Last Friday night, Sept. 28, 2018, Josephus Thomas III performed a number of his original spoken words at The Poetry Café located on the second floor of Triad Stage in downtown Greensboro. Josephus has been performing his original spoken word pieces at The Poetry Café for over 10 years, and his experience is shown in his work.
The night was intimate with a comfortable audience willing to engage. The quiet room centered around Josephus as twinkling lights hanging from above illuminated the room. As a wide brick wall aligned the front of the room, Josephus stood front and center as audience members leaned in with anticipation to every word resounding from his mouth.
Josephus sat on a bench as he performed several pieces from his collection. One piece was an intimate story about a young child dying from drowning in a local creek in North Carolina. As he told the story of a seven-year-old sister jumping in a creek, you would initially think that the young girl was the victim who drowned. Her 11-year-old brother soon jumped in after. Neither of them could swim, yet her brother didn’t think twice to jump in and save her.
As Josephus told the story of the boy who lost his life by saving his sister, eyes widened, and the room became somber. Josephus paused at each break in a sentence as the audience took in the shocking death of a child through the art of spoken word.
Josephus related the bravery of that young boy to how men treat black women in today’s society by saying, “it is one thing to have sex with a black woman, but it is another to save her.” Josephus says, “We’ve all seen things happen to sisters in public…is it none of our business…do we not speak up?” He alluded to the thought-provoking idea that black women were desired or even lusted after but not protected when protection is needed most.
He continued saying, “at what point did it stop becoming second nature that we stopped saving our black women?” The room became tense. Although the environment was free for anyone to speak, no one said a word. Josephus ended his speech with one quote saying, “never be afraid to jump in and save the ones you love even if you don’t know how to swim.”
Josephus performed a number of his original pieces, but one in particular truly stood out. As he continued to stand on the stage clothed in a black shirt with a red print of the continent of Africa, he touches his ring finger as he says, “I saved a man’s life today…and then he dies…I can still see his ring finger.”
As Josephus traveled with a group of young adults, they stumbled upon a family entangled in the twist of the road and trapped within the metal of their vehicle. The group rescued the family from the imprisonment of their wrecked car to find their work was in vain. A passionate fight was given to save their lives and Josephus paused to ask the baffling question of the night,
“If you can see the future and you know you are going to fail, do you still try?” The intimate crowd discussed amongst themselves and mutually agreed to the task, although ending in grief, was worth it. Josephus recalled the lifeless body lying on the ground and recited an ending quote saying, “if you don’t try something beyond yourself, you’ll never grow beyond yourself right now.”
Josephus continued speaking from the heart, as he recited pieces from the broken memories of his life along with the joyous moments. Recounting witnessing death and the excitement of his first-born daughter, Josephus left an imprint on the minds of each listener.
Words bounced from one wall to the next as his passion painted the evening sky. A night filled with meaningful words that pierced your soul was a night well spent. If you’re looking for a break away from the wild, weekend nightlife and can handle more mature and thought-provoking content, consider joining Josephus Thomas III at Triad Stage. The Poetry Café awaits you.