All dem kids sittin’ round laughin and talkin’ shit—
boys with corn rows and lined up fros wearin baggies
playin ball on the indoor courts at the Clinton Rec.
Healthy activities for young
was typed on the funding application.
The Youth Worker has a 270 degree view from his peeling laminate desk
hidden behind striped two-way shatter-proof glass,
the office door stays open, he likes to be accessible.
Bleary eyes zero in on the clock on the far wall of the court,
its hand points out the last seconds of his twelve hour shift.
All dem girls sitting round on plastic chairs and uneven tables
belting out the lyrics to En’Vogue and Blackstreet
TLC and Brownstone
they own doze lyrics—harmonies are on point
lights off; tha singin don’t stop
it jus flows down the cement steps and out into S Hicks street.
Weedy lil copper man
powerless but for beige and brown cotton
black and silver steel.
This is routine.
Standing at the bottom of steps. He speaks through his nose,
“Y’all think y’all so good don’t ya?”
The crowd of youths that may have been happy stop
posed on each step lower their masks of no expression,
well educated in being Black/Hispanic/po-white by elders who are still alive
conditioned responses to the taunts of the Tennessee constabulary.
“THESE KIDS HAVE NO RESPECT!”
The temptation to give these Mutha Fuckas what they expect
attempts to incite in head voices and murmurs, speaking to indignation and a young man’s ego
Only its disembodied voice rises above the baseline hum of the crowd, “Pig!”
Not seeking a cause for the effect of fists, rebel words rise out of the pavement
no stepping off to let them pass
“Cop killas, all up in they chest, and I know what to do with that vest, man.
Twenty-two shots. I killa.
You don’t want to fuck with Bone, nigga. And it really ain’t shit to pu1l a trigger
on a copper, ’cause if I go down, some of y’all goin’ down, ’cause I’m goin’
So muthafuck all coppers. Let me catch you slippin’, nigga, bet I pop ya.
the children’s chorus
to tha sky three fingers tucked, thumb
and pointer cocked
Weedy cop and his light-skin offsider sink back into the sidewalk
beige shirts morphing with the twilight and smog from the nearby powerstation.
The wounded limp home to nurse their injuries with Koolaid and Super Mario
Triumphant in victory only until the chorus of Bone Thugs dies inside their ears.
This poem includes an extract from ‘No Surrender’ by Bone Thugs-N-Harmony © RUTHLESS RECORDS 1994.
- 99: BROWNFACESUBMIT NOW with W S Dunn 98: SINGAPORECOMING SOON with A Pang and J Ip 97: PROPAGANDACOMING SOON with M Breeze and S Groth 96: NO THEME IXwith M Gill and J Thayil 95: EARTHwith M Takolander 94: BAYTwith Z Hashem Beck 93: PEACHwith L Van, G Mouratidis, L Toong 92: NO THEME VIIIwith C Gaskin 91: MONSTERwith N Curnow 90: AFRICAN DIASPORAwith S Umar 89: DOMESTICwith N Harkin 88: TRANSQUEERwith S Barnes and Q Eades 87: DIFFICULTwith O Schwartz & H Isemonger 86: NO THEME VIIwith L Gorton 85: PHILIPPINESwith Mookie L and S Lua 84: SUBURBIAwith L Brown and N O'Reilly 83: MATHEMATICSwith F Hile 82: LANDwith J Stuart and J Gibian 81: NEW CARIBBEANwith V Lucien 80: NO THEME VIwith J Beveridge 57.1: EKPHRASTICwith C Atherton and P Hetherington 57: CONFESSIONwith K Glastonbury 56: EXPLODE with D Disney 55.1: DALIT / INDIGENOUSwith M Chakraborty and K MacCarter 55: FUTURE MACHINES with Bella Li 54: NO THEME V with F Wright and O Sakr 53.0: THE END with P Brown 52.0: TOIL with C Jenkins 51.1: UMAMI with L Davies and Lifted Brow 51.0: TRANSTASMAN with B Cassidy 50.0: NO THEME IV with J Tranter 49.1: A BRITISH / IRISH with M Hall and S Seita 49.0: OBSOLETE with T Ryan 48.1: CANADA with K MacCarter and S Rhodes 48.0: CONSTRAINT with C Wakeling 47.0: COLLABORATION with L Armand and H Lambert 46.1: MELBOURNE with M Farrell 46.0: NO THEME III with F Plunkett 45.0: SILENCE with J Owen 44.0: GONDWANALAND with D Motion 43.1: PUMPKIN with K MacCarter 43.0: MASQUE with A Vickery 42.0: NO THEME II with G Ryan 41.1: RATBAGGERY with D Hose 41.0: TRANSPACIFIC with J Rowe and M Nardone 40.1: INDONESIA with K MacCarter 40.0: INTERLOCUTOR with L Hart 39.1: GIBBERBIRD with S Gory 39.0: JACKPOT! with S Wagan Watson 38.0: SYDNEY with A Lorange 37.1: NEBRASKA with S Whalen 37.0: NO THEME! with A Wearne 36.0: ELECTRONICA with J Jones