For Ferguson

J. Harris–For Black Men

This is for Black men, for Black men like me.
For Black men who like women, for Black men who like men, for Black men who like both, and
      for Black men who prefer neither, for Black men like me.
This is for Black men who are like blue cranes.
Blue cranes are known for feeling insecure in their relationships—both male and female.
This is for Black men, like me, who haven’t had the opportunity to observe another Black man in
      a healthy relationship; a relationship where a Black man can express his love, his
      affection, his anger, his frustration, or his sentiment in a healthy manner.
Because blue cranes often feel insecure in their relationships, they are constantly reaffirming
     their commitment.
This is for Black men who have learned what commitment means: to give in trust or charge; to
      pledge himself; to bind, to obligate, to entrust.
This is for Black men who have not learned what commitment means: to abstain; to fail; to miss;
      to neglect.
This is for Black men who are imperfect, for Black men constantly reaffirming their
      commitment, their sexuality, their masculinity; for Black men who are afraid to step
outside of the manbox.
This is for Black men who cannot commit because we were never taught to, or how to commit
      for you cannot know what you do not know until you know.
The mass of us take after the Black men who came before us—Black men who found pleasure in
      roaming, in maneuvering themselves in and out of another person’s life or bedroom.
This is for Black men who produce poetry, who sings saintly, who paints perfectly, who shoots
      surely, who dances divinely, who creates craftily, who touches tenderly, who walks
      willfully.
This is for Black men in shape, for Black men out of shape; for Black men with college degrees
and higher, with college degrees and lower.
This is for Black men who have made mistakes, who have refined their dignity, character, and
      grace after failing.
This is for Black men. This is for Black men. Again, this is for Black men.
This is a you matter for Black men; a love letter, a poem, a song, a dance, a painting, a drawing,
      a photograph for Black men; a tune for Black men to dance and embody their carefree
      spirit to. This is a ballad of substance and importance for Black men. This is for Black
      men who are as delicate as a female blue crane, as our Queenly sisters; for Black men
      who are soft-hearted, hard-bodied, with eyelids that open and close at the sight of
      something pleasing: another Black man, the moon rising, the sun setting, a kitten
      crawling across snow-capped pavement.
This is for Black men who understand that the night is and is not for intimacy.
This is for Black men who understand that safety is found in numbers.
This is for Black men who keep going in the face of hardship and criticism.
This is for Black men who have accepted, embraced, and forgiven themselves.
This is for Black men who, like me, congregate ankle-deep in a body of water underneath a royal
      blue sky with other Black men.
J. Harris is a 23 year old writer from Charleston, West Virginia (where he was born and raised). He earned his Bachelor’s degree in English in 2014 and is now pursuing his Master’s degree in Early Childhood Education in Cleveland, Ohio (where he currently lives and works full-time). He has had work published in art Cetera Literary Journal (Marshall University’s literary magazine) and recently won a haiku competition where the reward was 2 books given from the sponsors. He is currently editing and revising a collection of poems that he intends to self-publish by the end of summer of 2015.