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Earl the Pearl

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Photo credit: Detroit News

Earl The Pearl

that smile…a warm greeting…in hell unimaginable
our first meeting…the pearl bore witness
a man refined & honed…polished & stoned…sauteed & seasoned
no longer free…cellblock one north….locked down on gallery three
in the jackson cage
that first day…flopping like a fish…on a dry river bank…a desperate wish
earl took pity…in a graceless place…mayor of jacktown city…the unlikeliest of neighbors
earl “the pearl” cross…took a liking to this sailor…was some kind of boss
established a safe ‘hood…where no one dared…to cross Cross
or mess with hurls
earl looked out…when good lookin’ was needed…down twenty five to life
after he pleaded…calling out for his wife…they called it murder…in the second degree
coming  home early…finding some punk…drove pearl squirrelly
it was way too much…seeing a guy…biblically knowing…the bride of his youth
in their wedding bed
rage growing…some guy in his wife…wrong or right…snatching his life…earl snapped…whipped out a heater…shot his ass…but would not beat her…got locked down…leaving behind…
two wounded sons
the hurls could relate…we had that in common…surviving as clowns…for a life mostly down
devoid of dignity and freedom…turn the page…no semblance of respect…it was a fight for survival
in the jackson cage
the pearl was mah’ nigga’…and I was his…his words not mine…so chill the fuck out
with your pc crimes…that can’t see past…the nose of your face…or a condescending finger
that has no place
in the jackson cage
a big smile missing teeth…under his  wing…with much love & respect…my chief
it ain’t no thang…black & white no barrier…but a chicken wang
what a team we made…confounding guards, nazis and muslims alike
earl would smile and say…”fuck those bitches today”…riffing off my NA way
earl got high….while avoiding that trap…he’d trade a carton of squares
for 100mgs of ms contin…with an offer to share…on the carrier known
as the jackson cage
we’d laugh so hard…while earl schemed…playing a card…to get over on the man
a 55 gallon spud juice can…cooking in his cell…belching putrid smells
defiant when busted…sent to the hole…came out and  trusted
to do it again
second time’s a charm…trading 8 ounce drinks…for a pack of squares
anything to stop the thinks
or ease the pain that living brings…grace was present…for the hurls to refrain…saving the brain
but it sure was tempting…no thoughts of condemnation
those who imbided…or partook of salvation…on a saturday night free-for-all
on gallery three…to remain sober and free…providing a soundtrack
kicking out the jams
getting over on the mans…a need to check out…
from the jackson cage
earl ran the numbers…the hurls would type…before learning it could result…in a major misconduct…rejecting all hype…a resignation tendered
for services rendered….in a place so vile
invoking yellow bile…shame, guilt & remorse in piles…where all we could do…at the end of a day
finding solace in the word…on our knees we prayed…tough guys fervantly calling
that’s how we rolled…earl funneled grace…to the face of my soul
heard him cry only once…a letter from his son…hit like a punch…a face drenched
memories of an unfaithful wench…still tears of remorse…he’d never see his boys again
“this ain’t no way for you to live hurls…tim & josh need you man…so get your ass out and stay out”
ok earl…good word my man
years after release…while cruising OTIS…a punch called deceased…crushed my heart
no more rage…entering into peace…hep c providing sweet release…no more sorrow…no more pain
God, I cried and cried…he was my brother & friend…with more faith, balls & class
than most guys i’ve known in church…with humor to last….a visual cast…sitting on the perch
of a gurgling drum of spud…obliterated by one bad choice…earl gave voice to soul murder
gosh he was funny…earl was my bud…a rock boss of bosses…with societal misdeeds
in spite of the losses…earl lived by a creed…foreign to most…his faith was so deep
it could keep…spirits revived…souls psychedelisized
most days earl would say…”You is a crazy muthafucka hurls”
while most might not argue…or dissent…for my 2 cents…earl was a saint
a force of life…locked in a room…with chipped paint…making the best
rising above the rest…officers made it a point…to take the time…for a dose of earl
and some pearl of grace…in that awful joint known as
the jackson cage
rest in peace my brother
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4 Comments

  1. Tim Hurley says:

    Reblogged this on hurlco and commented:

    Thanks to Black Lake Studio & Press for providing the inspiration to release this as originally intended.

  2. Rick says:

    Damn! What can I say about this truly gripping piece? Shared introspection. Raw. Deep. Emotional.

    What I won’t say about you writing free verse mixed with rhythm and rhyme is, ”Tim, I didn’t know you had it in you”… ‘cuz I’d be lyin’.

    Beautiful work.

  3. megan pool says:

    I don’t know if I read this before but wow- stunning Tim. So proud to know you.

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