19 May 2020

for El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz, a poem by Rethabile Masilo

X marks a spot on the chest of a man
where a bullet burned in.
An X on top of a head marks the body
on which a helicopter bringing America lands,
red as blood that refuses to quit, but stays
and clots the whole thing by and by.
White, like a turban and djellaba someone wears
on a first visit to Mecca, are a million Muslims
orbiting the Kaaba, worlds on a journey
around the life of their star.
Red is a defiant name we see seep through
the front of a shirt, black as the sack
they stuff you in to take you where your people
wear black squares upon their rolled-up sleeves.

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