Triptych: Big Red

‘If there is no struggle there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom and yet depreciate agitation are men who want crops without plowing up the ground; they want rain without thunder and lightning; they want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters.’ —Frederick Douglass 



‘You are a glass that I have paid to shatter 
and I swallow the pieces down with my spit.’ 
—Buying The Whore, Anne Sexton 

 The Argument: In 1945 a two-bit hustler named Malcolm Little ruled the Harlem night. Born on May 19th, 1925 to the Reverend Earl Little and his wife, Louise, Malcolm had a childhood fraught with temptation and danger. Taking a cue from the Romans, he became their greatest advocate. 

 “Hey baby, the word is this: 
You can do it or you can not do it; 
that’s the choice-- it’s like some cat 
who comes dicin’ for some reefer without any stash. 
I say ‘It’s copacetic, my brother.’ 
BUT he knows he’ll hafta pay…. 

 ‘Cause you see, sweetness, there really ain’t no choice-- dig?-- 
that’s the game- the system- see? -whether or not you knows it. 
‘S‘like, one day a few months ago, I’m groovin’ with this main cat’o’mine 
in mah rubber cruisin’ by 143rd street and I sees 
this white bitch workin’ mah corner- 
and I’m rippin’ and spittin’ 
on the inside, but hey 
I am the icicle, dig? So my homeboy 
and I take her back to his pad and we crashin’ I and snortin’ 
and dis bitch is like same Lillian Gish bein’ I tied down to some railroad tracks 
not knowin’ dat de Detroit Red Express is bearin’ down on her 
white behind- and she trippin’ and smilin’ getting’ poked 
                    by her two big nigger stallions- 
and she beggin’ to be tied up (like she readin’ mah mind)- 
so we ties her up and fuck her till she’s got Africa drippin’ 
outta her pussy- 
O yes, praise De Lord, 
She groovin’, we movin’ 
whlle she’s funnin’ her fingers 
through mah pretty red conk 
shittin’ ‘bout how she needs 
a Negro stud to ‘set me right!’ 
So I’m laughin’ and smilin’ and she totally oblivious to mah choo-choo, 
choo-choo- ya dig?- I know you do- you one smart little piece- 
so I puts mah hands around her throat and kiss her neck gently 
cooing that shit those cunts love to hear from niggers 
so sweetly until- O mah Word! -mah hands slip tight around her neck 
and I says: 
              ‘Listen up, bitch! You ever crash our scene again 
               and I’ll blackjack and waylay you- dig? 
               You see, hon-nay, I’m a righteous man, a pious brother 
               and mah tolerance is strong- it’s broad 
               as the shoulders square on mah zoot, little sister, 
               but I EVER catch your pale ass pushin’ its way down there again 
               and, baby, the East River will be your next lay- dig? 
And she’s turnin’ purple and cryin’ and cursin’ de Lord 
for her wicked lust of niggers- never again! She screams, ‘NEVER AGAIN!’ 
as she screamin’ and runnin’ half-naked out of mah man’s apartment; 
probably back to her Nebraska cornfields and crackers. 
And mah man is strokin’ his wide-brim, jackin’ to his gold chain 
and the fear I put into this twat, and shit- now dig this!: 

                                                                                 Like later, 
when we goes jumpin’ joints up near The Apollo, swingin’ bigtime, 
and this nigger wants ta rip me mah due- o’course I’d let’im slide once or twice, 
claimin’ his number came in and smilin’ while I'm checkin’ 
mah stubs to confirm his bullshit; and he’s slick and oiled 
wit’ de lies he tryin’ to pass off, but his eyes is see-through as glass- 
               so mah blood smiles, like some cracker fresh from a Georgia lynchin’, 
and I smiles till- 
                                WHAM! I bust this nigger’s head wide open 
wit’ de butt-end of mah .45 and say, ‘JIGGA- 
now here's the skinny- You dig, 
NEE-GROW!? Don’t be ‘Daddy-o, 
slide me sane skin’-nin’ me, boy! 
I’ll fuck you hard up the ass 
with a brandin’ iron- see?- 
Don’t ever try ta be slickin’ Big Red! 
Now I staked you many a time and you repays me 
ike dis. Tsk-tsk, mah brother; 
mah daddy keeps strict accounts, 
and now he’ll hafta know….’ 
And mah mark, he starts cryin’ and beggin’ for forgiveness- 
claimin’ he could’a sworn he combinated jus’ right- 
and mah boy starts grinnin’ as I’m about to give dis fool Negro 
some advice- ‘cause Lord knows I believes in me- till we hear 
the sirens, so we gotta scat and cool it outta there 
so I says to this boy- wit’ spit in mah eyes and mah piece at his ear- 
‘Nee-Grow, I’m a patient man; I can wait for the harvest; 
I ain’t no fool- you thinks I’m a fool?- and he cries ‘NO!’- 
but NEVER, EVER fuck wit’ me, brother- just don’t do it!- 
‘cause one thing you needs ta learn is: Never fuck with a man 
who ain’t afraid ta die!- ‘cuz he can do any damn thing he wants!- dig?’ 

So we cut, and we be scattin’ and we be groovin’, 
sellin’ dope and coon-tang and numbers and scams 
till- guess what, Sweetness?- 
I meets up with you- all alone, 
straight from Ohio- that’s what you say?- 
all alone. Don’t cry, child. Big Red is here! He never be 
leavin’. He take care o’you, honey. But everythin’s got a price. 
You sow. You reap. You just gots to learn 
the system. I did! You will, too! 
You young. You pretty. You white. 
We be settin’ you up real fine; BUT 
you gots ta make the choice: 
               the ground is fertile, the Lord is righteous- 
                                 You smart- I know you’ll do right....” 



 ‘The man without a purpose is a man who drifts at the mercy of random feelings or unidentified urges and is capable of any evil, because he is totally out of control of his own life.’ —Ayn Rand 

 The Argument: In 1960 a hollow hustler named Malcolm X held The Nation Of Islam. Born from the ashes of a February, 1946 arrest-- and subsequent years in prison-- X devoted his prowess to persuade to the service of one Elijah Poole cum Muhammad, a tin-pot prophet of the kind the Apocalypse forewarns. But X minded not. 

“Yes, brothers and sisters, the truth is this: 
We did not come here for freedom’s glory. 
We came here for freedom’s gory. 
We came here not to be saved. 
We came here to be enslaved. 
We did not come here and land on Plymouth Rock. 
We came here and Plymouth Rock landed on us. 
We did not usurp and destroy our brothers’ lands. 
We did not rape and infect our sisters’ blood. 
We did not employ the piratical ways 
              of- what the white man so laughingly and gently calls- 
              the game, the system, to steal and to rob 
              from the black man, the brown man, the red man, the yellow man. 
The white man did; and so I charge the white man 
with murder, I charge the white man 
with kidnaping, I charge the white man 
with havoc, I charge the white man 
with malice, I charge the white man 
with destruction, I charge the white man 
with slavery, I charge the white man 
with the sins he longs so long to hide 
away from: the breaking of families, generations 
of young black men in institutions. And yes, 
with other lesser evils- the consumption 
of liquors and swine-flesh, the barter 
of women in slavery- I know you know I know 
what I’m talking about, brothers and sisters. 
So often in those concentration camps we call ‘ghettoes’ 
we pass by a brother or a sister in need for we have been lied to 
that this is the ‘American Way’, and too often 
the so-called ‘Negro’, the ‘Good Negro’ bows and, ‘Yassir’’s 
in fear that the few crumbs the white devil drops his way 
will be revoked, for my friends, you know and I know 
the acme of evil 
is the great white devil. 

And, people, let it be known, I come before you 
a product of the white devil’s ways and world, 
I come before you a vessel formerly filled with the sins 
of the white devil; yet I come before you 
a chastened man, a humbled man, an emptied glass, a willing servant 
to the greater cause, the glorious light- Allah- 
and I come as servant to his divine shepherd- 
             the Honorable Mister Elijah Muhammad. 
I am nothing. I have nothing. I have no purpose 
save this service. And I come before you 
to show you the strength of the chains that yet enslave you, 
the chains that you thought you had cast down a hundred years ago; 
Master Lincoln lied, Mister Douglass lied- that poor old Tom- 
and his children- the N.A.A.C.P., Dr. King- Dr. Uncle Thomas- 
bleating to us to be as lambs and lay with the reformed white wolf; 
‘the good white shepherd Jesus will protect you’ I they say. 
The shepherd that the wolf buys the wool he steals from our backs. 
The poisons that we ingest in the feed we line up for. 
The defecations in the trough of the waters we imbibe from. 
I SCREAM TO YOU- brothers and sisters- I SCREAM TO YOU: 
Spit out the white devil’s poisons, 
spit out the white devil’s lies 
lest you be surprised with the shards you find 
infecting the very spit you swallow. 
Refuse the white man’s poison! 
Refuse the white man’s woman! 
(and brothers, I know their wanton ways!) 
Refuse his narcotics! Refuse his wine! 
Refuse his cigarets! Refuse his swine! 
Refuse his lusts! Refuse his lies! 
Refuse his passions! Refuse his perversions! 
Refuse, most of all, his permission to refuse 
for, my friends, you all know 
                the acme of evil 
                is the great white devil. 

That devil, you know him, the one that lynched our sons, 
the one that spat on those poor boys from Scottsboro 
and a thousand thousand more from Alabama to Boston, 
from Austin to Africa. And yet some speak against us 
that we hate- that we are wrong not to turn the other cheek. 
Ye-es, ha-ha, the old white devil’s always ready to sic 
his faithful brown fine-breeds on the lowly brown stray 
that howls too loudly in his backyard. Yes, I ask you- 
Is it wrong to hate the stuffed white man who denies us liberty? 
Is it wrong to hate the puffed Jew who denies us prosperity? 
Who hides like a scorpion beneath our very eyes? 
Is it wrong to hate the hatred that made us deny our selves? 
Ha-ha, well, then you see the game, brothers and sisters- 
the shell game to keep us off balance- 
to get us thinking of our sins, our hatred, 
while still the heel of the white devil’s boot is on our necks; 
yet we don’t hate. WE DON’T HATE! 
Can the sheep hate the wolf? 
Can the rain hate the thunder? 
Does one hate the fool with his glass of dirty water? No. 
We need merely show him the glass full of clear water. 
Do we hate? Does Allah hate the heathen? No. 
Only pity does the Great One show. 
But do we fear? Yes. Do we fear 
the brilliance of the divine truth 
like the glory of the mid-day sun? Yes. 
We fear. But we do not fear evil, for friends- we know 
the acme of evil 
is the great white devil. 

And, brothers and sisters, you know that I love you. 
You know that Mister Elijah Muhammad loves you. 
You know that the divine Master loves you, 
              even though he cannot disclose his plans to you, 
and you know that the white man hates you and fears you 
for you are the Original Man, the image of the Divine one, 
the scepter of Allah’s right hand, notwithstanding 
the unholy race of Mr. Yacub- that big-headed fool; 
             this is why the bleached white devil calls you such vile and debased names: 
                            he calls you ‘nigger’, ‘jiggaboo’, ‘coon’, ‘boy’, ‘whore’, ‘bitch’…. 
And, well, do not be caught in the penumbra of our righteous cause. 
Do not be silent at the sight of a night stick. 
Do not be bowed by the weight of oppression’s might. Rise up, RISE UP from the muck, the briar patch that enslaves you. No more be kowed by the white straw demon. The white scarecrow shall hold you no more. No more! 
You have the right to defend yourself. 
You have the right to arm yourself. 
You have the right to protect yourself- 
             be it by anger, by fist, by gun, or by atomic bomb…. 
Ye-es, if needed, defend yourself by what ever means necessary! 
For you know, my brothers and sisters, 
                                  the acme of evil 
                                  is the great white devil. 

The truth is out there. 
Just open your eyes….” 



‘Forget the Past, his fate and fame shall be 
                                  An echo and a light unto eternity!’ 
                                          —Adonais, Percy Bysshe Shelley 

The Argument: In 1965 a devout man named El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz was murdered at 3:30 P.M. on February 21st. Born from a pilgrimage to Mecca, Shabazz drank from the well of Zenza, as well from his own soul. The Muslim-cum-Moslem, at last, was at peace. 

“It is this: 
Weep not for me. 
Weep not for the train as it departs. 
Weep not for the child that walks 
            toward the light. It consumes. 
Weep not for the hated. 
Weep not for the hater. 
Weep only for the hate. I shall. 
I shall not hate. I shall not presume. I shall not convict 
any man who has done no wrong by me. For I have shared 
water, bedding, clothing and love amongst those 
once I called devils. But now my eyes are open. 
So betray me, defile me, spit upon me- I shall not hate 
myself nor others. I have hated enough for a lifetime- 
a thousand lifetimes- yet I do not hate; 
not even the hate itself, for under the oneness 
of Allah, the oneness of all, the time has come 
to honor all men, all women, all children. 

And how does one stand to behold such love? 
And how does one stand in an empty time? 
Both are acts of perdurance. 
Both are sounds of soundlessness. 

This universe is a tiny mote, caught 
in the spin of minds and systems and galaxies 
mankind is but its simple wonder. 

My friends, this final tale shall I tell: 
A man, one day, down to the delta 
of a seaward river went. He feared 
its terrible break and awful pull 
until the sea spat mighty Leviathan 
at his feet. As the beast slowly 
and pitilessly died, the man did 
nothing save roar inward, at this omen, 
and he wept, in fear, as nothing, 
nothing at all, occurred….”
Dan Schneider edits Cosmoetica.