Featured Artists, Poetry, Volume 3, Words

The Mack

The Mack

A. Van Jordan

The Mack

(Michael Campus, 1973)

 

Whether a little boy who grows
into a pimp, or a young girl who

 

descends into a ho, they both
hold in memory a mother

 

framed in a front door, calling, nightly,
calling them into the house. But The Game

 

calls, too, and what man or woman
can resist an open hand extended

 

in the middle of a night? Cliché
comes to mind, maybe, when you think

 

of the pimp with a heart of stone,
but consider this an act to conceal

 

the weakness in his conscience,
which science has yet to study.

 

The young girl, now a woman, will
act, too, as a comfort to him or

 

she’ll choose another. And when the other
man reminds him,
You know the game, nigga;

 

Yo’ bitch chose me, what more can he do
but offer a threat to conceal the boy

 

inside, who remembers he has a mother
calling him into the house? What can she do,

 

this young woman, but remember how pretty her
mother’s face was, framed in the doorway?

 

Though she remembers the screen door
striking closed behind her mother’s voice,

 

she stayed out. Why didn’t they just head home
when the streetlights buzzed on? Too late

 

for questions now. By the time grown
folks are talking,’ all hope is lost.

 

These are niggas with money
problems; that is, their pockets

 

Look like they got the mumps. Some
brotha is talking unity in the black

 

community, calling the pimp
into the house, calling the ho

 

off the corner before those street lights
shine down on her face. What does he know

 

about life at the top? This brotha? Blackness
now is just fodder for race theory later. But

 

today, Goldie, the pimp, hands out money
to kids who stay in school. He’s the Mack

 

of the Year, but his ass is confused, too,
if he doesn’t hear the mothers calling

 

for his head on a stick, which he’ll
probably think is just a cool cane.

 

Poor, pastel-suit-wearin’ muthafucka.
Pimp, you ain’t no hero, so take off

 

your cape. Sista, listen, even a blue-collar worker
knows at the end of the week

 

you gotta pay yourself, first.
There may not be any food in the house

 

for the young girl, there may not be a tv
in the house for the little boy, but stop looking

 

at your poop-butt friends when I’m talking to you.
Stop asking questions when grown folks are talkin’;

 

you need to bring your young self home, even if you
think there’s nothing there waiting on you. Boy,

 

git your ass in this house, and leave those girls alone!

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FUSION is Berklee College of Music’s global arts magazine. We publish writing, art, photography, video, and music by our students, alumni, faculty, staff, and internationally recognized guest artists.