Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Book Review: 'Slightly Noble' by Lilly Gayle

Actor/photographer/writer/poet Cassius Ali's biographical information adds to his own statement that this book of poetry, simply named BLACK POET, is `one man's expression of the hurt, anger and joy of living in the world as a black person today while reflecting on yesterday.' At the end of this compelling collection of poems Cassius offers the following: `As one of nine children in a single parent home, Cassius experienced financial hardships that lead to shyness and a habit of imagining a better world. Experiencing bullying very early in life has taught Cassius to believe in himself. Writing has been a vehicle of escape and release for Cassius that he shares with the world in his poems and stories. After the early loss of his Father, Cassius became a photographer and actor. "Expression" to Cassius, is a metaphor for "the light at the end of the tunnel". Author/ Actor Cassius Ali has written three poetry books - `The Last Word', `Poetic Expression', and `Black Poet' as well as the autobiographic novel `A Bully Story'.

And that is all we need to know about the very handsome man on the cover of this book of poetry. All else he tells us in the course of his poems, written in rhyming form with a spectrum that matches what he has informed us of his background coupled with what we are all observing in the terrifying repetition of racial injustices that seem more frequent with each year. But his poems say more than a reviewer's comments.
After weak family ties,
laws written to support lies.
I found myself on the street.
No money
you'll almost do anything to eat.
Friends have forgotten my name.
When you fall asleep
your belonging
are anyone's to claim.
Police threaten and yell.
I was tormented
like I was in hell.
Trust becomes a fairytale.
I start thinking
I only have a soul to sell.
Faith became a life line.
When you don't have your own
People don't treat you very kind.
I remembered who I was
never willing to give in.
I held out for a miracle
in this world of sin.

Filled with expression and passion
The black poet
Suffered pain and loss,
hurting inside
In case you didn't know it
The Black Poet
Unfairly judged
treated unkind
Made to feel less than
You put it out of your mind
The Black Poet
They tried to stop you by the roots
Tempting you with violence by spiting
on your boots
The Black Poet
You didn't look away
when love faded from your heart
You wanted it to end
but afraid to part
The Black Poet
Go now share your vision
Remember how this ends,
won't be your decision.
The Black poet
Believe all life has purpose
Light a candle for the lost.
Hate and Temptation comes with a price
you won't be able to live with the cost
The Black Poet

Many lives has been lost in the pursuit of freedom. A countless number came here for a better life but we can't say that about everyone. Some had to protest and picket. No more, serving the wicked. It's been a long ride on the underground rail road, I prayed for a ticket. Forced to watch loved ones sold away. Beaten and abused if I had anything to say. A colored man was made to spread his seed. Not doing what you're told was a cause to bleed. It was against the law for my mind to feed. What makes one color above another? With No monogamy, how do you know your brother? Are we really free in today's society? Not when any white man can freely slay me.

This is poetry we need to share, we need to internalize, to empathize, and in the final analysis to praise a troubadour who has the passion to speak out in hopes that the world will change. And it must. Cassius Ali is offering more than his gifts and his soul in these poems. He is offering the chance to open our eyes and change. Grady Harp, June 15

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.