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r.a. washington

r.a. washington is a native of historic hough neighborhood. washington is the author of three books of poetry, most recently; riot sketches, and two novellas. his films and paintings have been shown in various alternative spaces including the wexner center in columbus. he currently serves as poet-in-residence at the cleveland museum of art.


Amenhotep and the hustler of 152nd street

there are twelve planets.

this one is brown.

the walk
a million egypt sons
children aware of how he gives
crowd the scene
every horn gives toot
the ghetto salute
even on horse drawn carriage

thirty eight year bennin jah over before christ
yeah GOD.
(oops. Remember drumming.)
three young nomes step
the mc has gifts
two gold watches and a chain
he loud talking up to the God
and young nome
perfect in humble
steps to ask for mercy.
Offers the plot of land
Food for the weary

my son will not see amenhotep
he will not see the need
to connect across
to the unanswered I end of his face
there in sweet careful glass
fragments of past face
to build on.


A poem for the boys who die in justice holes

A man
His mind
Wonder if souls
Suffer more free.

Have we no faith?
Ask him.
Do not worry that he talks to
Himself, is not his own
He hears someone
In the wind of his ears

I know of cages
A few have died mad
In their terrible minds
Naked shit
Running down legs
The dark hold
Tiny slivers of light
Eyes adjust and you see
More human than any cage
Could make you

What of us who
Pretend our patterns
Just ice
Boys in cages
Hoping their screaming
Will cause reflection
To manhood
Even as they were men
As the cage door closed



Spit shined shoes
As the heads nightsticks
Your job is the cracks
Bust slabs
Every two of your feet
Old school
All shielded stiffs sick pension
Pay. you law
We abide the blue
Protect the white check
Spin the head of the poor
Copy his name in your mouth
And speak no more


Letter dun' gone home too late (poem for the soldiers gone)

"My belief is that this nation will need a strong presence in the new world, we must show the way to a higher set of morals, we must do our part as men of God . . ."
-Vice President DICK Chaney

they never knew what happen to him
it never appeared in the paper or on t.v.
he just was gone
as if he could click his heels
become invisible
faded in the terrible rush to defend

no land nor shore replace life
nor do the one mean more than the many
this poem concerns itself with none of this
it is for the one lost in defense of money
neighbor's shore,
I cannot call his name
For there are too many
And this poem is not for one
But for us who can remember his smile

Who can recall her drive in spite of uncle sam's history.
It had been his 'til her
And a mother's body lay on the shore of our foreign money
For we must have an enemy
It is un reactionary not to have one
In US fashion, her father
Faded in the terrible rush of the sixties

When she died no one was surprised.
For she must have been on a death mission
To want that world,
That saluting cock need
The world of cannons
All white
All black
Segregated night in defense for what has never been human.
at her funeral
her two sons alone for the first time
circumstances binding their souls
twin against country
they were never expected as men
to cry
no one cried.
Old lady met the post man at the door.
She'd been waiting
For she stayed late into last night her transistor.
Reports from the front
Tales of brave men, all brave in the same country god
Had none of them been cowards in the face of death?
Had none questioned for what great good his flesh made?
"don't hand me none of that army mail if you got any. I done buried three of them, don't want no more of their letters." Old lady fumed.
"how about a check then?" the post man said, slapping her mail in her fat hand.


Talking to you God

God, the great stasis in his vacuous night . . .
-Sylvia Plath

I've come to know you
In the soup lines of hate
Mushed humanity
Bagged possessions talking
Stories, the beggar eyes

Is that your hot breath
Rising through grates
A still virulence
Modern as free market winters
I call to you, a howl to the curvy light

Pitched moon bitch
Your mistress
Mocking the power of the dark
Belief is a string of faces
Wearing hunger gums smacking

All your names
Too proper for the truth
Fall clumsy to street tongues
I employ master's voice
Only to realize there is no word for you.

This night we took a freight,
Danced full belly
Against thin promise
Wondered if the thought of our death
Ever had you shaking in all seeing bones.

Wondered if morning would bring us
Face to face.
And if you'd know my name
Know my death accidental
For suicide can only be glorious
At home.

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