At a Black Bookstore In Oakland…

by Erren Kelly

i come in and look around
and i try to give the
black woman behind the counter
my shopping bag
but she just shrugs and says
you don’t need to leave it here
“we don’t play that”
and i tell her most places
aren’t like that
and since I’ve been in cali
i realize behind the free love
and political correctness
it can be as racist a place
as anywhere else
in san francisco
its called “james crow”
not “jim crow”
i love oakland
and the way its spread out
if books could repair neighborhoods
east oakland would become mecca
hoochies would become proud, bright-eyed
upstanding women
and playas would be well-dressed
clear thinking men
armed with blueprints
that showed the course of action
the ressurrection of a neighborhood
for their children
i walk around the bookstore
as stevie wonder’s voice
carries me into the millennium
just outside the window
streets are lined with
broken down homes and failed business
even a man as big as me
walks around guarded and nervous
wondering could hope be found here?
but you can’t steal knowledge any more
than you can steal hope
both are free anyway
it belongs to black people who need it
to revalidate their lives
when television networks
show little if any of our side
or when bosses or even coworkers
wage slaves like me
try to talk down to me
tryin to make me think
they’re better than me
better than me?
please.
i hear the words of
black men and women
speaking to me from books
telling me:

you can love us
you can hate us
but you can’t forget us

ERREN GERAUD KELLY IS A PUSHCART NOMINATED POET BASED IN SALISBURY, NORTH CAROLINA BY WAY OF CHICAGO, BY WAY OF LOUISIANA, BY WAY OF MAINE, BY WAY OF CALIFORNIA,BY WAY OF NEW YORK CITY, BY WAY OF VERMONT AND SO ON. HE HAS BEEN WRITING FOR 25 YEARS AND HAVE OVER 100 PUBLICATIONS IN PRINT AND ONLINE IN SUCH PUBLICATIONS AS HIRAM POETRY REVIEW, MUDFISH, POETRY MAGAZINE(ONLINE), CEREMONY, CACTUS HEART,SIMILAR PEAKS, GLOOM CUPBOARD, POETRY SALZBURG AND OTHERPUBLICATIONS
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