Artistry: Inspirations
First Flight (for Rickey Williams)

July 27, 2006 Print version       Other articles by this author

on monday he took first flight
leapt to his death
face cutting air
arms surrendering like the tears
i'd wiped goodbye
many times before

he fell as if meant to fly
no confidence in wings
and some of us knew he was an angel
but he didn't believe us
some devil echo of self-doubt
made him believe we were tricksters
salesmen of empty promises
some muthafucker in his head
promised peace in the valley of the Bay


so he jumped
into baptismal waters
to be born again
took flight into the only option
he felt would bring him peace
but everyone knows
no one survives that fall
into the feeling that pain ends
when life does

cuz life is so much bigger than any pain
i sometimes stretch my lens
beyond peripheral vision
to see all the hope around me
all the arms willing to hold me up
when I feel like falling
feel like disremembering
I'm a reason somebody loves living

(when in hell, ex-hell)

because depression is another
of our dirty secrets
doesn't happen to black boys
our suicides are not as often
sharp dramatic leaps
self-induced strange fruit noose
our suicidal tendencies be subtle
are unprotected sex, gangsta gattin,
drug escapisms, cuz "we don't give a fuck"
we do not as often leap
except when in that tight-fit
where death seems a most urgent
place of peace

the golden gate harbors a cemetary
for colored boys who've committed suicide
though some would prefer to believe
only white folks do shit like that
only white folks prop chairs below ceiling fans
have hearty last suppers
prepared with ingredients
from medicine cabinets
only white folks break when broken
and am tired of our bullshit
lying to ourselves


I only wish that i could have been
his savior
break bread with him
write another poem on his skin
to remind him not to forget
he is beautiful
when he disremembers
but on Monday he lost sight
took flight
and I was not there
to shake him out of it
did not get a call
was not given the chance to give my all
be the savior he has been for me

on tuesday i got the news
a friend held me through tears
my eyes are still recovering from the flood-rush
i recall my psych ward downspiral
when he appeared
held my hand, wiped tears from my face
reminded me of hope
beyond the overwhelming darkness
obscuring my shine
and the light it provided for black boys
like him

(in hell)

on wednesday i had to deliver the news to others
it is thursday
i still do not know why
i disappeared from his scope
so i will live
if only to continue being
reason enough for people to keep living
even when I struggle with that same darkness
that acute lapse of judgement
when hurting overshadows joy
I'll remember his first flight
as reason enough
to catch myself
ensure his poetry
takes shape through my next breath

remember to breathe

Visit Rickey's dedication site