L. Lamar Wilson
My nephew waltzes beside his father,
The man who was the boy who made Faggot!
A reason not to flinch. His neck a merry-
Go-round, our boy rears back, waves
His pointer in my face, jabs his other fist
Into his hip & wails: Watch yo’ mouth!
Watch yo’ mouth, Miss Effie White! ’Cause I
Don’t take no mess from no second-rate diva
Who can’t sustain! In my brother’s eyes, I see
The pain of remembering when I crooned—Don’t
Tell me not to live. Just sit & putter. Life’s candy
& the sun’s a ball of butter—& made him grimace.
I scan the wall of plaques in Mama’s den,
The remnants of home runs & aces that gave
Him hope then, all dusty now. Teeth clenched,
He smiles at his dreamboy & nods in disbelief.
Harrumphs. Lashes flittering, he offers me
The only penance he can: a sheepish grin.
We applaud & feign heartened laughter.
My nephew sees beyond the veil shrouding
His father’s eyes. Realizes this isn’t
How brown boys win favor. Searches
My eyes for answers. Mirrors
A sadness no song can shake.
—from Rattle #31, Summer 2009
Tribute to African American Poets