Essex Hemphill (Video)

  • - [Michelle] This is Essex Hemphill.
  • He is an activist, or he was an activist, and poet.
  • He was born in 1957 in Chicago.
  • And he passed in 1995, which was also the year
  • that we lost Eazy-E, both of them to the AIDS epidemic.
  • I'd like to read Essex Hemphill's poem, The Tomb of Sorrow.
  • "When I die, honey chil', my angels will be tall, Black Drag Queens.
  • "I will eat their stockings as they fling them into the blue shadows of dawn.
  • "I will suck their purple lips
  • "to anoint my mouth for the utterance of prayer.
  • "My witnesses will have to answer to Go-Go music.
  • "Dancing and sweat will be required at my funeral.
  • "Someone will have to answer the mail I leave, the messages on my phone service;
  • "someone else will have to tend to the aching that drove me to seek soul.
  • "Everything different tests my faith.
  • "I have stood in places where the absence of light allowed me
  • "to live longer while at the same time it rendered me blind.
  • "I struggle against plagues, plots, pressure, paranoia.
  • "Everyone wants a price for my living.
  • "When I die, my angels, immaculate Black diva drag queens,
  • "all of them sequined and seductive, some of them will come back to haunt you,
  • I promise, honey chil'."