Monday, June 12, 2017

Neal Hall writes

James Baldwin’s Nothing        
he said he was not French in France,    

he simply did not exist,        
he was invisible, a relative reprieve,    
and it was what he needed *
here, beyond the borders of America,    
I am a James Baldwin nothing    
an invisibility faring me far better        
than my visibility in those States,        
united against me to label me        
to identify me as their nigger   
here I am a James Baldwin nothing,    

an obligatory nothing, categorically dismissed,    
not enough of something to bother with 
despising  me    
here I am a James Baldwin nothing,    

where there’s some solace        
but nothing like real solace,        
where there’s some peace        
but nothing like real peace,    
where there's some dignity        
but nothing like real dignity,    
where there’s some freedom        
but nothing like real freedom   
I am that James Baldwin nothing    

that something more than, that something        
far bigger than america’s nigger   
here I am something of a nothing,    

a James Baldwin nigger    


 Image result for james baldwin painting

  James Baldwin -- Karen M

1 comment:

  1. James Baldwin was an American novelist, essayist, playwright, poet, and social critic. His observations on American race relations, leading to a number of essays including "Nobody Knows My Name." One of his book-length essays, "No Name in the Street," discussed his own reaction to the assassinations of three of his personal friends, the Civil Rights Movement leaders Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King, Jr. An unfinished manuscript, "Remember This House," a memoir of his personal recollections of the three men, became the basis for Raoul Peck's 2016 Academy Award-nominated documentary film "I Am Not Your Negro." Elijah Muhammad, the founder of the Nation of Islam ("Black Muslims"), once asked him about his religious beliefs, and he replied that he had left the church decades earlier; "And what are you now?" Baldwin explained, "Nothing. I'm a writer. I like doing things alone." He left the US at the age of 24 and settled in Paris, France, where he lived most of his adult life, though he also spent some time in Switzerland and Turkey, and in 1986, the year before his death, the French government made him a Commandeur de la Légion d'Honneur .

    The giver (for Berdis)

    If the hope of giving
    is to love the living,
    the giver risks madness
    in the act of giving.

    Some such lesson I seemed to see
    in the faces that surrounded me.

    Needy and blind, unhopeful, unlifted,
    what gift would give them the gift to be gifted?
    The giver is no less adrift
    than those who are clamouring for the gift.

    If they cannot claim it, if it is not there,
    if their empty fingers beat the empty air
    and the giver goes down on his knees in prayer
    knows that all of his giving has been for naught
    and that nothing was ever what he thought
    and turns in his guilty bed to stare
    at the starving multitudes standing there
    and rises from bed to curse at heaven,
    he must yet understand that to whom much is given
    much will be taken, and justly so:
    I cannot tell how much I owe.


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