Thursday, April 10, 2014

Jake and Jerome


Photo of Rosenwald building provided by Wikipedia

Jake and Jerome


Late night run, hustling for the midnight security

New guy Jerome be actin like he new to the facility

Big Jake coachin him up to the best of his ability

For their snacks I range in exchange for some change


I dap ‘em up and break sight, in for the night and sleep tight

Secure in their fate to guard the gate till the early light

Knowing the housing projects hide death in any corner

Some thug pushed his way in and let loose with a burner


Big Jake caught complacent, no time to react

Jerome behind ballistic glass, helpless to the fact

Two shots from the sadistic ass to Jake’s dome sent him home

Assailant never found on the building grounds; he still roams


These streets got Jerome shook beyond his abilities

Two weeks later, pulled me aside and confides in me

His hands won’t stop shakin, he close his eyes and sees Jake

With his counselors, he fakin, tryin to keep employed and stay awake


I’m just a high school kid; don’t know shit I must confess

No way of pulling the lid off of post-traumatic stress

Our way of life was post-traumatic, full of automatic echoes

I just told the man “One love,” gave him a hug, and then I let go


That was the last time I saw him of late, before I heard about the shit

That night Jerome had to interrogate in a back hall badly lit

He drew and dumped slugs into some kid with a water gun

The shit you see on TV ain’t as fun when it’s another son


I don’t know if Jerome lost his job, took his life, or got arrested

I wish I could’ve done more to help his pain when he was tested

Circumstances took him down and he could never rise above

Life pushed and he shoved and it all came undone, but one love.



Many of my poems are inspired partly by my own experiences, and partly through empathy for others. But this one recounts actual events that occurred in Chicago’s housing projects I lived in back in 89-91. I hadn’t thought about it in quite some time, but Nas’ “One Love” song from his Illmatic album always reminded me of this part of my childhood, even though Illmatic wasn’t released until 1994 (TWENTY YEARS! HOLY SHIT!)

The names have been changed because I don’t remember the security guards’ actual names. This event marked the first time that someone I knew perished violently, and it also marked the first time that someone I knew took a life. Sadly, there would be others.

I wrote this with the rhythm of Nas’ One Love song in my head. For the purposes of dVerse’s prompt, let’s just call this my One Love poetic form. Go here for other original poetic forms.


  1. A very heavy poem...written with obvious passion. I simply can't imagine what you would have gone through. Powerful poetry.

  2. When I Was Reading This Poem I Thought It Felt Like A Ballad. I'm Sad That It's A True Story, But You Have Written A Hell Of A Poem.

  3. I can certainly feel the rhythm of that song coming through your poem, as well as the indignation and sadness.

  4. def got the rhythm...and before i read the note was going to say it had a nice hip hop feel to it....i have songs like that as well...that remind me of time and def pack the feel as well in this...

  5. I could feel the depth in this poem. A realness that can only be written by living through it! Strong stuff.

  6. What a sad story.. and the beat so apparent in your words.. almost wish I could hear you read it...

  7. the truth in these words gives them their power - this was like a painting - in bold strokes - nice

  8. I think it takes a real talent to plug in words to music - some people are good and some are better - you are better. However having said that this is quatrains built with two rhymed couplets and free moving meter, the beat is sound as it was in the song and you hit each line with the emphasis needed resulting in a powerful and emotional poem. Not quite an answer to the prompt, but a singular poetic achievement nonetheless. Thanks.

  9. The rap beat is maintained right throughout your poem.Bold and brash.
    Your autobiographical info makes the poem more meaningful as well.It is good to know a poet emerged from that dark time!

  10. wow...that is one intense memory. I couldn't even begin to imagine experiencing such an event. this had a flow to it.