Before Writing A Protest Poem [Peace to Gil]

Jose Vilson Jose

Gil Scott-Heron

Beautiful Sunday. Driving with my family back to NYC after my brother graduated a couple of weeks back. Before I knew Gil was on his last legs.

[taps pencil on Moleskine repeatedly]

“What to write, what to write …”

[taps knee with pencil, taps front car seat with pencil, bites eraser, gets tired of tapping]

“Ahhh! What the hell!”

[scratches head]

“Monuments shake and graves roll …”

[nods to a beat in his head]

“OK, what next, Vilson?”

“I told them the title of the poem is called ‘This Is Not A Test.’ What does it mean to test right now? I guess I better get all the big words out of the way. La la la, assessment. La la la, research. Doo doo doo, Ravitch, UGHGHGH NOO!!!”

[hard erasures]

“Why am I not at Acentos again? I’d crank this out in no time!”

[puts pencil down, puts iPod earphones in ear, lets it rock for a bit]

“OK, OK, it’s gotta be angry since we ought to be. It’s gotta be inspired. It’s gotta be powerful since I only have a few minutes.”

[“Who Will Survive In America” comes on, I set it to repeat]

Us living as we do upside down.
And the new word to have is revolution.
People don’t even want to hear the preacher
spill or spiel because God’s whole card has been thoroughly piqued.
And America is now blood and tears instead of milk and honey.
The youngsters who were programmed to continue
fucking up woke up one night digging
Paul Revere and Nat Turner as the good guys.

[heart beats hard, pencil taps furiously]

“This will do. This … is … not … a … test …”

Jose, who wishes Gil Scott-Heron a proper ascension …