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.
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Snow White was nude at her wedding, she’s so white… #OscarsSoWhite #ThyliasMoss #poetryisjustawesome

Lessons from a Mirror

Snow White was nude at her wedding, she’s so white
the gown seemed to disappear when she put it on.

Put me beside her and the proximity is good
for a study of chiaroscuro, not much else.

Her name aggravates me most, as if I need to be told
what’s white and what isn’t.

Judging strictly by appearance there’s a future for me
forever at her heels, a shadow’s constant worship.

Is it fair for me to live that way, unable
to get off the ground?

Turning the tables isn’t fair unless they keep turning.
Then there’s the danger of Russian roulette

and my disadvantage: nothing falls from the sky
to name me.

I am the empty space where the tooth was, that my tongue
rushes to fill because I can’t stand vacancies.

And it’s not enough. The penis just fills another
gap. And it’s not enough.

When you look at me,
know that more than white is missing.

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From The Oxford Anthology of African-American Poetry.
NEW and USED: Abebooks.com The Oxford Anthology of African-American Poetry
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About the meaning read this post by Tara Betts: ““Lessons from a Mirror” is from Moss’ third collection. Pyramid of Bone was part of the Callaloo Poetry Series, which published early books by Rita Dove, Brenda Marie Osbey, and Elizabeth Alexander.

Lessons from a Mirror” is a concise gathering of 10 couplets that articulates the contrast between a woman of color and someone who she will never be, Snow White.

[…]

This not only implies a sense of possible servitude but a sense that a shadow, darkness will always be beneath whiteness that

darkness must bow and defer as an underling.

[…]

“And it’s not enough.” To say this, recalls how black people have often had to work much

harder to gain a toehold

similar to counterparts of another race, a toehold that has become increasingly more difficult to gain as shown in recent Pew Research Center study about wealth accumulation and loss in the U.S..

[…]

After revisiting Anne Sexton’s poems in Transformations or Lucille Clifton’s biblical poems many times and looking at recent work like Barbara Jane Reyes’ Diwata, Marjorie Tesser’s The Magic Feather, Aimee Nezhukumatathil’s Miracle Fruit, Angela Carter’s The Bloody Chamber, and the anthology The Poets’ Grimm, I’m reminded of how necessary

and jarring it is to see

archetypal stories deconstructed, retold, or even replaced with more inclusive stories.”

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Tune for a Teenage Niece, Eugene B. Redmond

Tune for a Teenage Niece

Smile/ rippling river of dance—
Flow, blow green soul-lyre
Ballooning under brown flesh
Song/swirl, startling as claps
Of unexpected waves;
Girlriver dancing its drumdeep past,
Its boogalooborn/e day,
Fluteflown afro freight
Grandmother/mamma/aunt—sun-led—
Yesterwhistling confluence
.                       /childwoman and charmsong:
.                       Brown blues and honey-river, girl!
.                       Girlmother gonna sing her song someday, boy !
.                       Brown blues and honey-river, girl!”
Smile/river dancing, splashing flame-waves
Applaud and burn/mold brownfruit,
Afro-plum,
River symphony, water ritual:
.                       “Brown blues and honey-river, girl!”
Girlriver, spiced as pot liquor, flowing up/under
From queenmother’s heartbeam; from magic and marmelade
Fluteflown to fleshdance and birdgrace:
Flowing to omen, to woman:
.                       “Brown blues and honey-river, girl!”
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Fantastic compilation of black voices: buy the book.

NEW and USED: Abebooks.com The Oxford Anthology of African-American Poetry
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The Night is beautiful, So the faces of my people. Langston Hughes.

The film Selma was heart-aching. One of the most beautiful shots was where Dr. King phones Mahalia Jackson and asks to hear the voice of the Lord and she sings to him My Precious Lord. 

Listen to the song hhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N1ceCpU25vA

My people

 
The night is beautiful,
So the faces of my people.

The stars are beautiful,
So the eyes of my people.

Beautiful, also is the sun.
Beautiful, also, are the souls of my people.

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KOKUMỌ: Lucille Clifton. Grandsons!!

CLIFTON_resized

KOKUMỌ

Photographs, my grandsons spinning in their joy.

universe
keep them turning —turning
black blurs against the window
of the world
for they are beautiful
and there is trouble coming
round and round and round

Lucille Clifton
In: the Oxford Anthology of African-American Poetry.
Ed. Arnold Rampersad; Associate Ed. Hilary Herbold.

 

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If my slumlord allowed pets- Amber Atiya

tumblr_nedo53sYwC1teummlo1_1280

Second from right. Photo at http://amberatiya.tumblr.com

 

if my slumlord allowed pets

i’d adopt every
after hour paw
mauled in battle

trimmed with scabs
toppling trash
for fries & wing tips

fur splattered
with egg foo young

these streets
weren’t paved
for tenderness

a tabby’s pregnant belly
low-hanging
as a rain cloud

a swollen nimbus
grazing the ground

by Amber Atiya
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‪#‎BlackVoicesMatter‬
‪#‎BlackPoetsFTW‬
‪#‎GeniusBlackAmerica‬

http://www.poetshouse.org/programs-and-events/workshops-classes-residencies/emerging-poets-residency/amber-atiya

Amber Atiya, a queer poet and native Brooklynite, has performed at the Nuyorican Poets Café, Theater for the New City, Westbeth Center for the Arts, and many elsewheres. Her poems have been published in Tribes MagazineDrunken Boat, and Coloring Book, an anthology of multicultural writers. She is a member of a women’s writing group, with whom she’s been writing for ten years and counting.

From: Citizen by Claudia Rankine

Rankine-Claudia-hr
Image Credit: CSU Fullerton
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CLAUDIA RANKINE co-edited the anthology American Women Poets in the 21st Century: Where Lyric Meets Language, and her work is included in several anthologies, including Great American Prose Poems: From Poe to the Present, Best American Poetry 2001, Giant Step: African American Writing at the Crossroads of the Century, and The Garden Thrives: Twentieth Century African-American Poetry. Her work has been published in numerous journals including Boston Review, TriQuarterly, and The Poetry Project Newsletter. She lives and teaches in California. She is the Holloway/Mixed Blood poet for the spring series.
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You are in the dark, in the car, watching the black-tarred street being swallowed by speed; he tells you his dean is making him hire a person of color when there are so many great writers out there.
/
You think maybe this is an experiment and you are being tested or retroactively insulted or you have done something that communicates this is an okay conversation to be having.
Why do you feel okay saying this to me? You wish the light would turn red or a police siren would go off so you could slam on the brakes, slam into the car ahead of you, be propelled forward so quickly both your faces would suddenly be exposed to the wind.
/
As usual you drive straight through the moment with the expected backing off of what was previously said. It is not only that confrontation is headache producing; it is also that you have a destination that doesn’t include acting like this moment isn’t inhabitable, hasn’t happened before, and the before isn’t part of the now as the night darkens 
and the time shortens between where we are and where we are going.
/
When you arrive in your driveway and turn off the car, you remain behind the wheel another ten minutes. You fear the night is being locked in and coded on a cellular level and want time to function as a power wash. Sitting there staring at the closed garage door you are reminded that a friend once told you there exists a medical term — John Henryism — for people exposed to stresses stemming from racism. They achieve themselves to death trying to dodge the build up of erasure. Sherman James, the researcher who came up with the term, claimed the physiological costs were high. You hope by sitting in 
silence you are bucking the trend.
/
When the stranger asks, Why do you care? you just stand there staring at him. He has just referred to the boisterous teenagers in Starbucks as niggers. Hey, I am standing right here, you responded, not necessarily expecting him to turn to you.
He is holding the lidded paper cup in one hand and a small paper bag in the other. They are just being kids. Come on, no need to get all KKK on them, you say.
Now there you go, he responds.
The people around you have turned away from their screens. The teenagers are on pause. There I go? you ask, feeling irritation begin to rain down. Yes, and something about hearing yourself repeating this stranger’s accusation in a voice usually reserved for your partner makes you smile.
/
A man knocked over her son in the subway. You feel your own body wince. He’s okay, but the son of a bitch kept walking. She says she grabbed the stranger’s arm and told him to apologize: I told him to look at the boy and apologize. And yes, you want it to stop, you want the black child pushed to the ground to be seen, to be helped to his feet and be brushed off, not brushed off  by the person that did not see him, has never seen him, has perhaps never seen anyone who is not a reflection of himself.
The beautiful thing is that a group of men began to stand behind me like a fleet of  bodyguards, she says, like newly found uncles and brothers.
/
The new therapist specializes in trauma counseling. You have only ever spoken on the phone. Her house has a side gate that leads to a back entrance she uses for patients. You walk down a path bordered on both sides with deer grass and rosemary to the gate, which turns out to be locked.
At the front door the bell is a small round disc that you press firmly. When the door finally opens, the woman standing there yells, at the top of her lungs, Get away from my house. What are you doing in my yard?
It’s as if a wounded Doberman pinscher or a German shepherd has gained the power of speech. And though you back up a few steps, you manage to tell her you have an appointment. You have an appointment? she spits back. Then she pauses. Everything pauses. Oh, she says, followed by, oh, yes, that’s right. I am sorry.
I am so sorry, so, so sorry.
/
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