the damn smell…

i am a back street poet
pied piper of little harlem
using my pen for a wood flute
calling out society’s rats
hoping to write their epitaph
     smell the burning rags
     endless odors of death
people blow their minds
over things they can’t define
so they light a fire or two
in hopes they might forget
     endless odors of the dead
     which creep into their souls
so they drink and waste all
relief line soldiers is their trade
passing my door – off to the camp
the camp of the great white father
      who gives them no hope
      to forget the damn smell
some fools say move away from here
but how
who’ll lend you the money
ain’t no one i know got one cent
so that ends that in a hurry
     but the smell, the damn smell
     it remains in the air
children playing barefoot in the streets
among the maze of broken bottles
laugh and cry and don’t know why
their lives seem different than yours
     but the smell, the damn smell
     lets them know all too soon
come walk with me to the grave
in which they’ve lain your city’s child
whose unmarked and small grave
is covered in weeds
     but there in peace is rest
     away from the smell
     the damn smell