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Back in my day,

Being from Philly meant that you were affiliated,

Being beaten in a street fight was the ultimate humiliation,

Fifty third and poplar, Lansdowne Avenue or fifty fifth and west,

Everyone was into proving whose crew was the best,

Parkside Avenue, fifty fifth and Master or the giant known as the Moon,

Gang member or not you had to defend your hood,

Pivot, catch him with a hook to the liver and a cross to the head,

Strike him down strike him down until one of you are figuratively dead,

There was a time in my youth when I didn't think I could be beaten,

Arrogance was the fuel that powered me,

Ego and false pride was the dish from which I fed,

Every street victory enlarged my reputation as well as my head,

No single individual ever gave me a street beating,

Bullets flying from car windows became a regular event that I didn't want to keep repeating,

Tombstones or steel bars became my daily future vision,

All I could see in front of me was the graveyard or prison,

I sparred a lot but never had a ring fight as an amateur or as an up and coming contender,

I volunteered for the Army as a patriotic pretender,

Unlike street fights where you could often get a fair one,

I soon learned that nothing about war is fair,

Ammo and arsenals, firefights, arson and murder would soon render...

Me bowed down before my Lord who is the most merciful the most tender,

I traded my lust for combat for a life of surrender,

Peace can be achieved when you bow down become prostrate and believe,

Five times a day bowing down with those who bow down bending the knee,


Habib Abu Lateef


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