For Don Rennick

Attica, O Attica
Where are my presidents now?
the ones I knew from the prison
where I knew nothing but poison
twenty years ago
The blood from the bruise still lingers
the blood from the bruise plays on
I was once a professor of tears there
I felt like I was a prisoner there myself
O let the blood from the bruise come out

Attica, O Attica
So soft spoken were you
My Jefferson, my Lincoln
and my Washington
That I would vote for all of you
once again
You may have talked about gin and juice
but you never drove Lamborghinis
through my forehead
Or boasted about your Courvoisier
attired in bling bling jewlery
and for this I was proud
You have not been served well
by the slender Pinocchio of crime
The slaves of MTV
The slaves of vision
Dr. King would have been ashamed of

Attica, O Attica
Are you still alive my presidents?
I am afraid to read the obituaries
from the other side of the street
Were you assassinated, my presidents?
from the gangsta streets at dawn?
Are you still using and abusing?
I’m afraid I am
I am sure you are as well
But at least we never wasted time
with photographs on Facebook that show
what we had for lunch at Lutece
We went straight to work
making long over-due additions
to our own Magna Carta
that was magnificent reading
for the boys in Cell Block B

Attica, O Attica
The ghosts of Malcom X
revive the cups that rattle on
through the bars of the cage
A grammar
no one no speaks about at Oxford
The police never caught me
but they certainly caught you
with ten year sentences
that never seemed to lapse
Through these riots of hell
you did nothing but grass

Attica, O Attica
Snoop Dog taught you everything
And yet
you wanted to know about Shakespeare
you wanted to know
that in negativity, all truth appears
We became experts on negativity
working in three hour shifts
as blizzards tore through the ribbon wire
every night
as Molach raised his mighty hand
as Molach held us so tight

Attica, O Attica
There is no room for you on the TV
I never did care for your music
Alas, you never did care for mine
but we both stood in cells
we both did sufficient time
The Republican governor told me
I was just making smarter criminals
He eliminated me from your text
Go fuck yourself Pataki
wherever you are
Don’t fuck with the presidents
you were just a governor on smack

Attica, O Attica
No charter of rights will protect you
you are off on your own now
Through the same sad saxaphone
that produced me
produced you
On a field of ash where I first saw you
manacled by the wrists down the long hill
You looked like sheep herded by
sadistic shephards

Attica, O Attica
I was in the Bowery not so long ago
drinking your Ole Gold
and I looked for you everywhere
I looked for myself everywhere
among the broken crowd
Who wear suspenders around
the alphabets of the city
that spell nothing
My dear presidents of men
named by your ancestors
to give you a break
through the marketing of man
just like your Nike’s
The leaves of grass I sent you
were not enough to keep you from harm
The tongue of the polyglot corporation
keeps us assembled forever

Attica, O Attica
Between Robbie Burns and Dr. Dre
We held the red red roses of death
The same bouquet of death
as Death Row Records
The rancid perfume of the hood
the giver of life
Made of crosses we crossed together
through Clinton Street
we were mortified
And so said the prophet

For I believe in you, my sons
And through the crack houses shall come
the winds that will sweep out tomorrow

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