Posts tagged poet.

Don’t let it be loneliness
that kills us.
If we must die
on the front line
let us die men
loved by both sexes.

Don’t let it be envy
that drives us
to suck our thumbs
or shoot each other dead
over snake eyes.

Let us not be dancing
with the wind
on heavy corners
tattered by doom.

Let us not accept
partial justice.
If we believe our lives
are priceless
we can’t be conquered.

If we must die
on the front line
don’t let loneliness
kill us.

essex hemphill, heavy corners (for joe). (via black-poetry)

I’m faced daily with choosing


or a demeanor that saves

every other life but my own.

Essex Hemphill, “Cordon Negro” (via thegentlemanjigger)

'For My Own Protection' by Essex Hemphill

I want to start an organization
to save my life.
If whales, snails, dogs, cats
Chrysler and Nixon can be saved,
the lives of Black men are priceless
and can be saved.
We should be able to save each other.
I don’t want to wait for the Heritage Foundation
to release a study saying
Black people are extinct.
I don’t want to be the living dead
pacified with drugs, sex and rock-n-roll.
If a human chain be formed
around nuclear missile sites,
then surely Black men can form
human chains around Anacostia, Harlem
South Africa, Wall Street, Hollywood
each other.

If we have to take tomorrow with blood
are we ready?
Do our s curls and dreadlocks and phillies
make us any more ready than a bush or a conkaline?
I’m not concerned
about the attire of a soldier.
All I want to know
for my own protection
is are we capable
of whatever

Essex Hemphill
In The Life: A Black Gay Anthology (Edited by Joseph Beam)
p. 174 

2 years ago on 07/06/12 at 08:26pm

'between a dancer & a poet' by ntozake shange

Pearl Primus dancing “Hard Time Blues” 
(c) 1943

she swayed from the barre     taut     in control
her legs hurt mercilessly      she even laughed
while he took notes
                               ’i wanna love you   like i dance
                                       when i hurt    i’m gettin’ better’
the poet signed his name to lines eclipsin reality
he cdnt catch his breath    the language waz
                    ‘i can love what i understand
                          when i dont understand     i worship’
he put his pencil in his pocket & sat
          in the middle of a whimsical circle
the dancer pliéed       she contracted     she sweat
& grew confident in her struggle
to surpass form   transcend calves ankles hips merely
accoutrements    like a music stand

dance is of the spirit       the body       her sacrifice
to dance
              & she pranced before the poet
    chaséed   before the poet               she struck
the air waz an impudent love            &       the dancer
was righteous chosen to conquer space

she panted     she sweat     & her leotard smelled of heat
& woman                 & she laughed
while the poet fondled his own cheek
she slid round him    her body   swirled like a cobra-wind
& she located the poet’s soul    in space
                                    he lost his spirit    in the rush
of her darin        & she screamed
                              ‘i wanna love you like i dance
                                wild & delicate   reachin for what i do not know
                                   i wanna love you all round yr body
                                     in-out-of-it    no grounds no floor

                                   i wanna love you where i can dance’
& she caressed the air like an ocean fern
            blazin in the pits of ancient sunflowers
    carryin the poet’s soul in the blush of her cheeks
his heart lingerin    in her sweat 

ntozake shange
nappy edges
pp. 108-109 

An excerpt from an April 27, 2000 interview with author, poet, essayist and critic June Jordan at the New York State Writers Institute (

From Okra to Greens / A Different Love Poem / We Need a Change by Ntozake Shange

i haveta turn my television down sometimes cuz
i cant stand to have white people/ shout at me/
sometimes i turn it off
cuz i cant look at em in my bedroom either/
being so white
that’s why i like/ greens/
they cdnt even smell you/ wdnt know what you taste like
without sneakin/ got no
idea you shd be tingled wit hot sauce & showered wit vinegar
yr pot liquor spread on hot rolls

i gotta turn the tv off cuz the white people
keep playing games/ & followin presidents on vacation at the war
there’s too much of a odor problem on the tv too/ which
brings me back to greens

i remember my grandma at the market pickin turnips
collards kale & mustards/ to mix-em up/ drop a ½ a strick a lean
in there wit some ham hock & oh my whatta life/
i lived in her kitchen/ wit greens i cd recollect
yes the very root of myself
        the dirt & lil bugs i looked for in the fresh collards/
        turnin each leaf way so slow/ under the spicket/ watchin
        lil mounds of dirt fall down the drain
i done a good job
grandma tol me/ got them greens just ready for the pot
& you know/ wdnt no white man on the tv/
talkin loud n formal make no sense of the miracle
a good pot a greens on a friday nite cd make to me
that’s the only reason i turn em off the tv
cant stand they gossipin abt the news/ sides they dont
never like the criminals & enemies i like anyway
that’s why i like GREENS/ i know how to cook em
& i sure can dream gd/ soppin up the pot liquor
& them peppers/

ntozake shange
A Daughter’s Geography
pp. 59-60 

2 years ago on 01/29/12 at 06:57pm

"Why I Became a pacifist" by June Jordan

Why I became a pacifist
and then
How I became a warrior again:

Because nothing I could do or say
turned out okay
I figured I should just sit
still and chill
except to maybe mumble
"Baby, Baby:
Because turning that other cheek
        holding my tongue
        refusing to retaliate when the deal
        got ugly
And because not throwing whoever calls me bitch 
        out the goddamn window
And because swallowing my pride
         saying I’m sorry when whoever don’t like
         one single thing
         about me and don’t never take a break from
         counting up the 65,899 ways I talk wrong
         I act wrong
And because sitting on my fist
         neglecting to enumerate every incoherent
         rigid/raggedy-ass/disrespectful/killer cold
         and self-infatuated crime against love
         committed by some loudmouth don’t know
         nothing about it takes 2 to fuck and
         it takes 2 to fuck things up
And because making apologies that nobody give a shit

and because failing to sing my song


          got on my absolute last nerve

I pick up my sword
I lift up my shield
And I stay ready for war
Because now I live ready for a whole lot more

than that 

June Jordan
Directed by Desire: The Collected Poems of June Jordan
pp. 477-478

2 years ago on 01/19/12 at 06:42pm