BROOKLYN QUARTET

Cyd Charisse Fulton

This piece was written many moons ago.  Tragedy made me realize I cared about neighbors.  My struggle to maintain and raise my sons in a chaotic environment influenced my judgment.  I reached for a doorknob of blame to open salvation’s door.
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  1988. Bed-Stuy Brooklyn.  Marcy and Sumner Houses, bread. Tompkins projects, cheese.  Over 3000 residents squeeze in 8 buildings in excess of Myrtle, Park, Throop, and Tompkins Avenues.
  Hallway walls shine, but not floors. They streak sneaker marks from weed smokers and dice game players.  Blue metal exit doors squeak and slam; might be poh-leese, switch staircases -- scram.  Red elevators barely open.  Their steel bowels, constipated from brown blends of dried piss and an overload of tenants trying not to step in it.  Work, school, public assistance, daycare, and homecare, who cares?  In this haven of “peace god,” and “how you doin’ Miss B?” I raise three boys in apartment 12E.
  12E windows see both Bushwick bodegas and New York City high rises.  They scan tenements in Williamsburg where Jewish families landlord and reside.  These windows witness Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges perch the East River like London guards while all along the "Watchtower," Jehovah Witness real estate overlooks Brooklyn Bridge Park.
  My sons and I relish Tompkins’ ability to display tranquility during Saturday morning cereal. Denounce unemployed rages and gunshots.  Stages in my mind remain sane as I look for a reason, a season; blame.
  Dayjon.  24 year old street phenom, lives next door.  Fresh out of jail, he and his crew impale his non-English speaking mother’s authority with frailty.  Dayjon’s priorities are drugs, guns and “gettin some.”  Double parent in me warns him to stay away from my sons with that “come see me if ya need suntin” bullshit.  Nothing about his grin is legit.  Yet, I wish him freedom from historical degradation and his notorious reputation.
  Monday evening red elevator barely opens.  Stunned cop unsnaps gun.  Take it easy.  It’s just me.  12E is next door to apartment with floor of burgundy sea.  Cop question me, then tells me… lights out in exit.  Dayjon and a girl come home.  Key sticks lock.  Three guys from dark exit bum rush Dayjon.  Push him in apartment.  Girl runs to exit.  Pump shotgun penetrates back.  Lays her flat in staircase between 12th and 11th floors.  Dayjon, dead.  Bullet blasts off side of his head.  Burgundy sea Dayjon bled tells me, careful what you wish for.

Who is Cyd Charisse Fulton Today?

Cyd Charisse Fulton hails from Brooklyn, NY as a writer also founder and editor of Emphat!c Press. She is a graduate of New York University and has been nominated for the 2012 Pushcart Prize. Her work is featured in “Stand Our Ground,” “I Want My Poetry To…,” and “Dovetail” anthologies to name a few, as well as aaduna.org and Wordpeace electronic magazines. Her poems have also been featured in The 2015 People's State of the Union, Poetic Address to the Nation, The 2015 Gallatin School Arts Festival “Black Lives Matter,” the 2014 Washington, DC celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and more. Ms. Fulton curates writing workshops in such places as NYU Gallatin School and Hudson County Community College. She produced a poetry event for the 2014 Black Theater Network conference at the National Black Theater in Harlem. Her chapbooks “Feeding Off of the North Star” and “Emphatic Radical” are tools for social change. Websites: http://cydcharissepoems.com, www.emphaticpress.com

Background Information on the shooting...

I did not write the date on the piece when I wrote it. I moved shortly after the murders and wrote about my shame for being judgmental and then tucked it away. Upon researching Brooklyn Quartet, I was compelled to retrieve the document. It was so long ago, but I continue to feel shame . Circumstance and location dictated events. Note: I substituted names and date in the piece out of respect for the family. Also I lost track of time.  The Hudson Family are of Latin/African heritage with hearts of gold. “It takes a village…” and we were existing in the same village. They have long since moved from Tompkins Houses and we do not keep in touch. However, I and many others, such as Kenny Kings, Scott Johnson…continue to stay in the loop and share information of empowerment with the Tompkins Houses community. There is a Tompkins Houses Facebook page where events such as workshops, conferences, panel discussions and other announcements are shared. Media and city officials had the audacity to say the murder was a drug deal situation. Tawana who was also murdered was not one to ‘hangout.” She was a long time friend of Calvin’s (aka Rayson). His true girlfriend was expecting a child. 85 Tompkins Avenue is still a hotbed for violence and lost lives. All Lives Matter!

Links...

http://www.nytimes.com/1988/05/16/nyregion/couple-shot-to-death-in-a-brooklyn-project.html

https://www.facebook.com/tompkins.pjs?fref=ts

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