Homage to the Freedom- Fighting Freeman Bros

6th Annual Panther Film Festival, Ossage Avenue,
Remembering against forgetting Philly’s war criminal
Bombing/burning of MOVE, destroying 60 homes—
Killing 6 children, 5 adults: 11, like BP in the Gulf

I’d never avert my face from you, liberator, emancipator,
But, I did pretend not to notice the gaunt, grayish splinter
Slumping down in your chair, black pant legs like
Licorice sticks, pound cake swollen feet spilling over
Black house slippers, betraying 12-pain, on a 1-10 scale—
PTSD of a true war hero, symbol of my passive complicity in
Capitalism’s war on our warriors with weapons of medical
Grabbing your cane, lifting the chair
You asked me to take out of Maysles
To sit outside on Malcolm X & 127th—
I wondered what was outside? Peace? Serenity?
A timeout from the stoked, energized,
Movement crowd presided over by
Queen Mothers Ramona Africa and Pam Africa?

Gingerly settling in sidewalk seat, a sip of water
Downing potent pain pills, a bent cigarette liberated
From your shirt pocket, firing it up, inhaling therapeutically—

Flashbacks fluidly crawling across your face: tall, lanky young
Field Secretary, showing up all over Southern California like
Ida B. Wells with righteous resistance to legal lynchings

Flashbacks in traditions of Tubman, Amistad ship rebels and
Abolitionists, shoulder to shoulder with younger brother, other
Young liberators, daring to struggle, daring to win, defending
Despised, wretched of the earth, you love so dearly, serving,
Feeding, their spirits and bellies by any means necessary—
Flashbacks, fighting for freedom from all forms of slavery…

I just shut up, and we sat silently trading flashbacks like
Jazz cats trading licks in a jam session: Bunchy was a big
Brother, mentor and First poet I saw, heard and touched,
“If you ain’t thinkin’ lead, you already dead” he said to me
Masai was a big brother before Bunchy, “Right on,” he said
Tommy was a best friend, Monkish laugh, “Ha-ha-ha-ha…”
Wayne was a cousin, I’ll watch the film and read the book…
Caffie Greene, we speak daily, brought them all into my life

The freedom-fighting Freeman Bros, though, were
Warriors I’d heard of, read about, but didn’t meet
Until we were grown-ass men with grown children—
Elders counseling Generation Ferguson on war and peace…

The Freedom-fighting Freeman Bros are
Heroes, now, just as they were back then,
Stellar, like the Nicholas Bros to tap dancing
The Alou, Alomar and knuckle-balling
Niekro and 3rd base Boyer Bros to baseball
Like the Heath, Marsalis and Jones Bros to Jazz
The Freedom-fighting Freeman Bros are
Heroes now just as they were back then—
Real Evers, Berrigan Bros to emancipation!

Snapping back to real time, as young activists
Streamed from the theater, fast-forwarding to
Ferguson moments, huge masses struggling out
Of strait jackets of ignorance, Lil Wayne-washed,
Diddy-drained, Soulja-boy-stuffed, hollow playthings—
Vessels for FOX-box tin-point programs, redacted…
Disinformation, misinformation, half-truths and big lies,
Ignorant of the younger Freeman and others heroically
Repelling LAPD death squad of 300, 5 December hours;
Ignorant of the elder Freeman fighting through stops, frisks,
Harassments, arrests, jailing, beatings, interrogations, frame-
Ups on false murder charges, Karangatang, pork chop cop
Confrontations, leaving lead buried in chest, groin and
Psyche—wounded heart, your daughter’s resting place—
Eternal flame your belly remained, steel mill like inferno
Pouring ingots of red-hot knowledge, molten wisdom,
Serving the people. The Ancestors’ chants crescendo in unison
“Elder,” they chant ten times, “You have worked well, well…”

Former forklift driver/warehouse worker/janitor, Raymond Nat Turner is a NYC poet; BAR's Poet-in-Residence; and founder/co-leader of the jazz-poetry ensemble UpSurge!NYC. Read other articles by Raymond Nat, or visit Raymond Nat's website.