The Blackstone Rangers By Gwendolyn Brooks

I
AS SEEN BY DISCIPLINES


There they are.
Thirty at the corner.   
Black, raw, ready.
Sores in the city
that do not want to heal.



II
THE LEADERS


Jeff. Gene. Geronimo. And Bop.
They cancel, cure and curry.
Hardly the dupes of the downtown thing   
the cold bonbon,
the rhinestone thing. And hardly
in a hurry.
Hardly Belafonte, King,
Black Jesus, Stokely, Malcolm X or Rap.   
Bungled trophies.
Their country is a Nation on no map.

Jeff, Gene, Geronimo and Bop
in the passionate noon,
in bewitching night
are the detailed men, the copious men.
They curry, cure,
they cancel, cancelled images whose Concerts   
are not divine, vivacious; the different tins   
are intense last entries; pagan argument;
translations of the night.

The Blackstone bitter bureaus
(bureaucracy is footloose) edit, fuse
unfashionable damnations and descent;
and exulting, monstrous hand on monstrous hand,   
construct, strangely, a monstrous pearl or grace.



III
GANG GIRLS

A Rangerette


Gang Girls are sweet exotics.
Mary Ann
uses the nutrients of her orient,
but sometimes sighs for Cities of blue and jewel   
beyond her Ranger rim of Cottage Grove.   
(Bowery Boys, Disciples, Whip-Birds will   
dissolve no margins, stop no savory sanctities.)

Mary is
a rose in a whiskey glass.

Mary’s
Februaries shudder and are gone. Aprils   
fret frankly, lilac hurries on.
Summer is a hard irregular ridge.
October looks away.
And that’s the Year!
                     Save for her bugle-love.   
Save for the bleat of not-obese devotion.
Save for Somebody Terribly Dying, under
the philanthropy of robins. Save for her Ranger   
bringing
an amount of rainbow in a string-drawn bag.   
“Where did you get the diamond?” Do not ask:   
but swallow, straight, the spirals of his flask   
and assist him at your zipper; pet his lips
and help him clutch you.

Love’s another departure.
Will there be any arrivals, confirmations?   
Will there be gleaning?

Mary, the Shakedancer’s child
from the rooming-flat, pants carefully, peers at   
her laboring lover ....
                     Mary! Mary Ann!
Settle for sandwiches! settle for stocking caps!   
for sudden blood, aborted carnival,
the props and niceties of non-loneliness—
the rhymes of Leaning.
Gwendolyn Brooks, “The Blackstone Rangers,” from Blacks (Chicago: Third World Press, 1987). Reprinted by consent of Brooks Permissions.

Source: Blacks (Third World Press, 1987)

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