Notes on Literature: Poems That Have Turned My Head #33

Posted by Michael Borshuk On 9:29 PM

National Poetry Month, Day 30.

The Message

It's like a jungle sometimes, it makes me wonder
How I keep from going under
It's like a jungle sometimes, it makes me wonder
How I keep from going under

Broken glass everywhere
People pissing on the stairs, you know they just don't care
I can't take the smell, can't take the noise
Got no money to move out, I guess, I got no choice
Rats in the front room, roaches in the back
Junkies in the alley with a baseball bat
I tried to get away, but I couldn't get far
Cause the man with the tow-truck repossessed my car

Don't push me,
cause I'm close to the edge
I'm trying
not to lose my head

It's like a jungle sometimes, it makes me wonder
How I keep from going under

Standing on the front stoop, hangin out the window
Watching all the cars go by, roaring as the breezes blow
A crazy lady, livin in a bag
Eating out of garbage piles, used to be a fag-hag
Said, she danced the tango, skipped the light fandango
Was circon princess, seemed to lost her senses
Down at the peepshow, watching all the creeps
So she can tell the stories to the girls back home
She went to the city and got Social Security
She had to get a pimp, she couldn't make it on her own

Don't push me,
cause I'm close to the edge
I'm trying
not to lose my head

It's like a jungle sometimes, it makes me wonder
How I keep from going under
It's like a jungle sometimes, it makes me wonder
How I keep from going under

My brothers doin' bad, stole my mothers t.v.
Says, she watches to much, is just not healthy
"All my children" in the daytime, "Dallas" at night
Can't even see the game or the Sugar Ray fight
The bill collectors, they ring my phone
And scare my wife, when I'm not home
Got a bum education, double-digit inflation
Can't take the train to the job, there's a strike at the station
Neon king kong standin' on my back
Can't stop to turn around, broke my sacroiliac
A midrange migraine, cancered membrane
Sometimes I think I'm going insane, I swear I might hijack a plane!

Don't push me,
cause I'm close to the edge
I'm trying
not to lose my head

It's like a jungle sometimes, it makes me wonder
How I keep from going under
It's like a jungle sometimes, it makes me wonder
How I keep from going under

My son said, "daddy, I don't wanna go to school
Cause the teacher's a jerk, he must think, I'm a fool
And all the kids smoke reefer, I think it'd be cheaper
If I just got a job, learned to be a street sweeper
I dance to the beat, shuffle my feet
Wear a shirt and tie and run with the creeps"
Cause it's all about money, ain't a damn thing funny
You got to have a con in this land of milk and honey
They pushed that girl in front of the train
Took her to the doctor, sewed the arm on again
Stabbed that man right in his heart
Gave him a transplant for a brand new start
I can't walk through the park, cause it's crazy after the dark
Keep my hand on the gun, cause they got me on the run
I feel like an outlaw, broke my last glass jaw
Hear them say you want some more, livin on a seesaw

Don't push me,
cause I'm close to the edge
I'm trying
not to lose my head

It's like a jungle sometimes, it makes me wonder
How I keep from going under
It's like a jungle sometimes, it makes me wonder
How I keep from going under
It's like a jungle sometimes, it makes me wonder
How I keep from going under
It's like a jungle sometimes, it makes me wonder
How I keep from going under

A child is born, with no state of mind
Blind to the ways of mankind
God is smiling on you, but he's frowning too
Because only God knows, what you go through
You grow in the ghetto, living second rate
And your eyes will sing a song of deep hate
The place, that you play and where you stay
Looks like one great big alley way
You'll admire all the number book takers
Thugs, pimps and pushers and the big money makers
Driving big cars, spending twenties and tens
And you wanna grow up to be just like them
Smugglers, scramblers, burglars, gamblers
Pickpockets, peddlers and even pan-handlers
You say I'm cool, I'm no fool
But then you wind up dropping out of high school
Now you're unemployed, all null 'n void
Walking 'round like you're pretty boy floyd
Turned stickup kid, look what you done did
Got send up for a eight year bid
Now your manhood is took and you're a may tag
Spend the next two years as an undercover fag
Being used and abused and served like hell
Till one day you was found hung dead in a cell
It was plain to see that your life was lost
You was cold and your body swung back and forth
But now your eyes sing the sad sad song
Of how you lived so fast and died so young

So, don't push me,
cause I'm close to the edge
I'm trying
not to lose my head

It's like a jungle sometimes, it makes me wonder
How I keep from going under
It's like a jungle sometimes, it makes me wonder
How I keep from going under


--Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five
(composed by Duke Bootee and Melle Mel)

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MICHAEL BORSHUK is Associate Professor of African American Literature at Texas Tech University. He is the author of SWINGING THE VERNACULAR: JAZZ AND AFRICAN AMERICAN MODERNIST LITERATURE (Routledge, 2006), and numerous essays, reviews, and encyclopedia entries on African American literature, American modernism, and music. For ten years, from 1999 to 2009, he wrote on jazz regularly for CODA MAGAZINE. His fiction has appeared in ANTIGONISH REVIEW, DALHOUSIE REVIEW, ELYSIAN FIELDS QUARTERLY, SHORT STORY, and 34TH PARALLEL.

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