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'This Thing Called Life'

Poetry Inspired by the
Music and Spirit of Prince

Prince Rogers Nelson


Hakim Bellamy

About the Poet

Hakim Bellamy is a journalist, community organizer, Hip Hop generation father, and music addict.

He was the inaugural Poet Laureate of Albuquerque, and is a Fellow of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

Find him at

Spring 2017 »

The Man Who Would Be King
(for Prince)

by Hakim Bellamy

High-heeled shoes were originally worn by men. As early as the 10th century, many horseback-riding cultures wore heels on their boots and on their shoes, because heels help you stay in the stirrups (which, consequently, is why cowboy boots have heels too). Heels were seen as an expression of power and privilege reserved for male royalty, and only later were they co-opted by women, in the 17th and 18th centuries.

We all knew him
as an adult
possessed by music

But as a child
He was obsessed
with the old Hollywood Studio system.

He studied the tape,
the heads of these studio houses
and all their movies
from the 30s and 40s.

If you are in your 30s
and 40s

you recollect Under the Cherry Moon
you recall the first night you ever noticed
the rain bruise a certain hue…

and wondered
for a fraction of a second
if that precipitation
was nothing more than the excessive perspiration
of a strange colored fruit.

You remember him giving his name back
like Kunta
because the studio heads
said they owned that too.

Even though his birth certificate
swore he was born
the son of a king.

They should have seen him coming,
Grandchild of Louisiana
Son of band fling turned matrimony
Godson of James Brown
Descendant of LaBelle and Parliament Funkadelics
Offspring of the group thing…

Married, only to the game.

I tried to told ya,
he studied the tape.
“Produced, arranged,
composed, and performed” by him

Slave only to his music,
not his masters…
so he owned them too.

Said, “I’m gon’ go’head and get me one of them there plantations.”
Called it Paisley Park.
Fought the industry overlords for his emancipation paper
and won.

Showed his whole entire ass
to the entire music world on TV
..............on purpose
.......................and principle.

In the name of Jimmy Scott, he did.
In the name of Bo Diddley, he did.
In the name of Charles Mingus, he did.
In the name of dead, Black musicians’
stolen dollars
and stolen songs.

As though his very name
means “royalties.”

In a perfect world,
a different world,
not the one where his self-titled debut album
comes out the selfsame year I was born…

A better world.
A world in which
Mortal Kombat
would be a video game, about dancing,
and you could cosplay
a battle between Michael Jackson
and Prince.

Some sort of 8-bit 80s adolescent
wet dream-wich of fantasy…

where I get teleported back, like 1982,
to a moment in time

when the two most famous people on the planet
were Black
....................... Gods.

Gods that dressed, spoke and/or looked like women.
Black Folk, so surprisingly proud of these post-gender geniuses
that Mom and Dad scarcely flinched
when I confessed that I too wanted to be a symbol
when I grow up.

In his perfect world
where the girls
get all the drumsticks,
and the color purple
exists somewhere between pink
and blue.

Where if queer were a color
it’d be…leather.
It’d be black,
and sexy
is whatever the funk
you want it to be…

A world in which we are all
at least 5’6”
in heels.


Hakim Bellamy ~




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