‘Honor in the Ghetto’


American gothic.

sister amina

(inspired by Gordon Parks and “American Gothic”)

she was amazing
stunning, actually.
beautiful like the kind
you don’t see very often.

even with that iron
dish towel
and heavy vacuum cleaner.
even with that
broom and dust pan
in her left hand.

black. proud.
cleaning for ms. jane
cuz she was too dang lazy.

but still
she was amazing
stunning, actually.
beautiful like the kind
you don’t see very often.

so beautiful
even the dirt and ms. jane
couldn’t hide her.

just visiting
from north carolina

sirens screeching
ghetto boys
and policemen.

sex workers
cold buildings
and city toll.

city life
sure gets old
after a while.

heading back down
to where
things sound familiar.

the crickets.
the klan.
the south.

Baltimore resistance, 2015.

night of the uprising

(to: Baltimore, Penn and North)

there was free milk and bread
for the homeless.
free nap mats
to replace
their cardboard mattresses.

there was free fruit
fish, beans and rice
so the ghetto can eat good tonight.
fine sofas
and free love seats
for the recently married.
free shoes, free sweaters
and free socks
for all the poor kids on our block.

after all these years
of being in need
we didn’t mind
bleeding for liberation.
it was our duty.
we didn’t mind at all.

sowing seeds

from the master’s
slave quarters
and humble slums
grew strong men.

from the open fields
war kitchens
and vast auction blocks
grew diamond rocks.

from their battered hopes
and buried dreams
grew wildflowers
that refused to bow
or be broken.

Copyright © 2017 by Lamont Lilly. All rights reserved.

Lamont Lilly

Lamont Lilly was the 2016 Workers World Party U.S. vice presidential candidate. In 2015 he was an Indy Week “Citizen Award” winner for his activism and journalism. The selections presented are from his forthcoming book of poetry, Honor in the Ghetto. Contact the writer at [email protected].

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