by Joe Okonkwo

He looked out the window
of his apartment on 125th Street
and saw a hurricane raging:
it was raining cats and jazz.

Langston was the gentle eye of the hurricane/
Zora, the force behind the hurricane/
and Duke, the royal who presided
over the hurricane and loved it madly.

He sauntered down 125th Street
in his tight double breasted suit
and two-toned shoes
like he was entitled to it all:
the jazz floating from the speakeasies,
the poetry smoking the air,
the black world on fire.

His dashiki blazed like
African landscape.
His hair was big,
ferocious and safely
out of control.

King’s staggering sermons
purred in his ears,
Baldwin’s fire pulsed
through his brain,
his feet proudly ached
as he marched with
head, shoulders and
sign held high.

As he shouted anthems of protest,
Aretha’s anthems of entitlement
wailed through him with gospel ecstasy.
A rock was thrown.
A battle ensued.
Water hoses materialized because
the black world was on fire.

A doo rag adorns his head,
a smug crown.
He wears his pants loose and
so far below the waist
that his underwear
shows defiantly.

He swaggers through the streets,
parading his bad ass,
the songs in his head an ode
to drugs, prison, violence—
bitter rhapsodies.
He is nigger to the core
and electrically proud of it.

He says what he wants,
does what he wants,
and fuck you if you
tell him he can’t.
He is our future.
He sets the black world on fire.

Entitlement by Joe Okonkwo

© Copyright 2002. All rights reserved. No portion of this work may be duplicated or copied without the expressed written consent of the author.

TimBookTu Logo

Return to the Table of Contents | Return to Main Page