Besides being my biggest critic, I confess that I struggle with writing about Black masculinity — as with other useful things. Like most issues that singe a nerve, it becomes a problem to find an authoritative voice, to research the topic with some savvy and deepness, to take seriously those who claim to know. Black masculinity is a traveling miasma. It is a devious destination. It also offers a conundrum – having to write about the topic in free-verse poetry. In sinking Black. Under this burden of masculinity. Alas, my own undoing…
Boy, ask not what it be to be a man, Black,
Here comes the white casket, an excellent fiction.
Here comes the bastard in the story,
The ballad man they called, Mr. Black F. Masculine,
Seize a stool, boy,
B. F. Masculine, will daze you.
For there was once a bruised knuckle Papa,
Hold your ears, boy,
For they spoke of a fogged window Mama,
This is how it went down.
A red kite lay trapped in razor wire,
A lion, the holidaymakers poked,
A single malt barrel leaked in the basement,
And the joys you dare hold, will slip through bad teeth,
To stay those of damp Virginia slims that still come ablaze,
One morning, two buttons went missing, a shoelace was broken,
A little Black boy ran for the bayou,
A knife in his back.
His Black wrists lay in wait for the violence of pulp fiction,
Steady now, little Black boy, we aren’t done with you’s yet.
Hang up those matinee educations, they said.
This here is a gone theater that echoes, he answered.
Thirteen coils makes one hangman’s noose, boy.
Act natural, let’s not any sudden moves make, I say.
B.F. Masculine, the tortured drummer, did he become.
When he did not try the noose for fit, a beard he did grow,
Impressed by fingernails in Lincoln’s bed, he became.
By the perfume in the corridor, for a white girl, Sallie, was near,
He inspected a misplaced blonde hair,
Stored same under pillow,
Sweet sleep and smiles did it bring.
He grew a bicep and a cerebellum,
That phallic chap pleasured the cathedral piano,
Hunted women by day and tom-cats by night.
Now he is gay and grey,
B.F. Masculine, he wields a steeled Martyr complex,
Steel-coat testicles, little anal quivers,
He knows that if he squeezes his anal sphincter he can trick a polygraph.
He takes a small Black woman wife to darkness,
Unlike Sallie, she is a bad coffee maker in light.
He fucks badly and sadly, to prove point.
Now he is grey,
He says no to perfect coffee.
The rain exposes buried jewels,
DSM IV, that Barnum effect,
Diabetes II, limestone prostrate,
Pollens of Strange Fruits in his shirt pocket,
Police wahala. Breaking news. He fit the description.
There is a song on his tongue he forgets.
Age gentle, die fresh.
Adieu, Black boy,
Life expectancy: 52
Cause of death: Pulling flint from imaginary beard.
And when golden, only when golden,
Did his wishes become horses,
He gallops now into that dark hysteria,
To radiate some Machiavellian fitness,
The rotten sanguinary of Nietzsche,
Come hell, come death, come sweet Atlantic.
A delicate wood sliced clean by a crashing ax, he will be called,
A stolen Bukowski book that whispers in candlelight,
A soulmate in arms that is sweeter when dead.
A father bad at fathering.
This is what B.F. Masculine was to this town, boy.
What about me? You ask.
You are the star on the pedestal,
There are windows in your heaven,
Your eyes should never meet limestone feet.
And your death begins today.
Don’t you dare ask, little Black boy what it be to be a man,
Like B.F. Masculine,
Shh. Silence. Here comes the white casket, an excellent fiction.
Our anger so righteous, your little Black head it will do in.
One more thing. Which of these do you call father?
The one in the white casket.
Indeed, B.F. Masculine was a great man.