“i paid my 30 cents and rode by the bus window all the way down…” Nikki Giovanni #BlackHistoryMonth #ValentinesDay

nikki-giovanni
Photo by:

by Nikki Giovanni

i paid my 30 cents and rode by the bus
window all the way down

i felt a little funny with no hair
on my head
but my knees were shiny ’cause
aunty mai belle cleaned me up
and i got off on time and walked
past the lions and the guard straight
up to the desk and said
“dr. doo little steroscope please”
and this really old woman said
“Do You Have A Library Card?”
and i said
“i live here up the street”
and she said
“Do You Have A LIBRARY Card?”
and i said
“this is the only place i can use
the steroscope for
dr. doo little miss washington
brought us here this spring
to see it.”
and another lady said
“GIVE THAT BOY WHAT HE WANT. HE WANT TO LEAD THE RACE”
and i said
“no ma’am i want to see dr. dooolittle”
and she said “same thang son same thang”

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From: My Black Me: A Beginning Book of Black Poetry (A Puffin Poetry Book)
NEW and USED: Abebooks.com My Black Me: A Beginning Book of Black Poetry 
NEW at independent bookstores NEAR you: My Black Me

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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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NEW at independent bookstores: http://www.indiebound.org/book/9780195125634
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America never was America to me, And yet I swear this oath— America will be! Langston Hughes, Ferguson!

 hughes2
A writer dreams.
Let America be America again.
Let it be the dream it used to be.
Let it be the pioneer on the plain
Seeking a home where he himself is free.

(America never was America to me.)

Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed—
Let it be that great strong land of love
Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme
That any man be crushed by one above.

(It never was America to me.)

O, let my land be a land where Liberty
Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,
But opportunity is real, and life is free,
Equality is in the air we breathe.

(There’s never been equality for me,
Nor freedom in this “homeland of the free.”)

Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark? 
And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?

I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart,
I am the Negro bearing slavery’s scars.
I am the red man driven from the land,
I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek—
And finding only the same old stupid plan
Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.

I am the young man, full of strength and hope,
Tangled in that ancient endless chain
Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land!
Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need!
Of work the men! Of take the pay!
Of owning everything for one’s own greed!

I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil.
I am the worker sold to the machine.
I am the Negro, servant to you all.
I am the people, humble, hungry, mean—
Hungry yet today despite the dream.
Beaten yet today—O, Pioneers!
I am the man who never got ahead,
The poorest worker bartered through the years.

Yet I’m the one who dreamt our basic dream
In the Old World while still a serf of kings,
Who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true,
That even yet its mighty daring sings
In every brick and stone, in every furrow turned
That’s made America the land it has become.
O, I’m the man who sailed those early seas
In search of what I meant to be my home—
For I’m the one who left dark Ireland’s shore,
And Poland’s plain, and England’s grassy lea,
And torn from Black Africa’s strand I came
To build a “homeland of the free.”

The free?

Who said the free?  Not me?
Surely not me?  The millions on relief today?
The millions shot down when we strike?
The millions who have nothing for our pay?
For all the dreams we’ve dreamed
And all the songs we’ve sung
And all the hopes we’ve held
And all the flags we’ve hung,
The millions who have nothing for our pay—
Except the dream that’s almost dead today.

O, let America be America again—
The land that never has been yet—
And yet must be—the land where every man is free.
The land that’s mine—the poor man’s, Indian’s, Negro’s, ME—
Who made America,
Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,
Must bring back our mighty dream again.

Sure, call me any ugly name you choose—
The steel of freedom does not stain.
From those who live like leeches on the people’s lives,
We must take back our land again,
America!

O, yes,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath—
America will be!

Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,
The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,
We, the people, must redeem
The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.
The mountains and the endless plain—
All, all the stretch of these great green states—
And make America again!

Poems about The Body. Black poet Sterling A. Brown- Ma Rainey. Will pierce your heart.

Screen Shot 2014-03-09 at 12.35.01 PM
Professor Sterling Brown, Duke Ellington, G Frederick Stanton
– http://www.howard.edu/msrc/treasures_howardiana_vips-honorees.html

Poems about The Body. Black poet Sterling A. Brown- Ma Rainey.

[…]
I talked to a fellow, an’ the fellow say,
“She jes’ catch hold of us, somekindaway.
She sang Backwater Blues one day:

‘It rained fo’ days an’ de skies was dark as night,
Trouble taken place in de lowlands at night.

‘Thundered an’ lightened an’ the storm begin to roll
Thousan’s of people ain’t got no place to go.

‘Den I went an’ stood upon some high ol’ lonesome hill,
An’ looked down on the place where I used to live.’

An’ den de folks, dey natchally bowed dey heads an’ cried,
Bowed dey heavy heads, shet dey moufs up tight an’ cried,
An’ Ma lef’ de stage, an’ followed some de folks outside.”

Dere wasn’t much more de fellow say:
She jes’ gits hold of us dataway.

23_huarchives_sterling_brown

I am a Black Woman, Tall as a Cypress- Mari Evans. Black History Month.

I am a Black Woman

I am a black woman
the music of my song
some sweet arpeggio of tears
is written in a minor key
and I
can be heard humming in the night
Can be heard
humming
in the night

I saw my mate leap screaming to the sea
and I/with these hands/cupped the lifebreath
from my issue in the canebrake
I lost Nat’s swinging body in a rain of tears
and heard my son scream all the way from Anzio
for Peace he never knew….I
learned Da Nang and Pork Chop Hill
in anguish
Now my nostrils know the gas
and these trigger tire/d fingers
seek the softness in my warrior’s beard

I am a black woman
tall as a cypress
strong
beyond all definition still
defying place
and time
and circumstance
assailed
impervious
indestructible
Look
on me and be
renewed

 

Black History Month- poetry: Everett Hoagland, ‘the Anti-Semanticist.’

Image

honeystain…
the rhetoricians of blackness
matters me not
we are black
and you are beautiful

it matters me not whether
your breast are American pumpkin or
African gourds
they are full and you are beautiful

it matters me not be your belly
black or brown
it is soft and you are beautiful

it matters me not be your buttocks
bourgeois or “grass roots”
they are good
and you are beautiful

it matters me not if your bread loaf
thighs are Negro or Afro-American
they are round and so ripe
and you are so beautiful

it matters not whether it is
Victoria falls within your orgasms
instead of Niagara

there is little definition I need
indeed
it matters only that there is
black power
in your loving

this I know
you are beautiful
you are beautiful beyond reference
you are the night interpreted
you are
you…

Everett Hoagland ‘the Anti-Semanticist’

Black History Month

Anti-apartheid poet Antjie Krog. When Mandela was still behind bars.

Anti-apartheid poet Antjie Krog as high school student wrote a famous poem that caused great commotion at the time:

Loosely translated by myself.

Look, I will build me a land
Where skin doesn’t matter not at all…
Just your mind and mine
Where no goat face in the halls of parliament
can never not ever spook to keep things
permanently
cramped
[…[
where black and white, hand on hand
may bring peace and love
to my beautiful land.

Kyk, ek bou vir my ‘n land

Kyk, ek bou vir my ‘n land
Waar ‘n vel niks tel nie,
Net jou verstand.
Waar geen bokgesig in ’n parlement
kan spook om dinge permanent
verkramp te hou nie.
Waar ek jou kan liefhê
langs jou in die gras kan lê
sonder om in ’n kerk ‘ja’ te sê.
Waar ons snags met kitare sing
en vir mekaar wit jasmyne bring.
Waar ek jou nie gif hoef te voer
as ’n vreemde duif in my hare koer.
Waar geen skeihof
my kinders se oë sal verdof.
Waar swart en wit hand aan hand
vrede en liefde kan bring
in my mooi land.