On the Birth of a Black / Baby / Boy

Etheridge KnightRacism

-for Isaac BuShie Blackburn-Knigh

In Memphis-in Tennessee.
(0 Come-and go / wid / meeee ... )
In Memphis, in Tennessee-
In the year of (y) our Lord, 1978-
( and the christian / suicides in Guyana).
In the bubbles and the blood of Boss Crump's guilt-
In the blueness of the hospitality of his / hos / pi / tal-
In the sterile gowns, green and growing-
In Memphis, in Tennessee ...

Where all women / are / whining Queens,
Where black walnuts drop like leaves,
Where all women / are / shining Queens-
Where / cops / act / much worse than thieves-
In Memphis, in Tennessee ...

When / the blood of your birth / is / screaming forth
like a fountain
the white thighs of your mother-
When / her / hand / is tight on mine-
When I sink in / side her belly, and cling to / you-
When / short miles to the south the Ku Klux / Klan
march like locusts over / this / land-
When mayors / like Moscone / are / shot-down, like
Martin, Malcolm, and Medgar Evers-
When Jimmy Carter / tries / to stand where Martin stood
In Memphis, in Tennessee-And.

As the lady / medic / with her long black hair
taunts your mother: 0 push push push push-
As / my / belly / becomes a drum and my blood beseech thee-
As / my / heart / becomes a song and my eyes lakes of lightning.
As / your / mother grunts for 3 / days and groans for 3 / nights,
As / she issues you / forth on a sunday night,
(on a chilling, raining, sun / day / night)-
and now.
As you lay warming in my arms, son-
all I / can / say is:
You / be a loonngg time coming, boy-
But you're wel / come here.

November-December 1978

The Essential Etheridge Knight

Last updated December 15, 2022