Splotch of Krylon© black
Spray-paint changes the name
And character of downtown
Oakland’s main drag
To Bro Way and it shows.
When the businesses closed down
Behind thick plywood and nails,
Polychromatic murals went up,
Coating them with words and images.
Open air, free of charge
Art exhibit over two blocks wide.
Aerosol can-made homages
To the non-Caucasians no longer here—
Bayard Rustin, Ray Charles, John Lewis, Sandra Bland,
Emmett Till, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor—
And heroes still
Among the living—
Angela Davis, Cornel West, Boots Riley, Stevie Wonder—
Different sceneries in different hues declare
Liberation for the Africans here in the West.
The dead deserve justice,
The living, respect—
Who would’ve thought civil unrest,
Shattered windows, protestors battling cops,
Could bring a great surfeit
Of beautiful paint, art for blocks?
Dee is an African-Italian performance poet based in Oakland, California. Active on the creative writing & Spoken Word tips since the early 1990s. Author of 5 books [ Boneyard, Unwritten Law, Stormwater and Skeletal Black, all from POOR Press, and his newest from Conviction 2 Change Publishing, Elohi Unitsi ] and 28 anthology appearances under his figurative belt so far.