“Anyone who has ever struggled with poverty knows how extremely expensive it is to be poor.”
– James Baldwin (Fifth Avenue, Uptown. Esquire)
Life has loveliness to sell,
All beautiful and splendid things,
Blue waves whitened on a cliff,
Soaring fire that sways and sings,
And children’s faces looking up
Holding wonder in a cup.
Life has loveliness to sell,
Music like a curve of gold,
Scent of pine trees in the rain,
Eyes that love you, arms that hold,
And for your spirit’s still delight,
Holy thoughts that star the night.
Spend all you have for loveliness,
Buy it and never count the cost;
For one white singing hour of peace
Count many a year of strife well lost,
And for a breath of ecstasy
Give all you have been, or could be.
It was in the early 90’s when the image of clowns changed for me. Not that I was much of a fan anyway, but one event made it that much more clear that clowns were creepy little creatures; cowards who hated themselves so much that they hid behind make-up. What grown man or woman wants to bounce around with a red nose? And why do you look like that? Anyway, something was going around the projects about a serial killer dressed as a clown who went around kidnapping children. At the time I was only about seven years old and I can remember being released from school early. Everyone had to have someone to pick them up from school and walk them to their building. While there was no adult to pick me up, being a twin always had its perks; it’s called having a lot of friends. So a large group of us walked home together. I even had a weapon, a super sharp pencil that was prepared to slice and dice the first orange or red Afro I saw coming. It didn’t occur to me that the pencil could break. And how would I sharpen it again? Nope, never crossed my mind, nor did my second grade education prepare me for such an event. I suppose I could just pencil stab him to death, not sure how that would work. Maybe he’ll get lead poison or something, who knows.
According to the rumor, the killer targeted children by standing next to mailboxes and eating bananas. I’m not sure why he would be eating bananas; an obvious indication that someone had probably just watched Stephen Kings IT and made the whole thing up. But that didn’t stop us from believing it. As we walked passed the first mailbox, our hearts caught in our throat, trying to walk as silently as childhood footsteps would allow. In the end we would make it home safe and sound. But when I went to sleep that night there he was, that ugly looking clown. I was looking out the window of Chicago’s Robert Taylor Homes to the building next door where someone else was also looking out the window. Yea you guessed it: the clown. He smiled until his cheeks almost reached his ears and his teeth looked as if he had painted them yellow. Suddenly however, he ran away from the window. “Oh no! He’s coming over!” Before I knew it a clown was in my living room chasing me around the couch. Even though it was just a dream this was a very serious situation. Yea, looks like someone would definitely not be invited to the next birthday party.