the unbearable blackness of being

(in response to the verdict and the notion that my life is without value)

Nietzsche says
it has already
happened
that it will
happen again
ad infinitum
in fact
this heaviness
he says is
unbearably unavoidable

but the sophist
knows i am
made of stardust
there will
only, ever be
one of me
my life is
not cheap

i am beautiful and i am black

i know why
i frighten you
when i step
onto the elevator
so from time
to time i
must remind myself
that my blackness
is too bright
to gaze
directly into

ask the greeks
about the unbearable
blackness
of my being
they thought
i was a god
as plato and
herodotus walked
among us, they
thought my
skin was otherworldy
my head, wondrously
woolly or smooth
as the face
of the sun
must have been
crowned in celestial glory
that as my hand
stretched
to the sky, it
held the what
and the why
as i circumscribed
the heavens in
the palm of
my hand, that
my finger
pointed to where
we came from
running back to
athens to build what
they thought was
a flattering replica
of the mysteries
they had been
exposed to
conveniently forgetting
where they got
it from

the astronomer
knows, i am
made of stardust
there will
only, ever be
one of me
and my life
is not cheap

i am terribly and wonderfully made

i know why
you are frightened
of me, why
you have to
follow behind me
in the dark, i
have to remind
myself that
my sun-kissed skin
may be envied
that you need
freud and jung
to help you with
what you have
repressed, to
unwind your mind’s
deep seeded jealously

ask the
Cheyenne or
Comanche
about the
unbearable blackness
of my being
how they thought
i was sacred
how their men
knew me as
one part ferocity
that my hair must
have meant that
i was also two
parts buffalo
how the women
wanted me to
lay down with
them knowing my
offspring would
be blessed

the shaman
knows, i am
made of stardust
there will
only, ever be
one of me
and my life
is not cheap

i agree with Kundera, Nietzsche had it wrong

in a little
while, not
long from now
in an age
soon to come
your hate
will have crumbled
into dust, and
blown away
like the paper this
is printed on
that you had to
follow me, that
you feared me
crossed the street
when you saw
me coming
because my
blackness was
unbearable, your
ugliness, will
be a distant
memory out
of focus
like an old
photo faded
beyond recognition
that you tried
desperately to hold
onto your privilege
as it evaporated
like milk in
the noonday sun
will be an
unread footnote
in the back
of a mis-shelved book
smelling of mildew
on the bottom
shelf in a forgotten
corner, no
longer checked
out of the library
but i, who
am beautiful
black and
made of stardust
will live on

—Gerald Coleman

 

BIO:

Gerald L. Coleman is a native of Lexington, KY. He did his undergraduate work in Philosophy and English, before completing a Master’s degree in Theology. He is currently finishing work on the first, in a series, of Fantasy/Sci-Fi novels entitled Sanctuary, and has just compiled his second collection of poems entitled naked. He is a lover of espresso, early mornings on the golf course, and Lexington in the fall. He is a founding member of the Affrilachian Poets.

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