Elegy (for MOVE and Philadelphia) — by Sonia Sanchez


a disguised southern city
squatting in the eastern pass of
colleges cathedrals & cowboys.
philadelphia, a phalanx of parsons
and auctioneers
modern gladiators
erasing the delirium of death from their shields
while houses burn out of control.

c’mon girl hurry on down to osage st
they’re roasting in the fire
smell the dreadlocks and blk/skins
roasting in the fire.

c’mon newsmen and tvmen
hurryondown to osage st and
when you have chloroformed the city
and after you have stitched up your words
hurry on downtown for sanctuary
in taverns and corporations

and the blood is not yet dry.

how does one scream in thunder?

they are combing the morning for shadows
and screams tongue-tied without faces
look, over there, one eye
escaping from its skin
and our heartbeats slowdown to a drawl
and the kingfisher calls out from his downtown capital
and the pinstriped general reenlists
his tongue for combat
and the police come like twin seasons of drought and flood.
they’re combing the city for life liberty and
the pursuit of happiness.

how does one city scream in thunder?

hide us O lord
deliver us from our nakedness.
exile us from our laughter
give us this day our rest from seduction
peeling us down to our veins.

and the tower was like no other.                        amen.
and the streets escaped under the
cover of darkness                     amen.
and the voices called out from
their wounds                      amen.
and the fire circumcised the city                       amen.


who anointeth the city with napalm?                       (i say)
who giveth this city in holy infanticide?

beyond the mornings and afternoons
and deaths detonating the city.
beyond the tourist roadhouses
trading in lobotomies
there is a glimpse of earth
this prodigal earth.
beyond edicts and commandments
commissioned by puritans
there are people navigating the breath of hurricanes.
beyond concerts and football
and mummers strutting their
sequined processionals.
there is this earth. this country. this city.
this people.
collecting skeletons from waiting rooms
lying in wait. for honor and peace.
one day.


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