Rigorous
Volume One, Issue 3



Bob McNeil


A Versified Voyage

Another boy was raised at the Hudson River
    With a firm Earth Sign—
    A promising limb on an African tree—
    And The Thinker, his archetype,
    Sat beneath his unburdened brow.
24 seasons later,
    The child scrutinized
    The Lost Tribe’s Jerusalem—Harlem.
    And Like East 127th Street’s Shakespeare,
    Langston Hughes,
    The boy embraced his race.
At 54 seasons,
    The boy became a knowledge-consuming entity
    Learning about African-rhythmic prose, odes,
    Bantu, Zulu, Malinke, Yoruba,
    South of the Sahara songs.
The child traveled
    The geography of his mentality
    With David Diop, Dadie,
    Césaire and Senghor,
    Poets who created the seeds
    That became Afrocentric Breeds.
To the boy,
    These poets were sight-igniting keys.
    By plying those keys,
    He opened doors to vistas
    Where Black people were birthing
    A renown-bound future.
Eluding adult’s brimstone-sizzling stress,
    Beneath a dirt-antiquated tree,
    He studied comfortably
    And saw the spirits of the pundits.
At 55 seasons,
    With his ever-present pen and paper,
    He was runner-in-a-race-inspired—
    Those were his sight-igniting keys.
    By plying those keys,
    The child and a page converged
    And an aged griot emerged.




Text to Resurrect Revolution

Countee Cullen
and I are of this consensus:
Prejudice drafts psychopaths.
Their warpaths
transfix our people to many a crucifix.
There resides the reason why
my protest must never relax
from typing its attacks.

Addressed to your psyche,
my compositions are microphones for
Emmett Till, Michael Griffith,
Yusef Hawkins, Amadou Diallo,
Sean Bell, Ramarley Graham,
Trayvon Martin, Darius Simmons,
Jordan Davis, Renisha McBride,
Eric Garner, et cetera,
et cetera, et cetera.

Addressed to your psyche,
you can hear the murdered entreat:
“Don’t allow another name to join
a homicide report sheet.
Don’t allow another name to join
a homicide report sheet.”

Addressed to your psyche,
the compositions
I’ve written are parts of a bulletin,
the passages transmit
to our terra firma’s retina.

Addressed to your psyche,
my protest wants life
to evict the combustive
and discriminative.
If armed with you,
Lawfulness will live.




The Ire Required This Time

Yes, James Baldwin,
   I will always go tell it on the mountain.
   I will always go tell it on the mountain.
Yes, Nikki Giovanni,
   Quite a few of our hued humans can kill.
   They let large bullets discharge
   The way racecars charge.
   Quite a few of our hued humans
   Don’t understand they’re assisting the Klan.
   This is not what your poem wanted.
   You wanted the other lot shot, not our own.
   Regardless, unrelated criminal lives,
   Probably unaware of your diatribes,
   Gave us untold murder-related cries.
Yes, Toni Morrison,
   Quite a few of our hued humans
   Not only desire blue eyes,
   They desire skin bleach,
   Since it gets the paleness
   Cadavers always reach.
   Quite a few of our hued humans,
   Adrift along a blizzard,
   Blind under the order of their disorder,
   Cannot find ancestral beauty in a mirror.
Yes, Ralph Ellison,
   Quite a few of our hued humans
   Believe their campaigns
   For fair wages,
   Health care or equality
   Are air, wind and scents,
   Invisible concerns
   That soar out
   Legislators’ doors
   Or assorted windows.
Yes, Walter Mosley,
   There is a pre-colonial-old case
   Which still baffles
   Even Ezekiel Rawlins.
   The case’s evil outrivals all villains.
   Quite a few of our hued humans believe
   Every true gumshoe cannot sleuth
   Well enough to elucidate our crew
   About these queries:
   Will our hued humans indeed use
   Henry Sylvester-Williams’ prudence,
   And can our hued humans ever interfuse,
   Forming hands and arms,
   Conjoined to battle genocidal swarms?
Yes, James Baldwin,
   I will always go tell it on the mountain.
   I will always go tell it on the mountain.


Bob McNeil: "I was influenced by the Imagists and the Negritude Movement. Furthermore, after years of being a professional illustrator, spoken word artist and writer, I still hope to express and address the needs of the human mosaic."




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