Hilton N. Webb, Jr.

Hilton N. Webb, Jr., is a formerly incarcerated cis-gendered man who loves the speed and danger of Harley Davidson motorcycles, the smell of fragrant blossoms, and the laughter of small happy children. He is also a writer who believes poems are the sharpest arrows in literature and that love is the strongest force in the universe.

8 Minutes…46 Seconds

The man, under cover of authority and with supposed immunity has in daylight lynched another of my brothers.

I used to hate that word brother because I had none, because it was always just me and my mother at the dinner table.

But now, I see that we are all related and that George Floyd was my brother in every sense of the word.

My heart is broken at the waste of life for nothing more than a perceived slight,

either that day or from some incident at work … since they worked in the same bar together.

We will never know anything definitively but that there was a knee on a man’s neck.

That proverbial knee has been there since 1619 when the White Lion made landfall with twenty odd Africans.

We black men have been lynched while our women have been raped and lynched when the rape didn’t go well.

They ‘the powers that be’ only care about power followed closely by money.

While we are dragged behind pickup trucks in Texas, beaten unrecognizable for not even whistling at a white woman,

hung like strange fruit on trees from North to South and sea to shining sea simply because YOU cannot face your

banality of evil.

You killed a peacemaker as he talked about the moral arc of the universe bending toward justice

as he left room 406 one afternoon in April thinking of a spring evening, mortality, and what to eat for dinner.

I wonder if one day I could leave my home and not wonder if I’m going to make it back alive,

or not end up in prison. Nonetheless, I’ve learned how to be obsequious enough to stay alive,

but at what cost to my soul, still bleeding from the first time I was called a nigger as a child,

and asked mommy, “what’s a nigger?” And she said, “not you baby,” as tears rolled down her stricken face.

I watched America burn in 1968 except for Indianapolis where Bobby spoke knowingly, two months before you killed

him too. I am tired … so fucking tired of carrying this cross while waiting for the arc to bend toward justice

while my sisters and brothers are killed in their homes or in the streets in broad daylight under color of authority.

People say, “things have improved,” I say, “has it improved when the murders happen digitally in the daylight instead

of undercover of darkness in Money, Mississippi or in secret bombings in Birmingham, Alabama?”

I watch cities burn again and know that things will burn then return to the status quo with your foot still on my neck…

I have an answer, it is better to die standing on my feet than on my knees.

I don’t know when but I do know I am ready, willing, and able to bend that damn arc myself;

all I need is a little help… because by helping me we help each other arrive at a place where the misery

begun that hot August day in Virginia can be washed clean and buried in the past where it should be rather than in the

present.

© 6/1/2020 Hilton N. Webb, Jr.

Every (Wo)Man

I am the Jew you stripped,
whipped, and gassed at Auschwitz
all in the name of racial purity.
I am the Lakota you lied to
and whose sacred Black Hills you then stole,
to search for worthless yellow rocks.
I am the Woman you told, “You want it,
I know you do!” as you raped me and burned the
memory of horror into my soul for a lifetime.
I am the Child that weeps softly to myself
in fear and loneliness, the one who fears
tonight you’ll touch me again.
I am the Immigrant who believed the lies
of freedom and who wanted to walk on
streets paved with golden dreams.
I am one of the Have-nots waiting for
the haves to save me one small crumb off
their overflowing tables of success.
And Yes, I am the Black man who proves
by his very presence today, that he has
become an anachronism in this country.
You see, I’ve always known who I was,
for I recognize the multitude of voices inside me.
Who in the Hell are you, my friend…
and do you even try to remember the lives you’ve lived?

© Hilton N. Webb, Jr.
 

Prisoner of Memory

I remember the deafening silence of the box;
encased inside, besides, underneath; unable to still … thoughts.
I can still hear the ear-shattering screams …. “You Heard?”
When inside you thought …. Fucking Lazarus, heard you.
I’m sure I even heard a mouse pissing on cotton,
in the corners of a cell down the gallery.
Steel echoes in ways unseen and unknown…
but always impervious to penetration.
Once I woke … to the smell of Danielle in my nostrils,
her hair sticking to my face,
the warmth of her naked body spooned inside my soul;
only to realize juxtaposition rather than reality.
The mind or what’s left, does what it needs to do to ground your reality
rather than the fugue state which satiates your heart.
It’s not mere daydreaming; it’s life-streaming and anchor-weighing.
I imagine people in a worst place than I and know they survived … it said so in a book.
Crammed into the bowels of slave ships, marched along a Trail of Tears, on the Road to Bataan,
packed into cattle cars to work camps wherein only the strong survived and the weak never broke.
Living through those disparate horrors and ending the noise like Primo Levi,
is to claim your life and its uncommon end, as yours.
We who are alive afterwards, bare the burden of memory,
along with the pure joy of surviving;
but in the darkness of our minds we ask, “Why me, and not her?”
The burden ... surpassing the horrid is the curse we prisoners of memory bear for eternity.
Failure is not allowed, only success.
Too much, much too much to ask of those who have fertilized humanity with their blood.

© 3-8-2019 Hilton N. Webb, Jr.

Wounded Phoenix Rising

Out of the dark bleakness of self-doubt and self-created hell, I rise….

slowly scraping off the festering scab-infested cloak of fear

which made me nondescript, unseen, unloved, unknown and always alone.

I alone, have power because I’ve ripped it from selfish & controlling hands.

I create a new me from the ashes of the old damaged me,

the one who couldn’t trust, wouldn’t trust … couldn’t love, wouldn’t love;

still wanting desperately to connect with someone;

Anyone …. Anytime …. Anywhere.

I am worthy of trust, simply because I am human and unafraid of my tears,

unafraid of love because I am worthy of tender embraces and unbridled passion.

Without tears there is no humanity, no empathy, no hope, or no future.

Without love, death inside the burning flames of hellfire is preferable.

Once I lived a pain-free live protected from the world in my self-created cocoon;

which was far worse than being alone, …… even for a stoic loner like me.

Now I rise to see all that is and all that’s possible …. birth is painful …. but rebirth is truly glorious.

 

© 6/5/2019 Hilton N. Webb, Jr.

The Scars We Choose

I have a tiny divot in the right corner of my left eye

I can’t remember from whence it appeared

if it was malice or happenstance.

A faded jagged rip lies under my right thumb

from a shuriken thrown at my heart,

rarely fatal but always painful and bloodletting.

These and countless others mar my body

in a roadmap of my circuitous journey;

never straight but always forward,

because backwards is not a possibility . . . although desired.

None matter but the absent one that isn’t blown

into my left temple and out the other side,

or the black hole sucking light from my futures,

or the incompetent scratches which mark both wrists

in a failed attempt . . . seeking eternal redemption.

My psyche bears far deeper permanent keloids,

which are a shibboleth of my struggle in battle

while my soul is unblemished by these obvious marks.

Nonetheless, the rips, tears, and wrong-way scars remain, nonetheless.

And I sit silently restless . . . waiting for the inevitable flow of blood from the openings

as they leak my essence back into the abyss . . . which has always been my home.

 

© 3-7-2019/7-21-20 Hilton N. Webb, Jr.