Wednesday, August 5, 2015


ART CURRIM She Gives Men Pause / Notes From a Walk in DTLA

Kevin writes with chalk and intent
On a treaded sidewalk
Big capital letters colored white
“EZELL FORD GOT STOPPED FOR WALKING WHILE BLACK…”
His penmanship is above par
Spacing elegant and precise
The message more important than the process
the time of day the milling crowds
Oblivious to the oblivious
Who step on and smudge the message
It will be re-written
The young birds giggle and flutter
And touch their locks
Nothing will dislodge these locks tonight
Slim-stilettoed things lining up already
For wristbands and jello shots and dancing for release
At nightclubs and bars erected to vanity and soulless connections
Alas, I have neither time nor compassion for them
And less money than it would take to feign interest

Lady with a dog yells at the shopkeeper
He is accustomed
He’s a sentry, a gatekeeper
His patrons glance disinterestedly
They can’t see down to how far she has fallen
Her anger frustration rage self-hate poverty
Realization of the hardest of hard realities
Harder than (their) cookie crumbles
Hotter than (their) chai latt├ęs

Abandoned and bereft, she
Talks of ghosts and fears past
That she faced alone
“Men” No Men” she mumbles
Then loud and clear and strong “There’s no such thing as menopause”
The men who hear her look down uncomfortably
Shuffle their feet
Thinking of their mothers
Still women, still their #1 sons,
Who put the men on pause to raise them
She’s right, I think.
No such thing as menopause
Just men who left
And now men who wait till she does.
The lady talks on then
About looks and age
Nothing she says can quite describe
What I see reflected in her eyes
I can’t tell what she has seen
But I know that it was real.
I’m sad beyond explanation
I feel the urge to mutter
The words don’t come / Words I can’t muster

Marginalized people stumble on cracks in pavement
Drunk enough to express passion-rage-frailty-sex
They shout for emancipation and justice
With rough voices they tear down
The rough stone of the 100-year old buildings
Their ancestors built with rough hands and hooded (darkened) eyes. 
 

I continue to walk aimlessly
Toward the parked car
That will take me from this raw doomed place
Watching those who are making the difference
Share space with the ones who live within it
Watching those who are making the difference
Take the space of those who represent it
Familiar haunting echo-rap of sirens
Sports cars and happy spirits
A film set spins a web across several blocks
Kiwi tourists smiling bewildered
Hold their handbags a little closer when I ask “Having fun?”
Besides that it’s pretty peaceful
The cops are behaving themselves tonight
Plenty of people walking while black
The po po aren't pushing back
I look skyward at heritage, gentrified, petrified
Filigree detailing and warm light
Warm shadows thrown signal an early night
Turning on, turning in, tuning out
In the gossamer distance
Low clouds among the towering buildings
Reflecting on the city
Reflecting on those that envisioned them, reaching for the sky
Reflecting on those that built them, now in quiet earth.

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