Literary Edition: 4th & Butternut

4th and Butternut
by Charisse Williams

I showed up at 6:30 to work on the new space
and no one was there.
I always seem to end up at the wrong place at the wrong time.
Passed Fabio at the Metro as he was leaving
after waiting for 40 minutes.
As I sat waiting, I watched the people walk by
in shades of brown
I listened to the hum, rattle, screeches
of the buses as they passed and the
click clack click clack click clack
of the trains over the tracks
and the weeoo weeoo of the car alarms
and the Go-Go pumping from Jeep stereos.
I saw brothas exchange ‘what’s up, man?’
and handshakes in the park across the street
In fact, I can barely write this poem
for all the ‘how you doin’ today’s
from men who try real hard
to look me in the eye when they greet me
even though my skirt is way too short
for me to be sittin’ on this here stoop.
Sistas in suits
brothas in bowties
people pacing back and forth on cell phones
Ladies in Lexuses
winos with run over shoes
the stale stench of alcohol and summer funk.
I feel the rhythm and pulse
of this urban landscape with country warmth
in this community rich with culture
rife with contradiction.
I feel calm…
As I get up to leave I smile
as I look back
that the space will be there
and the next day
and the next.
FICA will be right at home here.
This poem, by the extraordinary mandingueira and singer Charisse Williams, was published in the first issue of FICA's literary magazine, Caxixi. It was written when FICA-DC moved into its first permanent space, at 4th and Butternut Streets in the Takoma Park neighborhood. She really captures well the energy of people and shops that inhabited that small square of the earth.

We have since moved on, but that space in Takoma -- always too hot in the summer and way too cold in the winter, lodged between the Jamaican market and the barbershop-- holds a lot of great memories, including conference rodas, visits from capoeiristas from all over the world, countless barbeques, parties, discussions, dance classes, poetry readings, and more. Tempo bom, tempo bom...

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