Wednesday, August 19, 2009

A View of the Sight Line

A tribute to my cousin Richard on his birthday.


When you look at me,
perhaps you see a man
of quiet, calm demeanor.
A wit that’s quick.
Wisdom that’s plain and simple.

But I hope that you see,
when you look closer at me
43 years of a story that has at its heart
a love of the art of the oil,
the canvas and the brush.

A love of charcoal and pencil that glide across
paper with all the skill I can muster.
Of watercolor and ink,
every type, every color,
a conduit for me
to tell you the stories
I want you to see when you

Look at me.

If you only see what’s on the surface,
then you miss the crux of my story.
The strength of my father, who let nothing;
not the hatred that came with the struggle for integration,
nor the tyranny of a gradually immobile body,
keep him from moving, striving, creating.
That pride he lovingly passed along to me,
and I pass on to you
when you look at my canvas.

Look closer. There it is.
The knowledge I glean from the voices of
Malcolm,
Cockburn,
Amiri.
The faith nurtured in me by
Nomine Patris, Filii, et Spiritus Sancti.
The visual representation of the melodies of
Bird,
Monk,
Duke,
Basie.
My interpretation of the gifts of
Caravaggio,
Rembrandt,
Bacon,
Freud,
Delaney.
The eloquence of Baldwin.
The flow of Fassbinder.
A lyricism rivaling the story of Panchali.

I know you see green when you look at me.
Not envy, but in my roots.
Planted by the nurturing hands of Cecilia and C.T.
Blossomed in the greenhouse of creativity on Kirby,
Made whole in the ivy that surrounds me
(which, by the way sports a vivid red, black and green
in the midst of all that blue).
Growing in the park that thrives in the heart
of the Empire State clear through to my soul in Motown.

Don’t look past all this when you look at me.
If you do, then you’re looking at,
but don’t really see
My pride.
My knowledge.
My struggle.
My love.
It’s right here.
It’s me on the canvas.

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