Concrete Lion


"You used to have such good hair"
My Grandmother occasionally says
It seems to be something even total strangers
Have an opinion about

The hair, they ask me,
How I grew it or if it's even real
Is it heavy or hot? Do I wash it...?

Some attach stereotype; some, no symbolism at all
But once I have their ear 
I reveal the truth to them:
I am a lion

I am a displaced wildcat awakening in the wilderness
After 400 years of hibernationAwakened by talking drums
That have reverberated across the Atlantic

Through common traditions

I am the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecy
Of Egyptian and Ethiopian progeny making the creator
Their only sovereign
The crowning of Ras Tafari was the seal
My crowning, my covenant, and flag of a nation of billion
Transcending the illusion of man-made borders

Infidels dread the locks
Like their own judgmentMy knotty textured mane
Symbolizing the dark matter core of the sun
And the universe itself
Heavy mass and density firmly wound
On the verge of fiery explosion

I am a lion
Leading the pride, traveling on rootical instinct
I am Marcus Garvey on the Black Star Line
I am Menelik of Sheba, leading a caravan
From his father's land with the Ark in hand

I am Moses leading the Exodus, movement of Jah people
Not everybody dreadlocking calls Selassie I
But in spirit, many of us are
One people, aim, and destiny

Consciousness traced on follicle paths
Through the Levant, the Nile Valley and along
The Sea of Reeds
If the Fertile Crescent was the cradle of Civilization,
Northeast Africa is the womb

The lion's mane is identification and antenna
You ever notice how on the train or in a club the
Dreads sort of ... congregate?
That magnetism has to keep us together
Sometimes on the street,
Black children unaware of their heritage try to dis

Sometimes alkie-fed, crew-cut frat brats mockingly shout
"The joke's on you paleface
Bob Marley's a prophet that I think you ought to listen to
If you only knew he was challenging you
To be more human

Like Nya warriors and the Baye Fall,
The hair stays locked up
Like so many of mine in Babylon dungeons
Coils tight like formations of freedom fighters

I'm a soul rebel, a buffalo soldier
Fighting on the black-hand side
Of AmeriKKKa's cold war with itself
And I'm coming in hot

I have taken an oath to uplift Black people en masse
When we marched a million deep on Uncle Sam's front yard
It was to declare I&I cultural responsibility
I will not be state property for your entertainment

When it comes to the definition
I prefer to make a living statement beyond scripture
Beyond the anti-politick of non-conformity
Are the stories told in the length of the locks

Their documents and his story don't define me
I took my first payment of reparation
When I declared freedom from the home of the slave
Why do I rock the lion's mane?
The conquering lion shall break every chain

I am not Jamaican or Trini
I come rough-hewn from jungles of concrete
And urban sprawl
Grab your dictionary
Look up 'diaspora,' 'culture,' and 'legacy'
There you will find me

Teaching cubs to walk before they run
To rest before the dawn and create their own fate
To demand justice before peace and to love before they fight
That death only comes to fools
And never forget that you are a lion



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Last updated: April 27, 2008 

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