Paris is Burning

mai 1968 posters

Is Burning: Vive La Revolution!

Paris is burning
and I am already waiting for the
What-would-Toussaint-do? vintage t-shirt
The red black and green rubber bracelet
The run-like-a-mofo nikes
And the Fanon-is-my-homeboy trucker cap

Because Paris is burning
Thanks to the torch passed from Harlem and Watts and Los Angeles
All of which currently lie dormant
Slightly hung over yet still drunk off that other Paris and her current boyfriend
And the latest NFL game
and 50’s new movie
and lovely lady lumps
and their own deferred dreams

Paris is burning
But let them eat cake
And sing the Marseillaise
As France’s negritude is on display
Not behind glass at the Louvre
Nor on some model’s ass as she high steps down a catwalk
No, Paris’ negritude is running rampant in the streets and back alleys of its suburbs
Melting away all illusions of liberté fraternité egalité
Revealing the reality of papiers, s’ils vous plaît
And two dead teenagers

Yes, Paris is burning
And the wretched of the earth
Are free-running, faisant le parkour, through concrete suburbs
In their Adidas sweatsuits
While tossing Molotov cocktails
And shouting nique la police
Instead of just do it.

Paris is burning
And I am writing this poem
Between lattés at Peet’s
And downward dogs in yoga class
But this time the revolution will not be anthologized
It is burning to the rhythms of zouk and soukous and raï and hip hop
On the world wide web
In your neighbor’s Peugeot
In the local high school
And in the hearts of ghetto youth

So what would Toussaint do?
Or Fanon?
Or Césaire?
Or Malcolm?
Or Martin?

Or you?

November 12, 2005