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'This Thing Called Life'

Poetry Inspired by the
Music and Spirit of Prince

Prince Rogers Nelson


C. Liegh McInnis

About the Poet

C. Liegh McInnis is an English instructor at Jackson State University. He is the former editor/publisher of Black Magnolias Literary Journal, and is the author of eight books, including Brother Hollis: The Sankofa of a Movement Man in July 2016, four collections of poetry, one collection of short fiction (Scripts: Sketches and Tales of Urban Mississippi), and one work of literary criticism (The Lyrics of Prince: A Literary Look at a Creative, Musical Poet, Philosopher, and Storyteller.)

He is the former First Runner-Up of the Amiri Baraka/Sonia Sanchez Poetry Award. 

He has presented papers at conferences, such as the College Language Association and the Neo-Griot Conference.

McInnis's work has appeared in: The Southern Quarterly, Bum Rush the Page, Down to the Dark River: Anthology of Poems about the Mississippi River, Black Gold: Anthology of Black Poetry, Sable, New Delta Review, Black World Today, In Motion Magazine, MultiCultural Review, A Deeper Shade, New Laurel Review, ChickenBones, Oxford American, Journal of Ethnic American Literature, and Red Ochre Lit.

Read excerpts from The Lyrics of Prince at

Spring 2017 »

We Be Purple Hippies
(A Poem 4 His Royal Badness)
by C. Liegh McInnis


We be Purple Hippies
‘cause we smoke dreams laced with stainless steel integrity.
We wear midnight black creativity and
snow white fearlessness
wrapped around us like a pinstriped zoot suit.
We bang our heads on da One
to Chocolate ideas dat been dipped in liquid Funkadelic.

Money be dat AIDS
Always Introducing Death to our System.
So we do da splitz in a split second
whenever fishy smiles with greasy palms
try to slap us on our backs while pickin’ our pockets
of dat soul dat their soil is 2 barren 2 grow.

We be Purple Hippies
‘cause we ryde buses with two seats
dat swim on water rather than streets.
Yet, we understand that Noah’s Boat
didn’t have no Jim Crow seatin’ capacity.
So, we bypass frigid and fragmented fools
too frozen in the clutches of race
to punch dey freedom ticket in tyme.

We be paisley parkin’
‘cause whiteness may be da winnin’ number
to a lotto card of plastic dreams,
but dey be meltin’ under the rock-fire showers
of swirlin’ Truth da day dat da last pebble of sand
left their hour glass dat’s been empty longer
than their cloudy minds would allow them to realize.

So, if bloody justice in a Resurrection blue sky give birth 2 royal,
then Revelations provided a prophecy of purple reign
long before a pimped out prophet in pumps played in yo’ ear hole.
But iron hearts rust too quickly
when they try to oil demselves with greenbacks
rather than soaking demselves with sugar cane and hugs.

We be Purple Hippies
‘cause we read da Word before He was ripped from da sky
and understand dat we be spiritual feet temporarily tap dancing
in Stacy Adams before the curtain for Act IV drop dem 1000 years on us.
Dat’s why we shine in Technicolor bliss dat pisses off peacocks.
We be playin’ in da sunshine not worryin’ ‘bout dem sign “o” the tymes
cause a dirty mind ain’t always nasty
like a revolution always gots to have
some spilled sons and daughters
for Margaret’s new Earth to finally become a Phoenix.
So let’s break da dam of liberation soon,
by makin’ love under a cherry moon.

We be Purple Hippies
‘cause we snort plum and peach possibilities
‘til our lungs are filled with raspberry freedom
so that we can baptize ourselves in waters
pregnant with nutrients fortified with
the Big Bang Beat of Da Most High gettin’ down on da One.

We be Purple Hippies
and be allergic to cliques, posses, sets, and crews
dat chew da life from freedom seekers
trying to mangle dem into mindless meshes of mass thinkers.
We have 89 flowers in our hearts rather than on our backs.
And that’s why we can
use our cotton pickin’ hands to hug Heaven into you
rather than choke the gold of life from you!!!

We be Purple Hippies,
and we be higher than your flat-top limitations,
‘cause keepin’ it real is mostly that mission statement of
a gate-keeper who waitin’ on someone to give him the keys.
But, we badder than a camel squeezing through the eye of a needle
as we got naked b4 it was fashionable
‘cause Heaven ain’t no place for spirit covered in
a man-made suit of lies…



This “Trip and ½” has been 4U by a dude named Prince with his sometimes Dirty Mind always causin’ much Controversy walkin’ toward da Dawn after the passin’ of 1999 when Purple Rain would flow us n2 a Parade dat marches us Around da World n a Day while we b checkin’ 4 dem Sign “O” the Times ‘cause we learned how to live LoveSexy; Now, he b one of dem Rainbow Children 2 b eternally “Free.”


To top

Black In...

Guitar strings pulled back,
releasing screams that stab the night.
[i] just wanna know
(Is there another face in the painted sky)?
‘Cause [i] just wanna show that
(only Truth can walk naked and untouched
through a room full of molesters.)
...................So dig!
Back Black a Nile River time ago
when the pale ones didn’t know (how to take the Funk),
tried to fake the Funk,
colonize the Funk,
just to be cheek to cheek to the Funk,
even tried to fornicate the Funk,
never realizing that all of the colors like patterns on a quilt
are stitched and surged by the Funk.
The thunder of its voice was calling
us to undress the lie of race.
This freak-a-fantastic fame
which major and minor chords coordinated
the orientation of colors—
finding that Truth in any color is always Black…
even anti-colored anthropologists will tell you so.

Well Black on, Brother Black, Black on…Thus,

the Black in the night is
the sheer shine in the light of white.
(Can you dig?)
[i] yam what [i] yam
‘cause [i] likes sweat potatoes with butter
and [i] won’t allow shame to erase me for doin’ so.
So-----shake your paintbrushes. Evolution’s calling!
Put on your sunglasses and bathe
in the sauna of bright Black.

As the little conductor in heels
crafted chords that illuminated just
how many building blocks the body has.
Yo’ mind and yo’ spirit are the batteries to your ass.
Tap, like a made-to-order hydrant, into the power of color,
funky faucets be pouring out liquid that we need,
causing crayolas to come together to create worlds.
Strokes of Black twirl inwardly draining,
discharging colors on the way down,
collapsing into technicolor hues of
sundry seasons, tie-dye cities, and mauve moments.
So you better grab a roller and let your ideas flow freely.

Pull all of the colors from the womb of Black
and smell the licorice of the night
speckled with bits of strawberry dust.
Take a lick of the apple-licious atmosphere.
Colors exploding like an overdue pregnancy
framed in the shimmering lines of
Black satin sheets draped over the Sun.
Rays of ebony gold sprinkle powdered sugar
into the awaiting mouths of your future.
God is the Funky Painter,
the human race His hieroglyphics,
the linguistic rainbow of His personal mosaic.

Funk is the air of our lungs.
Funk is the sway of our walk.
Funk is the melody of our booty.
Funk is the dip in our dap.
Funk is the hymn of our hearts.

Somebody brangs me a mirror so [i] can looks at my Funk.

Turn out the lights so that you can see better. Your soul has eyes that you’ve never used. It never needs sunshades. Calm the raging reds, greens, and blues and float out into a sea of paintashia. Feel the rayon hues blowing upon your emotions. You are a rocket ship shooting, Black raspberry of a race. Forever in His collage you are kept safe. Don’t let nobody take your paintbrush from you. Peace and Goodnight.




C. Liegh McInnis ~




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