Dec 24 2015

i don’t think it important

to say you murdered malcolm

or that you didn’t murder malcolm

i find you vital and powerful

i am aware that you use me

but doesn’t everyone

i am comfortable in your house

i am comfortable in your language

i know your mind   i have an interest

in your security, your civilization

compares favorably with any known

your power is incomparable

i understand why you would destroy

the world rather than pass it to lesser

people. i agree completely.

aristotle tells us in the physics

that power and existence are one

all i want is to sit quietly

and read books and earn

my right to exist. come—

i’ve made you a fantastic dish.

you must try it, if not now

very soon.

Welton Smith, who was born in Houston, Texas, is the author of Penetration (1972), a collection of poems, and The Roach Riders, a play. His poem sequence “Malcolm,” which was included in the historic 1968 Black Arts collection Black Fire: An Anthology of Afro-American Writing, edited by Larry Neal and Amiri Baraka, is one of a number of elegies written after Malcolm X was killed in 1965. Its tonal shifts help make it one of the most memorable and one of the more inventive poems to come out of the Black Arts movement.