Black Poet, White Critic #BlackLivesMatter #poem Dudley Randall

Black Poet, White Critic

A critic advises
not to write on controversial subjects
like freedom or murder,
but to treat universal themes
and timeless symbols
like the white unicorn.

A white unicorn?

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Dudley Randall

George

When I was a child desiring the title of grown-up
And toiling to earn it
In the inferno of the foundry knockout
I watched and admired you working by my side’
As, goggled, with mask on your mouth and shoulders bright
. with sweat,
You mastered the monstrous, lumpish cylinder blocks,
And when they clotted the line and plunged to the floor
With force enough to tear your foot in two,
You calmly stepped aside.

One day when the line broke down and the blocks clogged up
Groaning, grinding, and mounted like an ocean wave
And then rushed thundering down like an avalanche,
And we frantically dodged, then placed our heads together
To form an arch to lift and stack them,
You gave me your highest accolade:
You said, ‘You’re not afraid of sweat. You’re strong as a mule.’

Now, here, in the hospital,
In a ward where old men wait to die,
You sit, and watch time go by.
You cannot read the books I bring, not even
Those that are only picture books,
As you sit among the senile wrecks,
The psychopaths, the incontinent.

One day when you fell from your chair and stared at the air
With the look of fright which sight of death inspires,
I lifted you like a cylinder block, and said,
‘Don’t be afraid
Of a little fall, for you’ll be here
A long time yet, because you’re strong as a mule.’

From: Contemporary American Poetry edited by Donald Hall

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Pamela Sneed Say Her Name Black Lives Matter

I had just begun to relax
celebrate the marriage equality ruling
I had just begun feeling with Obama I was
watching Ali in trouble off the ropes
delivering to his opponents the rope-a-dope
my fathers eyes
excitement
I was just beginning to breathe air
feel exhilirated at images of
Joe Biden and President Obama running
down halls of the White House with rainbow flags
like boys with kites-soaring
I was just beginning to forgive deaths of my brothers
to Aids
not forget
there should stil be tribunals
for them and every woman abused
by the medical system
I had just begun to turn a corner on Mike Brown, Freddie Gray
Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, The massacre at AME
not think of it all everyday
Then the police kill this young Black girl in custody in Texas
claim she committed suicide
I remember we’re a war nation
in war times
I imagine how James, Bayard, Nina felt
seeing a nation turn its dogs, teeth, gas, hoses, bullets,
on children, adults, humans
I cant stop thinking about Steve Biko
his battered face
they say he hung himself too
the worlds outrage
who will pray now
for us
America

Jazzonia by Langston Hughes. “oh, silver rivers of the soul” #BlackLivesMatter #BlackHistoryYouDidntLearnInSchool #blackpoet

Jazzonia by Langston Hughes

Oh, silver tree!
Oh, shining rivers of the soul!

In a Harlem cabaret
Six long-headed jazzers play.
A dancing girl whose eyes are bold
Lifts high a dress of silken gold.

Oh, singing tree!
Oh, shining rivers of the soul!

Were Eve’s eyes
In the first garden
Just a bit too bold?
Was Cleopatra gorgeous
In a gown of gold?

Oh, shining tree!
Oh, silver rivers of the soul!

In a whirling cabaret
Six long-headed jazzers play.

 

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From: The Oxford Anthology of African-American Poetry.
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The Little Dandelion by Lula Lowe Weeden #BlackHistoryMonth #BlackLoveMatters #BlackLivesMatter #‎thisisluv‬ #BlackWomenMatter

The Little Dandelion by Lula Lowe Weeden

The dandelion stares
In the yellow sunlight.
How very still it is!
When it is old and grey,
I blow its white hair away,
And leave it with a bald head.

.

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The african-american poet Lula Lowe Weeden started writing poems as a child to immediate success. Her poems are intricate and direct.

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“Caroling Dusk: an Anthology of Verse by Black Poets.” Edited by Countee Cullen.

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Can a dream compete with onions, fried tomatoes and a hot shower? “Kitchenette Building” by Gwendolyn Brooks #BlackLivesMatter #BlackHistoryMonth #BlackWomenMatter #ValentinesDay

Do you let a dream go by because there is so much else to do? So much to cook, take the trash out, sing out loud arias and dance around. And a hot shower makes you forget everything, a luke warm shower makes you want the heat so much that you keep standing in the hope the water gets warmer. It doesn’t. And then you’re too tired or ready to go out.
Kitchenette Building by Gwendolyn Brooks
But could a dream send up through onion fumes
Its white and violet, fight with fried potatoes
And yesterday’s garbage ripening in the hall,
Flutter, or sing an aria down these rooms
Even if we were willing to let it in,
Had time to warm it, keep it very clean,
Anticipate a message, let it begin?
We wonder. But not well! not for a minute!
Since Number Five is out of the bathroom now,
We think of lukewarm water, hope to get in it.
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From: The Oxford Anthology of African-American Poetry.
NEW and USED: Abebooks.com The Oxford Anthology of African-American Poetry
NEW at independent bookstores: http://www.indiebound.org/book/9780195125634

“Brown eyes that loved without a trace of fear” and grandmothers! #BlackHistoryMonth #ValentinesDay #BlackLivesMatter

We begin with grandmothers. Isn’t it something else when you think we came out of of our grandmothers- in a very physical way… Her body gave either our father or our mother. You are physically a part of her body. Of course not everybody has a loving relationship with their grandparents or even *has* grandparents they know. Some people become our grandparents because of the air you breathe together or the houses you shared or the streets.

Part of a poem Face by Jean Toomer, it is a sad poem but he wrote it with so much love for the grandmother… loving her face:

Face

Hair—
silver-gray
like streams of stars,
Brows—
recurved canoes
quivered by the ripples blown by pain,
Her eyes—
mist of tears
condensing on the flesh below
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From: November Cotton Flower

Brown eyes that loved without a trace of fear,
Beauty so sudden for that time of year.

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All of the poem November Cotton Flower:

Boll-weevil’s coming, and the winter’s cold,
Made cotton-stalks look rusty, seasons old,
And cotton, scarce as any southern snow,
Was vanishing; the branch, so pinched and slow,
Failed in its function as the autumn rake;
Drouth fighting soil had caused the soil to take
All water from the streams; dead birds were found
In wells a hundred feet below the ground—
Such was the season when the flower bloomed.
Old folks were startled, and it soon assumed
Significance. Superstition saw
Something it had never seen before:
Brown eyes that loved without a trace of fear,
Beauty so sudden for that time of year.
.

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“Caroling Dusk: an Anthology of Verse by Black Poets.” Edited by Countee Cullen.

NEW and USED: Abebooks.com Caroling Dusk
NEW at independent bookstores NEAR you: Caroling Dusk

brothers, who will hold her, who will find her beautiful if you do not? Lucille Clifton. #OscarsSoWhite

song at midnight

brothers,
this big woman
carries much sweetness
in the folds of her flesh.
her hair
is white with wonderful.
she is
rounder than the moon
and far more faithful.
brothers,
who will hold her,
who will find her beautiful
if you do not?

won’t you celebrate with me
what i have shaped into
a kind of life? i had no model.
born in babylon
both nonwhite and woman
what did i see to be except myself?
i made it up
here on the bridge between
starshine and clay,
my own hand holding tight
my other hand; come celebrate
with me that everyday
something has tried to kill me
and has failed.

Lucille Clifton

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From The Oxford Anthology of African-American Poetry.
NEW and USED: Abebooks.com The Oxford Anthology of African-American Poetry
NEW at independent bookstores: http://www.indiebound.org/book/9780195125634