In solidarity with Black Lives Matter, TNB Poetry has created this space for BIPOC voices to shine. We will be publishing work by Black poets daily.  Black Lives Matter.

a White friend was expressing how upset he was
by the burning and looting and random violence
being displayed by the thugs fighting our police.
He noted that calm protests and talking is best.

I gave his comments consideration and then said,

when has talking peace and protesting quietly
prevented Black men and boys from being
randomly targeted, victimized, murdered,
imprisoned and accepted here in a land
of free and brave like you, my friend?

Did drinking from water fountains
come about peace fully or were
bullets, batons and canines
used by our law and order
to viciously suppress
Americans just
having a wish
to live brave
and free?

Please list how the fruits of Black labor
reap the same benefits as the fruits
of yours, with institutional racism
seen in every pocket of society.

Since the introduction of slavery in this land,
when has talking worked, to change it?
Outright slavery has been replaced
by the Private Industrial Complex.
Revolving brown/black people
through these profit mills
affect these families
more than others.

My dear friend, some times
‘the Big Picture’ is much more
complex than what our eyes see.

Blessings abound,
and appearance
will deceive us.

a Loose Ramble.

White folks say
stop blaming slavery
for your looting and burning
local businesses to the ground.

Black folks all know
from day one chained
flogged branded raped
beaten to death just because,

complying with you
would build your wealth
and self value as a human
being out of touch with others.

The more hands you have
the bigger the house is,
the bigger the house
the more important.

You erase my language
(and stop me from learning
yours or any other,) leaving no
choice, except to create a new one.

Centuries later, you will say,
“They can’t even speak English”.

I will say, “If we had come through
Ellis Island, we’d likely be bi-lingual.

You erase my religion
and force me to worship
a White man nailed to a cross,
you say died for my unforgivable sins.

You breed me with sisters
mothers and unwilling others,
as my anger seethes 400 years
later and the past is present today.

“Hey man, slavery was 200 years ago,
and I got nothing to do with that.”

“You don’t sit on the throne physically,
but your unconscious certainly does.”

All feelings, the buried baggage will always surface
In desirable forms or not. The deeper the Hole is,
the more the conscious becomes unconscious.

the Unconscious surfaces as messengers
appearing unrelated to our forebears
and the past actions they took.

One mouth for shouting
Two ears for listening
and hearing the hard
truth may be painful.

The chattel cattle people
received a gift, they thought,
the Emancipation Proclamation
of 1863, freed all slaves held in areas
in rebellion against these United States.

Imprisonment (enslavement) continues today,
newly named (PIC)Prisoner Industrial Complex
where state and federal governments have turned
the management of prisons over to private corporations,
who turn them into revolving worker mills to generate profit.

When truth is apparent and not easily accepted,
we may find ourselves accusing others,
to deflect any blame or shame,
that may come our way.

When I listen to and discern truth,
not from the book of holy words
dictating how I am supposed
to live each and every day,
but from a closer truth
on each living breath
feeling love is alive
right here now
and now

When I first learn to accept
what still lives in my past,
only then will I forgive
my present self
or any other.

When I follow the high road,
life blossoms mountain highs
’round the bend and home again.

Back to white and black and
pink and brown yellow red
velvet lining the valentine
box bearing all life as an
image to hold close
while being loved.

I know, we started back there,
as Black and White people,
and am now right here
at 10:19 PM in 2020.

Let us call this one
‘a Loose Ramble’.
(likely needing
more revision).

Voting fraud. Really?

What amazes me is how
we will create a story
to affirm our needs.

“If those colored people vote,
we will certainly lose,
so stop them

with all means we have
in our arsenal.”

“With all means

in any way we can,
in a land of free
and pale folk”

Who breaks the law?

Who makes the law?
Legals came here,

killed the native buffalo food
chained a people’s body and mind
dropped atomic bombs on 2 large cities

and we still make the law.

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FRED NICHOLSON was born in Harlem, and was raised in a housing project on New York City's lower east side. After returning from Vietnam in 1968, he held a number of jobs in construction, commission sales, computer technology and as a taxi driver. In the mid 80's a mentor appeared in his life and said. "Fred, you are a writer. Sit down and write". From then 'til now, he has been doing so, on and off.

17 responses to “#AmplifyBlackPoetry: Poems from Fred Nicholson”

  1. Alan Newberg says:

    Fred is a personal friend of mine. He is multi-talented, expert in theater arts and the visual arts as well. His collages are profoundly wonderful.

  2. Kate Vikstrom says:

    Fred is my friend, and we have collaborated on a poetry/art project. I am deeply moved by his words.

    • Fred says:

      Thank you my friend. Your singing voice is heavenly and the water color impression of my poem, Goddess Supreme, was the perfect compliment. Again, a sincere thanks.

  3. Claire Makin says:

    Fred speaks truth from his heart straight into his readers’ own hearts, and I have a huge admiration for him and everything he creates.

    • Fred says:

      Claire, my friend from across the wide water, 30 years later your words still leave me with a happy and smiling heart. Blessings truly abound, Thank you.

  4. Leah Green says:

    Fred, your poetry is piercing – leaves my heart aching, exactly as it’s supposed to. Thank you friend, for sharing your gifts.

    • Fred says:

      I thank you Leah, and for sharing your ‘gift of loving’ program with so many others, around the world.

  5. Hanna says:

    As always- your words speak power

  6. Nyarkoa Yaa says:

    Yes Unc! Speak da trut!

  7. Sondra says:

    My brother, your honest heart is laid bare through your narrative collage and speak with strength to this brutal day. Peace

    • Fred says:

      Sister Sondra, my honest heart thanks you,
      all the while knowing change is inevitable,
      and the only constant this life guarantees.

  8. Bob Dyer says:

    My dear friend, some times
    ‘the Big Picture’ is much more
    complex than what our eyes see.
    I would say:
    ‘the Big Picture’ is much more
    insidious and painful than what
    our WHITE eyes WANT TO see!!

    This latest string of incidents has finally clicked in me such that I finally FEEL my complicity in the Institutional Racism that infects our country. Some will say, “Let the black man clean up his problems first.” Fuck that! That’s none of my business, and not within my power to change. We Whites are the ones who have the responsibility and onus to affect this dynamic in our culture. It’s way past time to purge our guts of false entitlement and get to work.

    The questions I’ve been asking myself over and over: “What can I do? Where do I begin?” Finally the answer came: Educate myself! Don’t ask people of color to do it. Take responsibility for my own ignorance, both willful and not – and begin.

    The information is out there. So I’m reading, and I’ll continue reading until my next steps become obvious…

    I would say to you Fred, “Our goals may be similar, but our fields of battle are different. Continue to do what you are doing in yours. I pledge to do what I can do in mine. We will meet on that cleared patch of ground one day.”

    Brothers in arms once again.

    • Fred says:

      Hello there Bob, my friend.

      “We will meet on that cleared path
      of ground one day.”

      Made me think of King’s ‘I have a Dream’.
      It is true, sometimes a little violence, will shake us up. I have seen human nature, maybe all nature resists change. Seed to plant to flower to fruit,
      a path laden with peril. The fruit we bear
      through our personal growth, will hope fully serve
      a community of life, larger than me mine and I.

      Bob, white or black, our hearts beat the same.
      Beneath the cloak of color is where ‘coming together’ resides, is how I see it.

      I love you Bob.
      May we keep,
      keeping on.

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