by Edmund J. Janas, II
In Loving memory of his eldest brother, Obediah Swift, III who passed away in his sleep on
December 28, 2022
Little Troubled Black Boy
alone to fight against this world?
Will they even mourn properly for him?
Because that’s all they see.
In years and decades past, how they did you wrong.
It seems for every child worshipped
one must be made a villain.
Does anyone think that such madness
doesn’t come at a price?
Who will hang the art of these little black boys
in their homes? Or who will struggle to
reconcile their journey?
Even as we must sit sentinel at fortress walls,
and watching our enemies without rest,
but even our own have no problem
letting some slip through;
as collateral losses. Those too pale
or too dark sacrificed for our own
insecurities, an imitation of life
and lowly slave master propaganda,
happy to condemn you with no real thought.
Little black boy, who will mourn properly for you?
Society’s sacrificial lamb.
When the glow of our youth fades,
who will recount our virtues?
And who will fight for you
whether you are adorned with skin like
high noon or dark as midnight?
Whether you are rich or poor?
Who will protect our own from a wicked
system, run by both the good, bad and mostly ugly?
We remember boys left to sleep on concrete slabs,
those boys spoken of in third person whispers,
gossip, names, lies and slander?
Carted off like straw, as those who wrongfully jailed them sing their songs and hang their art in their homes, who live well off their pain.
When we die, I don’t suppose those who love you
sit around to count our flaws,
less we remember our own
and we are able to count their numbers
in the skies as stars.
Little troubled black boy.
Don’t you never mind them,
I will remember you.
Unforgiving is for others,
Not for those who loved you,
those who remember our pure selves,
our true selves, will mourn us.
Gathering up his earthly remains…
every dollar of his value extracted.
Tagged, numbered and put into a box.
Remnants lovingly sent to those
with some memory of their mother crying
at a doorstep. A mother who knew
her love was not strong enough to heal his brokeness
but could only see him through it.
And I, the little brother who sat with his white father
as both my parents vouched for him,
and fought for him across the table from
concerned or condemning white faces.
She and father worried about you,
and fought for you. Remember that…
and they did so, seeing no difference between us.
Some would have you forget that.
I will not, because we are the ones
who remember little troubled black boys,
and sing their songs and hang their art
in our homes without shame,
but with love and pride.
But as a brother,
I remember cooling iced drinks in summer
with twirling ice, and constructing pirate ships,
and dismembered chocolate easter rabbits
to fit them in the fridge.
How we laughed
in the face of terror.
A brother taken,
a brother slipping away into the night.
How we do not account
for the light and dark ones
missing among us.
First born among my brothers,
and my best brother, gone.
I remember what was right
with that troubled life,
though a faint star, a star
Try we might, we must set
aside the wrongs,
remembering artwork sent
home to inspire. First among
brothers and the one I
followed like a little white
shadow at noon.
When we die, I know
all our faults fall away
like autumn leaves. I have
lost enough people to know
that is true.
Now little troubled boy,
we place you back into our
mother’s arms, and up
in the night sky surrounded
by constellations of our own countless faults,
we can finally see you
And when we
think to look up we can
finally see you shine.