Wednesday, April 07, 2004

The Original Nuyorican Poet- Piri Thomas

Was lucky enough to have caught most of a great PBS Independent Lens (always great) documentary on this man last night. Embarrassingly, I don't think I had ever heard of him. His most lasting work is an autobiographical book called Down These Mean Streets - a sort of Soul on Ice or Autobiography of Malcolm X for the Nuyoricans up in Spanish Harlem in the 60s. A great poem I heard is called Sermon for the Ghetto. Check it out below:

I speak for myself
as my mind rushes back into time
when I held in my hands
a beauty that was truly mine.
I was a child
running through dark ghetto streets
letting the sea of hatred and bigotry
wash over me.
I was too young to know.
But Momma filled my eyes
with the wondrous city,
where there was pity,
and all its pearly gates.
And oh, yeah, all the beautiful wisdoms
that flow from up there.

Hey, world, sit not in churches
and bend your knees in prayer.
And mouth not the words of Christ
of peace on earth and goodwill to all
if you know in your hearts that
you are truly lying, lying.
Oh, America, hey, world!
Do not spread a table with good food and comfort,
such as never seen by the children of your fellow human-beings,

Don't buy toys for your children bought at the price
of other children sacrificed,
Build not your golden gardens
on the blood of children crucified,
Oh America, hey world,
For while you are smiling and living well,
black children, brown children, red children,
yellow children, white children, multi-colored children,
children, children, children,
because of your hypocrisy,
because of greed
are dying, physically,
mentally, spiritually,
and secretly in broad daylight,
broad daylight.

A child out of twilight
Flying towards sunlight.
Born anew at each A.M.
Like a child out of twilight
Flying towards sunlight
Born anew at each A.M.


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