The Spoken Word: Wine

by James Manning

I know a little boy on a backward ghetto street.
He is the first son - the first one slaughtered.
He was taught to find faith –
first in a hymn , then in a wine bottle.
Hope was gin.
Living – Well, living was to sin.
Where he started, life and hell begins.
He was beyond getting by,
just barely making ends.

On that backward ghetto street
each turn is a dead end.
Where dead men dared not
to believe in life.
Life was the punishment – a sentence to time.
Where the need for tears were replaced with
sipped wine.
Death was known as awakening - the procession,
walking with misfits.
The corner played the coffin.
The eulogy: “Nigga, stop hoggin’ my shit.”

Dead men die where they lay.
Somebody call the Preacher!
Somebody call the Preacher!
Dead men are dying in deceptions.
Dead men pass death.
Dealing apathetic truths.
Somebody call the Preacher!
Cuz dead men are dealing death to my youth.

Parasites preying on the ghetto with hopes of
false status and ends.
Dead men on that dead end wallow in their sin.
Convincing young men of the cesspool,
it’s cool if you jump in.
“Playa you gotta be down,

These streets don’t love know love nobody
it’s play or be played.
But it’s at the dead end that death gathers
where he initiates your crack heads.

Preaching power is in the pipe.
He preaches the pipe power,
making money off their grief.
He promises them paradise.
but their state of euphoria is brief.

Because he is just the ghetto shepherd,
a leader of a lost heard.
And his words lead them to the streets
but only get them as far as the curb.

Where the gutter awaits to stockpile lost lives.
And in their rage they call out to that little boy that walks by…

The backward ghetto street
is bordered by the dead end and the gutter.
And there are those that fell in
that won’t allow others to walk further.

So the little boy on the backward ghetto street
has it placed in his mind
that he will somehow reach the gutter
if given enough time.

Whether it’s by the lure of those dollars or by the hand of his brother…
He is part of the ghetto and must choose one or the other,
be that..
shepherd or the sheep
die at…
the curb or in the street
live as…
a thug or a killer
be that…
crack head or dealer.

These are the ghetto choices lingering in his mind.
So while he ponders the way in which he will die.
He eases the pain with…
sipped wine.