Don’t never forget the bridge you crossed over on.

Carolyn Rodgers, one of the greatest poets of the Black Arts Movement, transitioned at the beginning of this month.  As usual, I missed it until a writer-friend emailed me about her passing this week.

I’ve already fessed up to being a poor excuse for a poet in my quite fickle love of poets and poetry.  I’m a terrible fiction writer but I lurvve reading it.

So yeah, it’s true: I hadn’t thought of Rodgers in years.  But when I read of her passing I was reminded, kind of like when an old friend Facebooks you  and you realize you’ve been missing them all along, how much Rodgers, her poetry, the movement that entranced me for years and threatened to take me to a graduate degree in Literature meant to me and my development during the fire orange afro years of not-so-long-ago.

Peaceful journey Ms. Rodgers, and thanks for being one of the planks on my bridge.

It Is Deep (don’t never forget the bridge that you crossed over on)
Carolyn M. Rodgers (1945 – 2010)

Having tried to use the
witch cord
that erases the stretch of
thirty-three blocks
and tuning in the voice which
woodenly stated that the
talk box was “disconnected”

My mother, religiously girdled in
her god, slipped on some love, and
laid on my bell like a truck,
blew through my door warm wind from the south
concern making her gruff and tight-lipped
and scared
that her “baby” was starving.
she, having learned, that disconnection results from
non-payment of bill (s).

She did not
recognize the poster of the
grand le-roi (al) cat on the wall
had never even seen the books of
Black poems that I have written
thinks that I am under the influence of
**communists**
when I talk about Black as anything
other than something ugly to kill it befo it grows
in any impression she would not be
considered “relevant” or “Black”
but
there she was, standing in my room
not loudly condemning that day and
not remembering that I grew hearing her
curse the factory where she “cut uh slave”
and the cheap j-boss wouldn’t allow a union,
not remembering that I heard the tears when
they told her a high school diploma was not enough,
and here now, not able to understand, what she had
been forced to deny, still–

she pushed into my kitchen so
she could open my refrigerator to see
what I had to eat, and pressed fifty
bills in my hand saying “pay the talk bill and buy
some food; you got folks who care about you . . .”

My mother, religious-negro, proud of
having waded through a storm, is very obviously,
a sturdy Black bridge that I
crossed over, on.

1969

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