David Amongst Us (for Ruby Dee)

Posted on February 13, 2015

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I had the distinct honor of reading this commissioned piece for the DC Commission of the Arts screening of “Life’s Essentials with Ruby Dee”.  I hope you are inspired by it:

Before King David wore his crown
before he ever used a slingshot to knock Goliath down
the reason King Saul kept this young man around
because his hands on the harp made a beautiful sound
dee-obHe was musician
an artist
a real life alchemist
and a real life warrior
art in action

For centuries artists have reminded us
who we are and what we are fighting for
there is a time and place
where we need the artist
who will carve stones
and throw them as well
now is that time

We need a spoken word
we need love as an ember,
fanned by simile
stoked with iambic pentameter

I imagine David was the harpist equivalent of Fela
Malcolm X multiplied by James Brown divided by Nigeria
conducting the royal court like his orchestra
vamping around raw honest truths
David would’ve have been talking mad ish about the Philistines

We don’t need ancestry.com
to know that David is in Ruby Dee’s DNA
She has collected her own book of Psalms
giving the world exposure to our realities
ushered us from black & white
to techni-color
both armor bearer and muse to Kings
marching with them into battle
maturing to become royalty themselves

We need a song from you
peace as a soaring lyric
with melody for feathers
layered over a rhythm as wings

Mahalia Jackson would have been a great David
telling the King to share his dream
so it might live among us as a living, breathing thing
nothing soothes the soul, like a song from god
reminding you why you are here

Tupac came back as one of David’s latest reincarnations
some people can sing about fighting Goliath
fewer will pick up a stone and throw one at him
very few will do both
it takes an honesty of character,
that can only be proven by monumental flaws
Tupac and David were thug life

We need a soul stirring soliloquy
the stage is set with patience
justice will make a cameo in the finale
truth narrates

Maybe young David was more Robeson
These brothers were horrified
that their brothers in arms
would let a Goliath of a monster
make threats that went unchallenged
both would die fighting to repel any foe
with every fiber of their being
and ounce of pure talent

Nothing stirs the soul like art
it’s why Baptist ministers preach with rhythm
good writing is the moon that raises the tides of change
that’s why Baldwin’s books get banned in schools
it’s why artists become warriors and lead nations
art and action
art in action
David is amongst us