by Jay Ward
was the worst day, the enormity of your body
sprawled across the charts, everyone hears
and scrambles for pall bearers strong enough to carry
legacy. Now you live.
sanctified you in all white like the dancers
in the Mo’ Money video, ignored those mad
‘cause you flagrant, ‘cause you partied, parted,
sang your words like homegoing.
marries your death to his; the big payback?
The phone tapped basement? Split the mourning
down East/West. Coast down Lafayette, long way home after
work, every radio station cobbling make-shift anthologies
from dust, it also being too brief.
we thirsty for champagne to sip instead of malt liquor, aim
to buy a shiny suit ‘stead of a long white tee. If we can’t believe
in you, we’ll believe in ourselves until the next you, or never,
we’ll sip & shine & recognize an offering of fat made to smoke.
black and ugly
as, all of us, ever
us to be seen the way
you seen yourself, definitely black and definitely
ugly in the best way; trendy, Gucci down to the socks,
a skin everyone wants to drape over their own
at least once while posing in the mirror or the classroom
or the street. Skin, not hide – understand? Not hide.
Saturday is a riot or a party good enough to rattle
the walls and get lost pressed against the body in
front of you. In a few days, Brooklyn will parade you
through a sea of RIP posters and blank-faced b-boys,
curl-topped devotees staring from brownstones,
but tonight we pass you along the tips of our pulsing palms.
Wave’em side to side. Give your girl the eye.
I fade, like a rumor, all sound to the back
while dad questions all the cuss words
he thinks he hears. No, that’s not what he said.
It is what he said. But I’m determined my parents
will get this work today, on the way to church and back.
There are many ways to save
a born sinner.
Jay Ward is a poet and teaching artist from Charlotte, NC. There is an honest and raw energy released to the audience when his page meets the stage; a story aching to be heard, a salve searching for hearts. Jay is currently ranked 14th in the world for slam poetry and Charlotte’s 2016 Poet of the Year.