Home » Poetry » A HEATHEN SPEAKS ON GODS & ANCESTORS (a poem for my uncle, Dr. Don Quinn Kelley)

A HEATHEN SPEAKS ON GODS & ANCESTORS (a poem for my uncle, Dr. Don Quinn Kelley)

Esu Legba is posted by the front door
Welcoming guests to this sacred space… home.

Home to Mama Africa by way of Spanish Harlem

We manifest Africanisms with every Flash of the Spirit.

It is the spirit of our ancestors that drives us forward-

In spite of systemic racism,

In spite of historic economic disparities,

And in spite of our stoic mean-mugging faces

Our ancestors are still smiling

Smiling at the inside joke we play on our oppressors… our survival.

Our gods and ancestors have been our saving graces

They have helped us through our dark passages in the bowels of slave ships

They provided spiritual salves to soothe our backs ripped open by bullwhips

They marched along side us as we sang, “We shall overcome” and chanted “Black Lives Matter”

They gave us hope in all those work songs and “ole negro spirituals”

and they provided us order amidst chaos through their rites and rituals

in a world of certain uncertainty prayer and faith make sense

or at the very least provide context to help us make sense out of nonsense.
Nonsense leads us down a frankincense and myrrh scented path to spiritual chauvinism

Fueled by our myopic and misguided ignorance of our neighbors, our brothers, our sisters, our sons, our daughters, our mothers, our fathers, our ancestors-

And in many cases, ignorance of our own sacred texts.
The “truth” (for lack of a better term) on gods and ancestors

Is often lost in translations, or misrepresented by false prophets

Seeking to make a profit off of others’ fears of the great unknown… the after-life.

My Uncle Don Quinn once told me that in some African traditions,

“We don’t lose our loved ones. We gain ancestors.”

My friend and ancestor Bobo Brown wrote how our ability to “flow like the H2O”

Allows us to truly transcend the religious differences that often divide us-

Which ultimately leads us to both our humanity and the divine.
Yes, indeed, since antiquity, our gods and ancestors have been our saving graces.

Well, speaking as a devout heathen, 

“heathen” being “one who subscribes to no organized religion”

Notwithstanding my attraction to the irreverent, the term best suits how I spiritually roll.

I have found that organized religions often hide behind the concept of “faith.”

More importantly, I have also found golden nuggets of truth and beauty in most (if not all) of them-
But if backed into a corner and pressed for an answer

The closest thing I can muster to call

The tenets of my faith, or my “holy trinity”

are the words I leave you with

“Peace, Love and Safe Passage”

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