The Corner – Naptown

40th street

On the corner early 80s always waiting outside,
Claim you never had a Curl, fool yous a lie,
Mines was like Michael Jackson and Prince in they prime,
We was just boys in the hood, barely committed a crime,
Franklin Township Schools stole our education and dime,
Progress paid for by black folks’ money and time,
How come white kids never got bussed to the hood?
Dreams deferred, we was never heard, they ignored the greater good,
Bussed 40 miles back and forth daily out to the country,
We was sleepy AND hungry two hours before lunch see?
Man I hated school, white kids had majority rule,
1 to 10 ratio, black to white, what could we do?
Second grade, I got played as the butt of a joke,
Recess on the playground, a white kid named Kyle spoke,
He said, “God gave hair to all people at the beginning of time,
Whites and Asians were first, but niggers was at the back of the line!
Lazy and late, yaw had to take what was left behind,
Trampled nappy dirty scraps left down on the ground,
They all pointed and laughed, turned my smile to a frown,
Tears flowed, went home, man, my stomach felt sick,
Asked my mom and dad to buy me a kit real quick,
To turn my naps into curls and take back my pride,
Went to school the next day with my head held high,
Product of integration, all we knew was bus lines,
On the Corner of 40th and College early morning most times,
The concrete so cracked, we always walked on the line,
But it was cool cuz mama’s back turned out just fine,
Winter days we was amazed at how our Jeri Curls froze,
6am spitting rhymes and perfecting our flows,
Where we had rhyme battles and occasional fist fights,
Under dawn lit street lights, but mostly we’d Joan,
On busters at the corner with the wrong ‘ish on,
So we’d be and home cleaning canvas white Nikes,
Putting Fat Laces in converse and British Knights,
It wasn’t too rough then, but who knew it could get worse?
The baddest gang in our terrain, man they name was the Smurfs!
We was born & raised on the northside of Naptown,
A block away from the Indianapolis State fairground,
Franklin Township teachers treated me like a scrub,
But my folks on the corner showed me nothing but love,
In time I grew into my prime and learned how to grind,
Slangin’ newspapers for a quarter, penny candy for a dime,
Shoveling sidewalks, mowing lawns, and raking leaves,
If you parked at outside the Fair you probably paid me some fees,
The corner helped make me, but it would also break g’s,
In the summer the city made the whole hood sneeze,
Trucks came often and sprayed clouds of pesticides,
Left a bitter taste in our mouth and stung and watered our eyes,
Poisonous air lingered for days, probably caused homicides,
Rich folks never got gas trucks, why am I not surprised?
No schools or parks, we had the only court for blocks,
So Curb Ball was invented on the corner by street jocks,
Two players facing each other on opposite sides of the street,
Throw a basketball (just right) to hit the other curb’s concrete,
To bounce the ball back to you – that’s one score,
Do the same thing when a car passed, and that’s four more,
Points, I hate to babble and tattle,
But on 4th of July’s, man we had us some epic battles,
Duos on Ten Speeds armed with sawed off U pipes,
Lighters and bottle rockets, shooting jokers riding side by side,
With age and hindsight that, was hella fun and dumb,
I once blocked a rocket, and it made my hand numb,
For two days, still amazed at all the stupid ‘ish that we done,
On the corner in the city where I’m from – Naptown.

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