For Chris’ Sake: A Poem by Richard Tropp

N-1-B-34a – 34b

Dec. 11, 1977


We still don’t know why the hell you went down
But I doubt now if it makes that much difference.

You were created by the System;
You were destroyed by the System.
Your anger, your rebellion,
The dope and dealing,
The hustles, street fights, the bars

Your intensity
Your desire for justice

What can we say of that?
How can we understand it?
You recognized in Jim Jones a Man of Justice
But you couldn’t keep out of trouble.
You were full of an uncontrollable anger, system-bred;

A tough man
A man of violence
Black man
Whose fury, explosiveness, and misdirection
Was created by oppression;
A man of the streets
A man of the ghetto
A young man, genius thwarted
By drugs and outrage.
A child of Amerikkka that has failed its children;
A betrayed manchild seeking for justice.

And in terms of black people who will not, never not ever compromise with the System that has brutalized, enslaved, condemned, and exploited them, the System that has been shot into our veins with filthy needles,
There is no justice without a god damn rifle barrel of vengeance!

We forgive you, Chris
For your violence. It was
Understandable, practically
Honorable. Who could condemn you for being mad?

You never sold out to the System.
You fought it with the meager, horribly inadequate weapons
They put at your disposal
Weapons that were ironic tools of
Self-destruction! planted in your powerful hands
And the hands of millions of our brothers and sisters around the world
By your enemies!
(They are our enemies, too, Chris)
Enemies of the People!

We forgive you, Comrade Chris,
We forgive you for all your rebellion, your
Crazynigger rebellion, your anger
That broke through the dam of your better judgment.
We honor your clear outrage that kept you hating the system
Just as we honor you for recognizing in the Leader, who
You only imperfectly followed (like the rest of us) –
The Father-Liberator who could heal the terminal wounds
Made by Amerikkka’s long, twisted knives of death.

You died in the ghetto, the ghetto
that you never could change to find your way out of
The ghetto that has claimed the best of our black manhood
The poisonous Auschwitz of urban America,

Blotched all over the land like a blight,
A pestilence of liquor stores, squalid churches,
The stinking refuse of a dream that began in a nightmare.

You had the ghetto in your blood
The streets in your bones.

You know your Leader loved you, Chris, even though you were
A man who couldn’t sustain the structure of revolution,
He loved you through your madness because
He knew that the White Man made you mad.

He loved you
Though he told you that
Your privates, frustrated ghetto-guerrilla war
Against the system
Was a revolution of mere anarchy.
Yet you knew your Dad,
You love the People’s Liberator
The only way you knew how,
And we honor you for recognizing him,
for the way you were sweet and kind to senior citizens
For your gleaming, manipulative little-boy wonderful smile;
You are our brother.

The turbulent, violence long night of your life is now over.
You have finally found
An enviable peace.
But the outrage that you couldn’t contain, couldn’t restrain –
That outrage
Is smoldering still in our hearts, black brother,
As it smolders in the streets of San Francisco,
In the alleys of Soweto
Wherever the seeds of revolution are being sown
By the oppressor.

We are grateful tonight that we have,
As our Leader, Chris, and yours,
The One who can temper that monstrous outrage, who can
Channel it, directed, heighten it, gather and refine it,
Into the Pure Flame of REVOLUTION.

Let our anger been touched by the refining fire of JIM JONES.
And let us, in reflecting on the death of a terminal man
Who was born into violence, and who was stalked by it,
And swallowed up by it,
Redeem our own outrage.

And let us be rededicated, as revolutionaries
Under our Leader, our Protector
Our Champion, our Liberator – JIM JONES

Dick Tropp

Originally posted on March 22nd, 2022.

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