'The Message'

[Dwayne Betts]

The title alone is worth the price of admission: Lobster with Ol' Dirty Bastard. The poems are just as good. You can't tell me that Michael Cirelli didn't nail this poem:


The Message
by Michael Cirelli

Malcolm was fed 16 bullets because of his. A slug kissed
the jaw of King Jr. and silenced him forever. Gandhi shriveled
like snakeskin. Joan of Arc became Joan of Ash -
So you can understand why Melle Mel was jittery scribbling it
all down, on a napkin, at Lucky's Noodle Shop in Harlem.
Sweat pearled into his green tea. He thought of Jesus
hanging from the dull wood. Heard about the poet Lorca
under an olive tree, shot in the back. Everyone has felt this way though,
when he pressed his thumbprint into vinyl. Hip-hop was still
a tadpole. the DJ had just learned to scratch a record and make sounds
no ear had ever conjugated. How was he to know Tupac & Biggie
would follow his lead and get plugged with lead? So he wrote it down,
in big curling letters, emphatic: don't push me.
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Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle.

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