Monday
Aug062018

"I Ain't Mean to Scare You, Lil' Nigga"

Cortney Lamar Charleston


 

he conveyed to me after turning the corner from the ATM to where
I stood with a switchblade made of sharp breaths in my right hand,
but to keep it 100, I saw about as much fright in him as I saw fight
in me. What shook me, instead, was a psychic dissonance, a neuro-
spasm in the split second I spied that I cast two shadows at once and
wandered at light's speed all possible outcomes of this encounter: me,
hurt and/or dying―right outside my own door, just as the sun downs.

But honestly, this ain't that type of story since I'm still here to tell it.
For what it's worth, he wanted a dollar I could spare and the damn
I couldn't, and that day I thought he was asking too much of me,
tried to ensnare my lyric-loving heart in the beat and rhymes of his
so-said life when I had myself, at that point, given up on the persona
of poet, a person who could potentially express love for someone
from the wide world beyond their own small sphere of influencers.

And therein lies the shame of it all, I feel: how I'd become so small
in my time away from everyone whose limits I knew that I could even
fit in his pleading mouth without him choking on the whole of me, and
a fool will say that sounds a certain way, would agree with what some
past acquaintances suggested when I wouldn't bull over somebody who
threw threats of red in my face, but hear me out―what I'm getting at
is that I'm not bulletproof and I know it; I'm an eggshell with an ego
inside, painted a brown shade with a splash of cream in its complexion.

I hear my mother's voice and scramble like a pay channel that wasn't
paid for this month. My patience pops sometimes when I talk to him,
Pops, onomatopoeia of my genes. And I go off, I snap on my siblings
as if they're instrumentals though I can't spit in any lucrative sense,
just as I can't really tell her how this will all work out whenever we
speak on the phone at night, the tides of adulthood pulling us gently
separate like slight rowboats, trying to sink us under cascading doubt. 

O, lil' nigga of my life, how does one deal with all this angst, all
this unrest and arresting of concern? I've kept my head on straight
for this long. I try to do the right thing, I really do, but that got
my big cousin killed down here, helping out that poor woman,
years ago, as my granny reminded when I first said I was taking
a gig in Atlanta tracking sales of coca leaves. Twisted thing is,
I'd never slept better than I did that same night. I've always been
more comfortable being remembered fondly than being needed.