NYU Black Renaissance Noire NYU Black Renaissance Noire Volume 16.2: Fall 2016 - Page 59

By Hakim Hasan
The Time Before Was I .
People warehoused in apartments above bodegas , with hand stenciled awnings sniffling from dust mites , where dogs with sweaters don ’ t live . Rachel , a baby-picture girl , sits in the stairwell , cradles her cell phone waiting for Malik ’ s collect call .
Forty incarnate years ago he cracked atoms , wore shirts buttoned up to his windpipe , read Gibbons and Durant . He carried notebooks , twelve magic markers tied with red rubber bands in an executive briefcase . Now Malik walks single file against a prison wall .
Around the corner , on Martin Luther King Drive , brown boys wearing baggy jeans and baseball caps walk metronomically past an abandoned used car dealership . One says , “ Pop what you need ?” Pop ? Need ? Not sir ? Not even mister ?
No , “ I Have A Dream ” here .
A man kicks a crumpled lottery ticket past pockmarks of gum . Children smile . Run . Hide underneath their coats . Play a new game . Their parents burn kyara . Mask the smell of their fingers turning the pages of books . The leaders of the people are unaware of the ships floating on dry land , a quarter-mile from their picket signs .