Liberty Ashes (Keep Rising)

I was raised    on the edge
of the city     others said
was too far out to venture
I live beyond
where Nick and Jay* could picture
beyond where Moses*
could reach
his mighty staff to change
displace
Us like the Red Sea
This beyond I call
Home
when others call it wasteland
We like phoenixes, raised ourselves
out of valleys of our own ash
made treasures
out of trash before it was trendy
put on our beaver skins
and built dreams
became engineers
of futures and spaces
that others said didn’t exist

Here, We keep rising

We step outside and signs
remind of Liberty
moving down the avenue
it intersects with Farmers
We are still growing
a new now in concrete fields
the same where LL
stood by the red, black and green
felt the Liberty rock
felt the rhythm rock
from the floor to the ceiling
like Run DMC
We rising, surprising, hypnotizing
like Jazz’s reincarnation
extension
recording from Harlem, Chicago,
The South -- the holy sainthood
Ella, Eva, Billie, Lena
Bassie, Waller, Williams, Parker
We in the congregation
of saint Coltrane and his love supreme
God bless the child
Browne found his
groove in Jamaica funk
when he pressed his mouth
on the trumpet
that groove inside soul
that groove gettin’ into you
We got the cosmo
swirlin’ like the center of the galaxy
called Bebopafunkadiscolypso
with its mix of Salt n Pepa
and jerk and curry
shaking our thang
and making mo’ Jamaica funk
We like yeast in breakin’ bread

Here, We keep rising

We, the people
of auto repair shops
and junk yards
We, the home of
Black spectrum
the web of black spiders
weaving theaters of poetry
spinning together Africa’s children
We are poets rising
though dreams may be deferred
Our tongues keep watering them
when they dry up
like raisins in the sun
We are concentrated sweetness
We are crystallized grittiness
We are graduates
of the school of Lorraine
singing anthems to lift every voice
Our rejoicing rising
so the sky can hear
We keep rising here

Springing up wells
excavating buried wisdom
and wishes
washing off old dirt
discovering maps of memory
We are journeys uprooted
Still We keep rising
like trees healing
from the root shock
Our bodies rock on the routes
of new vessels  old blood of new courses
We scatter through the wind of Our voices
and grow where We land
Here, We keep rising
like churches on every corner
the holy spirit amplified
in the sounds of the chorus
singing
We keep rising
We keep rising
We, the risen!

 

Sherese Francis is a member of the Southeast Queens Artists Alliance.  This poem was originally published in Newtown Literary.