Russell Goings
 
  Russell Goings studied writing at Fairfield University and the 92nd Street Y. He has been writing poetry for sixteen years. He was a pro football player, the first African American brokerage manager for a New York Stock Exchange Member firm; the first owner of an African American firm to manage assets for Fortune 500 companies; the first African American Chairman of the Studio Museum in Harlem; and founder and Chairman for Essence magazine. An inductee into the Wall Street Hall of Fame, Goings has also been featured in the New York Times, Newsweek, and Black Enterprise magazine. His book, The Children of Children Keep Coming, was published by Simon and Schuster.

 

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The above digital poem, featuring the sixth grade class at the Manhattan Country School,
is an excerpt from the book, The Children of Children Keep Coming,
by Russell Goings

 

Prometheus

Every day I sing,
Sing a long, sad song.

Zeus, you know whether
I am right or wrong.

Every day I sing,
Sing a long, sad song,

While every day an eagle feeds
On me.  And every day

I wear my suffering;
It is an emblem of my deed,

And every day I smile
When I see fumes rising high in rows,

Carrying more than dense
Smoke.  Carrying thoughts;

Carrying enlightenment;
Carrying my resentment;

Carrying my disappointment;
Carrying my eternal appointment.

Prometheus must stay; hour
After hour and every day he prays,

Knowing he'll never get away.
Every day he wears his pay--

An emblem of his humanity--
And every day Prometheus is tied

To the mountainside, facing another
Rising sun.  He too is a crucified son.

From the mountaintop
He calls family:

Never, never again a father,
A lover, a brother.

Life doesn't mean a thing without
Fire and light, without knowledge.

Zeus, hour after hour,
I sing: it's you, for sure.

It's just you who owns
The true score!





A GIFT


A gift from my parents
Is a rock. When they gave
It to me they said: stand
On solid ground. Look upward,
Not down; wade in rivers,
Cross seas; avoid being
Swept by tides. Always
Meet the dawn with a new face.
Bathe in the warmth of your
Conscience. On this gift
Always stand tall!
.

With insight, polish it
With intelligence, intellect.
Feel its strength. Understand
Grains of sand hold it together.
We hold you daughter, like
The grains of sand; hold this
Rock. Remember we are family.
A family that shares the same
Belief. Keep this symbol
of our love. Hold it.
Know itís more than a rock.

 

Say, Young Sweet Thang, Whatcha Gonna Do?

The dribbling stops.  He palms
The basketball.  His 6í5Ē body
Ripples with muscles.  His eyes
Swallow her, his mouth gaps
Wide.  When he waves the palmed
Ball, through a seductive grin
And greedy, cloying eyes, he asks,

Say, young sweet thang,
Whatcha gonna do?

     Man, I gonna mold my mind,
     My body and spirit with hope.
     I gonna wear pride with dignity,
     I gonna crown experience with
     Intelligence, awareness.

Say, young sweet thang,
Whatcha gonna do?

     I gonna stay on the path
     Of honor and nobility.
     I gonna write my lyric,
     Dance to my music,
     Sing my song.
     I gonna reshape the blues. 
     I gonna unearth
     Hidden meanings and Iím
     Gonna color lifeís moods
     Bright.

Say, young sweet thang,
Whatcha gonna do?

     I gonna lay new seeds
     In fertile ground.  Iím gonna
     Frolic in my orchard, I gonna
     Enjoy my fruit.  I gonna taste
     The bread of life, and when I cross
     The bridge of doubt,
      Iím gonna eliminate fear
     And avoid regret.

Say, young sweet thang,
Whatcha gonna do?

     Every day I gonna face
     A brighter dawn.  I gonna
     Color all the seasons with
     Being true to me.  I gonna
     Wade in the water above my knee.

Say, young sweet thang,
Whatcha gonna do?

     Iím gonna swim in clarity,
     Iím gonna cross rivers,
     Iím gonna build my own castle.

Say, young sweet thang,
Whatcha gonna do?

     Iím gonna bathe in the warm
     Breeze of innocence.
     Iím gonna protect
     My self-esteem.
     Iím gonna wash my hands
     In purity, dry them
     In honesty.

     Man, Iím gonna wrap my dreams
     In reality.  Iím gonna keep my
     Eyes on the prize; thereís no
     Beams carrying a surprise cause
     My theme streams:

     Everyday Iím gonna comb
     My hair, dress with haste
     And taste. Avoid waste!

Say, young sweet thang,
Whatcha gonna do?

     Iím gonna ring the bells
     of Awareness.

     This day an every day
      Iím gonna meet my future.

Whatcha say?
     Iíve drawn the line,
     Iím gonna cherish my youth. 
     Iím gonna run right past you.
     Thatís what Iím gonna do.

ball falls, delivering

 




Cain Tomorrow Will Accuse

Able cries,
Cain, you have shoes.
I have shoes. Why?

Why, why me you choose?

Over hills Cainís voice spills,
Filling, calling, chilling, killing
The next moments with fight.


Able calls:
Can we walk and talk together
In God's light?
Can what you feel be stilled?
Must I die? Must...must...

Over hills Abelís voices speaks of love.
Cain allows the brief moment from above
To wither. He watches it disappear to a failing
Late, dying light; darkness brings fate:

Soon deathís date arrives; soon
Lifeís light dwindles dim; soon
Life dies; soon life no longer enables.

Abel's blood spills
Filling the blood brooding
Burst moment with...

Cain sings Abel
You have shoes. I have shoes.
You choose; I die. This day death choose.
Today I lose. Cainís last shout:
Abel tomorrowís light will accuse.




I Am the Son of a Black Man!

I am the son of a Black man.
I am black like the midnight sun.
I bathe in the Nile.
I wade in Lake Victoria.
I ride on the wings of wonder.
I roll like thunder; my thunder rolls
Over and under the mighty who work to
Keep Blacks in the shade.

When burnishing a new sunrise
I never wear a disguise. My soulfull music
Gleams and glides effortlessly,
Entering hands, minds and hearts.
I am the hands of the son that braids dreams.

Every day, all day while coffled
I row against the crowsí tides.
Between strokes,
I place unbreakable spokes in reams;
I fortify seams and beams that play in
Streams, where my soufull lifeís music
Glides and gleams.

I am the fluted lips of a son of a black man.
I carry notes that tap, that jump, that rap.
Notes that sing, notes that hold and bind.
Notes that enfold, that sing, in songs,
Notes that spill, filling souls with soul.

I am a son of a Black man.
I sculpt granite.
I never ignore what gifts
God planted on his planet.
I harvest the gifts he planted.
I am the son of a Black man
You can trust; I will never rust.
My varnish will never peel.
I am the son you can feel, I sing.
Truth peals, it just peals.
Honesty matters.
Good deeds never shatter.

I am the son of a Black man that
Dances day and night
Under a bright full moon.
I hammer, I forge time,
Knowing my passion for freedom
Will never take flight.
I temper liberty and equality.

I mete justice and fashion the carillons of awareness.
I am the son of a black man
that drinks at the well with my brothers:
Malcolm, Marcus, Booker T.,
DuBois, John Brown, Nat Turner.
We share fresh water with our sisters:
Sojourner, Harriet, Ida B.,
Ma Rainey, Mahalia, Billie Holiday.

I am the son of a Black man
That watches the bellows
Intensify the sparks of imagination,
That flames intelligence and intellect,
In the room where truth glows.
I am the son of a Black man.



Is That Black Music I Hear?


Today, the sounds of my people chained and shackled helplessly in the hull of hell floats through the air in triumphal songs: the music of my people suffering at the hand of oppression; the music of my people enduring persecution; the music of my people longing for family; the music of my people seeking justice and freedom. Is that Black Music I hear?

Is that Black music I hear when my people reverberate with the voices of their ancestors, with ancestors' songs, to express the anguish of their souls, the fragility of their spirits, the pain of their dreams, the wealth of their hope, the belief in their Gods, and the fortitude of their faith? Is that Black Music I hear?

Is that Black music I hear when my brothers, shackled foot to foot, sing songs of lament, of hope, of determination while laboring across this land building bridges, railroads and factories, paving roads, picking cotton, and tobacco; cutting sugar cane, hammering rocks into dust, shoveling dirt into mountains, digging craters for tunnels and waterways, laying foundations? Is that Black Music I hear?

Is that Black music I hear in the footsteps of determined men of courage marching defiantly down the roads of hell with unbowed spirits; refusing to fear that the sun may not rise tomorrow? Men who find redemption in their blues, salvation in their hope, perseverance in their faith, and belief in the dream that their God will deliver a brighter day? Is that Black Music I hear?

Is that Black music I hear in the quiet neglect of the downtrodden, the homeless, the hungry, the shiftless, the have-nots and the do-withouts? The music of the Delta, of New Orleans, of Chicago, of Kansas City, of Los Angeles, of New York, of St. Louis? The music of Joe ďKingĒ Oliver, Fletcher Henderson, Louis Armstrong, Nobble Sissle, W.C. Handy, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Cab Calloway? Is that Black Music I hear?

Is that the music that causes the heart to race, the pulse to pace, the mouth to dry, the words to stumble, the veracity of right and wrong to be muddledóto sway into maybes, to become okays, to blur as one? The music that takes words of sweet nothings whispered into willing ears and caresses them into wondrous somethings? Is that Black Music I hear?

Is that the music that causes innocent girls holding hands with naÔve boys to exchange favors for promises of paradise? Is it the music that pushes common sense into corners of stupor; the music of desire that allows an unabashed heart to interact with a glib tongue? Is it the music that draws you closer to the notion of love and makes the response to touch, smell, sound and taste more sensual? Is that Black Music I hear?

Is that the music that makes you tap your feet, snap your fingers, clap your hands, sway your hips, flash your eyes, and shout Godís blessings in song, in dance, in prayer? Is that Black Music I hear?

Is it the music spoken through the voices of Frederick Douglass, Nat Turner,
Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, John Brown, Marcus Garvey, Malcolm X, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Jr., The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, and the millions of nameless men and women singing their anthem, ďLift every voice and sing, Ďtil earth and heaven ring,Ē sacrificing their lives for the greater good of America? Is that Black Music I hear?

Is that the music from the souls of Bessie Smith, Ma Rainey, Howlin Wolf, B.B. King, Ray Charles, Sarah Vaughn, Billy Eckstein, Ella Fitzgerald, Miles Davis, Erroll Garner, Thelonious Monk, Bud Powell, Dizzy Gillespie? The music that reflects the orchestral soul of an indomitable, creative people whose symphonic gift to this country is their collective soul? Is that Black Music I hear?

Is that the sounds of Gospel, of Rhythm, of Blues, of Soul, of Folk Songs, of Spirituals, of Swing, of Dixie, of Ragtime, of Be-Bop, of Hip-Hop, of Jazz? The music that year after year helps a people survive the burdens of Monday to Friday, celebrate the dance of Saturday, and praise and surrender ones soul to the Lord on Sunday? Is that Black Music I hear?

Is that the music of a people trampling the roads to freedom? The music of a soulfullizing people speaking, singing, creating through their new tongues, their native drums, their gift from God to express: their love, their beauty, their brotherhood, their kindred spirit? Is that Black Music I hear?

Is that the music that black folks create and white performers try to imitate? The songs of the Kings and Queens of Pop, Rock, Gospel and Soul, the sounds of the Giants of Jazz; the rhythms of James Brown, Little Richard, Michael Jackson, Aretha Franklin? The syncopation that flies through Charlie ďBirdĒ Parker, leaps through Lester Young, bounces with Bud Powell, and rhythm-a-nings with Thelonious Monk? The sounds dredged from the inner being of the soul of a people? Is that Black Music I hear?

Is that the music I hear today, October 16, 1995, in the sounds of one million Black men? The music I hear in the calls for collective awareness, collective voting, collective buying, and collective boycotting? The symphony I hear as one million Black men march to powerócradled by the motherly and nurturing arms of unity, of intelligence, of self-determination, and brotherhood? The music to which these men raise clenched fists and pledge in cadence to the call of their fathers, forefathers, and ancestral spirits? Is that Black Music I hear?

Listen carefully and you will hear the music. You will hear the voices of a mighty people rising above this nation, traversing urban cities, passing rural towns, visiting schools, permeating colleges, swishing basketball courts, clanking jails, buzzing barbershops, and racing along the byways and highways of Americaís intricate infrastructure to deliver an urgent plea. Can you hear the music? The music of a powerful people.

Is that Black music you hear? Is it? Is it the music of my people?


 

  Russell Goings studied writing at Fairfield University and the 92nd Street Y. He has been writing poetry for sixteen years. He was a pro football player, the first African American brokerage manager for a New York Stock Exchange Member firm; the first owner of an African American firm to manage assets for Fortune 500 companies; the first African American Chairman of the Studio Museum in Harlem; and founder and Chairman for Essence magazine. An inductee into the Wall Street Hall of Fame, Goings has also been featured in the New York Times, Newsweek, and Black Enterprise magazine. His book, The Children of Children Keep Coming, was published by Simon and Schuster.
 



Copyright © 2010 Russell Goings