The Invention of Crack
Dark alliance. Crack smoked over this backdrop:
CIA seal, Contras. So much heavy weight.
How birds fly? How millions turn into guerrilla props:
AK-47s, & all else. White smoke. Rocks. The dead & dying.
Gary Webb’s tale of two horrors: Contra & crack.
Mr. Speaker, what is most
frightening about crack
is that it has made cocaine
widely available… Mr. Speaker,
I am afraid that the crack epidemic
will only get worse.
I wish to bring to the attention
of our colleagues an article,
“Extra-potent cocaine: use
rising sharply among teenagers.”
Confirms what many of us in the Congress
who have the responsibility of reviewing
federal drug abuse policy
have known for some time;
that the availability of “crack” –
cocaine in its purest state –
at low street prices will only
expand the abuse of cocaine nationwide.
Black man say crack will ruin. Senator Black Elect say scourge
& scourges & look behind the words & you know he knew
“there is always a prison for them.” This post Rockefeller,
after Carmona got laced with a life sentence for a hundred
dollars worth of heroin. Ain’t many black folks in Congress.
Keep saying Reagan did it. Black man say Reagan did it.
Reagan say look at the paper, the bodies in the street. Rangel
says scourge & you vote for him again & again & again
& the pen is still filled with the bodies. Ain’t no conspiracy here.
Hand to hands scared him. Black man watching the projects
turning into a war zone. Probably thought if no one notices
the zombies in the street he should. Don’t tell me he trafficked
in the New Jim Crow too. Rangel says scourge. All these years,
all these years & the bodies in prison & we done
stop counting but I know what he told the papers:
We’d stop counting. Stopped counting how many babies
lost their mothers to the pull of smoke running from aluminum.
We had. Stopped. Counting. Mr. Senator was out to duck ruin.
Ours. It seems. You think we counted our lost? Lost
Pounds, lost brothers? All the women who bartered
With the dirt their knees gathered in the dusk?”
The newest scourge on the streets
is a frightening low-cost substance
called crack. This form of cocaine
which users freebase, has been proved
lethal time and again, and it’s responsible
for an alarming number of episodes of death
and injury in recent weeks.
Nickel bag, Dime bag, Eight ball:
We invented a way for niggas to be
Good at math. Call me crackhead, call me
fiend, but I know my Daddy’s name
is what I tell them young boys,
Even as they wave me on to the spot
Where a kid my son’s age passes out rocks.
Jesus, some of us still be praying with aluminum between
Our lips. All our music reduced to something clever to say
about dope. Call it white lady. Call me snowman. Say
I move avalanches. I drought the city. From the first to the fifth
I got it all back. Crown me rap star. If I ain’t a hustler
what you call that. I was just trying to feed my babies.
Move weight. Fly birds. Call me Ricky Ross. Call me
Dopeman. Pusherman. He who gots bricks. Move that dope.
This, all of it, the abyss where men come to die. & the rest
of America goes to watch. Where Rangel at? Ha ha. & they
still say whitey did it. I been had my money on the man
that stay in office, that gets in office, that suits up to go
prosecute, that suits up to go defend. I say they did it. What?
Watch when the city went to ruins. Inheritance ain’t nothing
but memory. When the mayor & the reporters smoking too,
why we the only ones in jail? Where all those men who dreamed?
They keep saying in the 80s a Smokey, Teddy, Luther would have
Crooned to a crack pipe. We pray that Thou wilt grant, O Lord,
Whatever will that will bury what brought smoke, crystalline
white rocks to our streets.
“Rayful. Freeway Ricky. Supreme. Everyone wanting
To be Escobar. A poliferation of bodies enlarged
By cameras. Philargyist: lover of money, antecedent
To Andre 3 stacks, to all those pockets full of stones.
They say where the earth has no water there is a man
Craving the shiny glimmer of a nickel, or of the ragged
End of pipe in their mouths. 1980 something.
Corposant & corpse. Or fuck your hearse.
It take a nation of millions to hold
us back? Well they got that. We got that too.
Hands around our throat. Before you suffocate
your own fool self. Father forgive…
So the penitentiaries are barrels full of
Children running away from Jake, Bodine,
5-0, all these names for the same dance. On the Run.
& watch when the researchers come, notebooks in hands
writing about the dispossessed. About the clean & dirty.
Their idioms of death & whatnot. King me muthafucka,
they say when the research drops. Expert on the Negro
Problem. They become oracle & insight. & we get all
the dead bodies around us. Say so many people died one year
the District was worse than Vietnam. Per capita they say. Per
capital. Meaning all the capitals in the world was better to be in than
here where Sam did go to college no matter what the news say.
& he came back & paid rent like all these good folks
with dogs & shit do now. Talk about the victor writes history.
The Reagan Era, the cocaine era, them boys from Dunbar
could hoop is what I mean to say. All the dope gets in
the way though. Me remembering their story
a bag at a time & ain’t none of them get high.
My uncle caught touchdowns for Bladensburg,
where his story. My aunts ain’t get high, my mom,
where their story? All their history buried in the
narrative of the shooter, of the one pitching them kilos.
We buried a nation inside the lungs
That fill with smoke, & the smoke smothers the nation,
& the nation is the small child crying in the corner,
& the barrels are filled with crabs….
Joseph E. Lowery, president
the Southern Christian Leadership
Conference, urges blacks to turn in
drug pushers regardless of race.
“We are devastated spiritually
and emotionally by what crack
and other drugs are doing to our people,”
he said, ”Drugs represent the new
lynch mob that is more effectively killing
our people than the old lynch mobs.”
Always that same hurt,
You think a man don’t
Know what a high can do?
Flattened an entire city
Block a few guns did –
I tell my shadow we made
It all possible. You know
Getting high ain’t the move,
But ask someone who’s been
There, shit feels like coming
For days, that’s what they
Said about heroin – crack,
It feels like God has dropped
A piece of heaven behind
Your eyelids. After that, all
You want is to be that close
To an angel again.
“The Invention of Crack” is performed with Tsitsi Jaji, and is from Bastards of the Reagan Era (Four Way Books, 2015).