Tuesday, January 5, 2016


Statue At Sacred Heart Seminary
Part I
(July, 1968)

We yelped like torched dogs.
After the loot & burn
M-16s lowered, tanks returned to 'Nam
I rushed before school
as if Judas returned
& rolled away the stone.

Face, hands, glazed coal
whitewashed & back again
three times or more, clandestine
while the salvaged sleep.
Even the alabaster foot
beyond his robe.

Woven through darkness
relentless eyes tarry
beyond slits of patience
black paint stashed in the trunk
of a '62 Ford,
saint & soldier play shell game
with a deity in the dark.

Momma declares
its just a statue, he lives within.
I peer up at a white one
on our dining room wall
for a moment
I'm saved.

Statue St Sacred Heart Seminary
Part II
(August, 2012)

Papal lips urgent flap,
Lost Books & Nag Hamada
sealed in Easter's cadaver.
Pope John Paul visits Sacred Heart
the white statue utters prophesies
even Rome denies. Martin Luther King
coffined in Motor City's effigy; bullet proof leather
& black berets wear defiance,
rewrite gospel one savior at a time.

If only thoughts were my tongue's taskmaster.
As a boy I transcribe on sheets of fire,
wonder why Cro-Magnon aren't in Genesis
or Coelacanth don't dangle
from saber skin. My sixth, seventh,
forty-eightth birthday; the words
two thousand years ago echo,
time propped perfectly still
resurrection fossilized by fear.

Returning from school
I'd pass the other statue
crossed-over & cornered.
Grandpa use to say: Someday
blue-eyed gatekeepers will claim
heaven's for those who pay.
Concealed behind black wrought iron
subterfuge discovered half a century late
sleight of hand outstretched like scepter.

                                      --- Jawanza Dumisani

Detroit native Jawanza Dumisani resides in Los Angeles, where he is Executive Director of LBLLA Art Agency of LA. Previously he served as the Director of Literary Programming for the World Stage Anassi Writers from 2004-2011. He received a scholarship to UCLA and studied with Suzanne Lummis. In 2005 he was the recipient of a PEN Award and remains a PEN fellow in good standing. His first full length book BLACK RAISING CANE OVER RED is part of a two book project. URBAN MIAFFA is a collection of photographs documenting the city of Detroit, due in 2016.

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