Don’t repeat your neighborhood to anyone


TEXT BY Tongo Eisen-Martin

William Eggleston (B. 1939), Untitled (Downtown Morton, Mississippi), c. 1970, © The Eggleston Trust

That’s my cousin eulogized now in literary history… wasn’t pretty… this effect on my eternal soul

I tried to cry on the side (face in a sink full of alcohol)

Fine flowers of struggle
              that color spectrum the cousin
                           who is dead if you brace yourself

It’s hard to write without my friend

No Malcolm positions on East Coast warfare
             My friend—in the audience with the earth’s coming mood

Mainland jazz

The organizing is all over me
Let me divine you the Lenox Ave. of the future…the river just keeps riding freights town to town

Violent revolution in this very year
              Open your paper to us

Rulers of the night train
Your humble dishwashers who lived to hum the details

To look into the future like a gentleperson
Three fifths of a typewriter

Do some math with me here in the absence of confidence
             The luxuries of a paranoia that you can finish later

                                                                       My friend died yesterday

Like belated parenting, we haunt each other in quick bursts now

Sample the drug
Wrestle the angel
No depth of setting

Hiding behind the hordes because I’m in the train business
You don’t need a ticket for a winter that only happened here

                          (Behind this room is my mind/ashes runneth over
                          Throwing around this room is my mind/brim of an innocent soul)

Which dollar deserves my neck?

Thinking about you is like sharing a ghost with half of the city’s afterlife
Thinking about you centers us

I’m just a small man in a basement window chronicling material conditions
Boiling water next to a change in the course of poor people’s consciousness

I cannot impress you with the names of guns

We haunt each other with absolute pragmatism
With the truth of Afrikan transcendence

Another city ends

We hear the fire out
“I never really did like the car they found me in”
                         Imagine what defines a creature

where remnants of concrete put none of the world down
except slabs of a dead-beat nationalism
or a bloodline making the news again

True, I have an absence of style

         Just a door step moving dead body to dead body




Tongo Eisen-Martin is an American radical poet. His poetry strives for bringing light to the contradictions and injustices of society and human relationships. It is informed by his socially and politically engaged practice. Collected works of his include, someone’s dead already, Heaven is All Goodbyes, a book edited by Anthony Huberman on David Hammons that containts work by Eisen-Martin and Fred Moten entitled, David Hammons Is on Our Mind, Waiting behind tornadoes for food and the soon to be published (fall 2021), Blood on the Fog.

Copyright Tongo Eisen-Martin. Published with permission by the author. CC licence is Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)