Mr. Africa Poetry Lounge!

Prince Albert Indeed: An Epitaph for My Uncle

An odd name they gave you,
my uncle,
Black hoboman
Black streetwalking man
Black PRINCE Albert indeed
who never knew robes.

They called you Beale Street Red
the Black man with hair the color of sand
shaking the cards
pulling magic from your slim fingers
and singing naughty songs for people
who drangk down their laughter
and forgot to dream.

You were the poet of the lost ones
most brilliant
when sweet wine made your rythms quick
and your rhyme long syllables of
wind-blown desires.

I loved you,
my uncle,
even when you shamed me
I loved you.

I loved you as a child loves
a game
a diversion
a clown wiser than paying spectators
a somersault going higher
turning nowhere.

I loved you acting out poems
you had penned from your soul
or making poems that rhymed
with the aroma of cheap wine
and then being a poem sad
you recited with bitter laughter.

You made your life a game
shattering rules written for those
who must always lose,
even the small stakes,
you said.

And you
won your lost life

We dressed you in brown,
they placed you in bronze
sleeping without breath.

At last you were your name
A Prince whose long poem had ended.

In the stillness there was rhythm
and I could see your smile
like a crooked river finding its source.
In the silence there was rhyme
and I could hear your laughter
making new poems
and polishing the old ones
that had named you

        Beal Street Red
        Funny Man
        Game-Playing Man
        My Uncle
        Prince Albert.

Written by Gloria Wade Gayles


Mr. Africa Poetry Lounge