for Walter Bradford
1. This is the urgency: Live! and have your blooming in the noise of the whirlwind. 2. Salve salvage in the spin. Endorse the splendor splashes; stylize the flawed utility; prop a malign or failing light– but know the whirlwind is our commonwealth. Not the easy man, who rides above them all, not the jumbo brigand, not the pet bird of poets, that sweetest sonnet, shall straddle the whirlwind. Nevertheless, live. 3. All about are the cold places, all about are the pushmen and jeopardy, theft— all about are the stormers and scramblers but what must our Season be, which starts from Fear? Live and go out. Define and medicate the whirlwind. 4. The time cracks into furious flower. Lifts its face all unashamed. And sways in wicked grace. Whose half-black hands assemble oranges is tom-tom hearted (goes in bearing oranges and boom). And there are bells for orphans— and red and shriek and sheen. A garbageman is dignified as any diplomat. Big Bessie’s feet hurt like nobody’s business, but she stands—bigly—under the unruly scrutiny, stands in the wild weed. In the wild weed she is a citizen, and is a moment of highest quality; admirable. It is lonesome, yes. For we are the last of the loud. Nevertheless, live. Conduct your blooming in the noise and whip of the whirlwind.
From In the Mecca by Gwendolyn Brooks. New York: Harper & Row. Copyright © 1968. Reprinted by consent of Brooks Permissions.