Ahmos Zu-Bolton II

My brother turns his life insideout,

from a jail in Leesville,

from a half-way house in Lake Charles,

from a slave-quarter in DeRidder.

He is prisoner of his own rage,

trapped behind the swollen bars

of some lingering chains

and some sudden cage.


I speak to him from miles away,

from the cell next door and

lightyears away,

from motherlands and the fertile earth

our Mississippi father plowed:


I am trying to be the lawyer he needs,

the father who died fighting for his son,

the big brother with muscles in his miles,

the preacher with his pitiful prayers,


I am trying to give him 

the key to the cage, the hammer

to break the chains, the plot

the escape, the magic, the ju-ju

the tunnel under the demon walls,

the North Star to follow,


I climb inside all his sins,

find them in the flesh of this poem,

do bloody battle with them,

rip them apart like a white man's curse,

become their bitter judge,

their merciful jury,

their solemn executioner,


I leave them on the open floor

of his cell, spread out like the pages

of a testament, shadowboxing him

like a mirror,


I can forgive them 

those far-away long-ago sins,

but I can't erase them,

for they have their own afterlife,

their own ghost pulsating

on the hot breath where

my brother's frustrated bloodline boils...


yet no loving offering 

from my elderly black hand

can reverse his youthful middle passage

as he sits

on the frontporch of his betrayed generation,

sent to his silent room

like a spoiled boychild,

where he conjures secret maps

for whatever freedoms

he chose to rock his dusty soul with.

Found In Volume 31, No. 04
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Ahmos Zu-Bolton II
About the Author

Ahmos Zu-Bolton II's books include Ain’t No Spring Chicken, a collection of poetry and folklore, and 1946: A Poem. In addition to his poetry, Zu-Bolton wrote several plays, including The Widow Paris: A Folklore of Marie Laveau, The Funeral, Family Reunion, and The Break-In


He died in 2005 in Washington, D.C.