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I am a Dead Man Walking

I Am a Dead Man Walking

by Amir Sulaiman / 25.10.2013

Amir Sulaiman is an accomplished poet, activist, recording artist and a 2 time HBO Def Poet. Consistently working across the United States and Canada, Amir has shared the stage with artists such as Kanye West, Lauryn Hill, Common , Mos Def, Talib Kweli, Pharoah Monch, Floetry, Black Thought of The Roots, Goapele, Stevie Wonder, The Last Poets, Dead Prez, Ghostface of Wu-Tang Clan, MOP, and more. Amir is currently developing his very own “Cornerstone Folklore” tour followed by more high profile package tours slated for this Summer 2007.

If there was ever a battle fought with words, Amir’s words would be the deadliest! His delivery is woven with conviction and passion. His ‘thick, rich, fluid of verses’ will send cold shivers down your spine.

I am a dead man walking

A mute man talking
A blind man watching
Our brothers die

And I’ve built our coffins
Much too often
It gets so dark when
Our mothers cry

I know more than I want too
But not nearly enough
I thought I was writing for the love
But it just turns to be lust
And my trust in us was gullibility
The reality is just that
I’m not who I was
Nor who I will be
But sometimes I feel me visiting
And I fill me with the lush scent of soul
The flavor of feeling
The rush of color
I think the pleasure will kill me
The pressure squeezes and spills me
To the language of the unseen
The unthought, and the undreamed

And my heart begins to pump
The thick/ rich/ fluid of verse
Searching for a simple word or phrase
To fill the phase between
The wet nurse and the black hearse

And I know sometimes my words
Lack worth
Lack depth
Lack gerth
Lack the distance to travel from
Heaven to Earth
Or from mind to brain
Or from soul to flesh
I hold my breath and my hollow hope
That my hope ain’t hollow

It’s just a message in a bottle
Or a genie in a bottle
Or a wino and his bottle
Or a baby and the bottle

The symphony of me is stuck in staccato
Like a broken/ break beat/
Breaking the vinyl into
Bits of blackness spinning in circles

Come down Selecta
Last night the DJ took my life
But left the speakers empty
And the speakers speechless
And the dancers still
Dancing or not
They don’t see our music as musing
Merely amusing amusement
How could they know in
Basement booths
We’ve balanced the nexus between
The soul and the flesh
And the science and intellect
We rock genius like a necklace
We drop jewels in gutters

But they fooled our mothers
Into thinking that they could raise sons
In the darkness of night
But isn’t the night always dark before the sun is raised?
And when the sun is raised
Doesn’t he make the block hot
And the eye squint
And the breath sweat
And the tree grow
And the children play
The rays sun makes the pavement see
The wavy apparitions
The mirage of the future

But I know
I am a dead man walking
A mute man talking
A blind man watching
Our brothers die

And I’ve built our coffins
Much too often
It gets so dark when
Our mothers cry

So now I’m walking the thin line
Between love and hate
Between words that are spoken
And beats that break
There’s a thin line between
A bullet in the chamber
And the bullet in the brain
I’m civilized, sane, with a little savage in me
There’s not really a little savage in me
Just a lot of passion in me
And sometimes the soul rolls
Outta control without a glass of rem’y
And some people are fine with being slaves
Just as long as massa’s friendly
And let us spit fire into match
Until the mag’ is empty
You don’t need to pass the cem’y
To know there’s a little assassin in me
Just know
There is no soul taken accident’ly
The angel of death has an itinerary
Snatch you right outta your Bently
Right outta your Gucci jeans
Right outta your Fendi
Right outta your dashik’
And right outta your Kente
Allah has written in his book
And there is no erasing the pen’s ink
So why do we ignore what God knows
And rely on what men think
We’re just boys in the backstreet
Just tryin’ to get in sync

But my balance is off
My talent is lost
I’ve married my art, but
She’s barren of course
And I hear in her voice that
We’re headin’ divorse
So before court
I may have to kill my dreams and
Bury the corpse
I shed a tear for the loss
I feel like I’m bearing the cross
My conception was so far from immaculate
For the most part
We’re just a bunch of bastard kids
Our fathers are gone
Caught in the cycle of sadomasochism
Because our lives are dead wrong
But resurrected like Lazarus
Cause our mothers are strong
And our romances are just about
As romantic as the master’s kiss
But we have got to move on
And our lives are about as painful
As the master’s whip
We have got to move on

I wish I could sing for justice
But I know no such song
I know about Shohada
Souha and Koran
Jihad, martyrdom, and homemade bombs
I know you think I’m wrong
For talking about homemade bombs
But the leader of the free world
Can drop A-bombs and napalm
And got the nerve to ask
“Why do they hate us?”
When they still got the blood on their palms
They stay long
And sing songs about freedom and justice
All bloody day long
And claiming they’re right
But they’ve got to be dead wrong
And maybe I’m just too drawn
And head strong

And now
I’m ready to run head long
Into enemy fire
It’s like we desire death
I just got the same blood that
Pumps through a lion’s chest
I come from a line of warriors
Who took off the leather vest
And sheathed the sword
And sprint into the thick of the mess
I am begging them now
Show me your best!

There are two possible outcomes:
One, I could send them to rest
Or two, they could send me to my lord
I like the second one the best
I will kill the killers who live
I’ve settled for less

Because I’m already a
I am a dead man walking
A mute man talking
A blind man watching
Our brothers die

But I won’t build our coffins
And I will not take part in
The death of my heart’s kin
I would rather die.

*For more on Amir Sulaiman and other Pan-African poets please visit Badilisha Poetry website, produced by the Africa Centre.

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