Gil Scott-Heron was a poet in touch with the madness of the world and the sanity of the truth. I was fortunate to have known Gil, who we called €œSpiderman,€ when he was a student and I was a young professor and associate vice president for development at Lincoln University (PA). I read the early draft of his first novel, €œThe Vultures,€ and critiqued it for him. Subsequently, I had many social encounters with Gil while working on my Ph.D. I knew he was destined to make a mark in life. He was creative, self-directed, irreverent, irascible, pushy, and forceful €“ qualities that helped make him successful.

In my soon to be published memoir, WordSong Poets, I paid tribute to  extraordinary poets I have known personally – Langston Hughes, Larry Neal, Ron Welburn, Everett Hoagland, Keorapetse William Kgositsile, and Gil Scott-Heron. For each of these men I wrote a tribute poem. €œHe didn′t belong here€ was the tribute poem written for Gil Scott-Heron.


He didn′t belong here
For Gil Scott-Heron


He didn′t belong here.

He never did.

He could run/move/manipulate



He wasn′t supposed to last,

But he did.

He didn′t live.

He couldn′t live.

He was from mindspace –

Not where angels pose in celestial ages,

But where consciousness rages.

There was not enough


For the hard truth

It takes to make a new world,

Hitchhiking through tragic spheres,

While riding the bus in New York,

Dozing mindfully in the local park,

He wasn′t suppose to last.

He didn′t have a plan.

His mortality

Was set

Days numbered, yet,

We can only hope

There were times, moments

Days, minutes,

When he lived,

Breathed well,

Loved being here.

Ahead of time,

Ahead of himself,

It wasn′t all Hell.

I saw him cussing/running/seeing/climbing,

Staying awake from the night/the day.

He wasn′t supposed to speak.

He couldn′t speak,

But Time herself is weak.

He wasn′t supposed to sing.

He was song

Born to see.

He wasn′t supposed to last

Too long.

He was witnessing too wisely

To be held,

To be slapped,

To be shared

To be held.

He wasn′t supposed to last.

He was a student of darkness/lightness/unclear place.

He wasn′t supposed to live here.

He lives.

Yeah, the brother/father lives

In sacred innerspace.


© 2010 by Ja A. Jahannes. From WordSong Poets. All rights reserved.

Image Courtesy: