Those days when it was all right to be a criminal, or die, a postman’s son, full of hallways and garbage, behind the hotdog store or in the parking lots of the beautiful beer factory.
Those days I rose through the smoke of chilling Saturdays hiding my eyes from the shine boys, my mouth and my flesh from their sisters. I walked quickly and always alone watching the cheap city like I thought it would swell and explode, and only my crooked breath could put it together again.
By the projects and small banks of my time. Counting my steps on tar or new pavement, following the sun like a park. I imagined a life, that was realer than speech, or the city’s anonymous fish markets. Shuddering at dusk, with a mile or so up the hill.
Who did you love then, Mussolini? What were you thinking, Lady Day?
A literal riddle of image was me, and my smell was a continent of familiar poetry. Walking the long way, and up the steep hill.
Those days like one drawn out song, monotonously promising. The quick step, the watchful march march, All were leading here, to this room, where memory stifles the present. And the future, my man, is long time gone…..
Copyright 1969, by LeRoi Jones.