Monday, December 10, 2012

Lorenzo Thomas

Back in the Day

When we were boys
We called each other "Man"
With a long n
Pronounced as if a promise
We wore felt hats
That took a month to buy
In small installments
Shiny Florsheim or Stacy Adams shoes
Carried our dancing gait
And flashed our challenge
Breathing our aspirations into words
We harmonized our yearnings to the night
And when old folks on porches dared complain
We cussed them out
    under our breaths
And walked away
    And once a block away
Held learned speculations
About the character of their relations
With their mothers
It's true
That every now and then
We killed each other
Borrowed a stranger's car
Burned down a house
But most boys went to jail
For knocking up a girl
He really              truly           deeply           loved
               really              truly           deeply
But was too young
Too stupid, poor, or scared
To marry
Since then I've learned
Some things don't never change:
The breakfast chatter of the newly met
Our disappointment 
With the world as given
News and amusements
Filled with automatic fire
Misspelled alarms
Sullen posturings and bellowed anthems
Our scholars say
Young people doubt tomorrow
This afternoon I watched
A group of young men
Or tall boys
Handsome and shining with the strength of futures
Africa's stubborn present
To a declining white man's land
As boys always did and do
Time be moving on
Some things don't never change
And how
         back in the day
         things were somehow better
They laughed and jived
Slapped hands
And called each other "Dog"

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