Sunday Afternoon, Denise Levertov #poem #girls #church #wild

One of these poems that are so lovely your heart aches and you want to spend the rest of the day finding every single poem this poet wrote. A sort of poetry feeding frenzy.

Levertov, Denise Levertov: “[I knew] before I was ten that I was an artist-person and I had a destiny.”

I started reading about her life and I have to close the window, because I must read property law first. Who are the Black Mountain Poets?!

Oh! Look at this title: “The Life Around Us: Selected Poems on Nature (1997)” And “White Owl and Blue Mouse.”

I wonder if the afternoon sun lay red on the white dresses or if they actually changed clothes. Maybe it is a Catholic thing.

Sunday Afternoon

After the First Communion
and the banquet of mangoes and
bridal cake, the young daughters
of the coffee merchant lay down
for 1 long siesta, and their white dresses
lay beside them in quietness
and the white veils floated
in their dreams as the flies buzzed.

But as the afternoon
burned to a close they rose
and ran about the neighborhood
among the halfbuilt villas
alive, alive, kicking a basketball, wearing
other new’ dresses, of bloodred velvet.

If you are forever watching dogs or just your own dog, this rhythm in the next poem feels so very familiar… Except in spring when a dog needs to sniff every scent in 30 minutes of pausing for half a block. And except in Winter when it is too cold on the bottom of the paws and the only scents are the neighbours dogs’ yellow snow.

Overland to the Islands

Let’s go—much as that dog goes,
intently haphazard. The
Mexican light on a day that
‘smells like autumn in Connecticut’
makes iris ripples on his
black gleaming fur—and that too
is as one would desire—a radiance
consorting with the dance.
.                                                    Under his feet
rocks and mud, his imagination, sniffing,
engaged in its perceptions—dancing
edgeways, there’s nothing
the dog disdains on his way,
nevertheless he
keeps moving, changing
pace and approach but
not direction—’every step an arrival.’

Denise Levertov (b. 1923)

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Great Amazon of God behold your bread #poem #blacklivesmatter #malcolmx #blackfuturemonth

Two stanzas from two different poems For Malcolm X and For Mary McLeod Bethune.

Margaret Walker is an incredibly influential writer. She is a poet whose work is fresh and powerful in its conscious pride, its longing, vehement prayers and its direct broken hearted-ness.

From the Poetryfoundation:
“Walker’s first novel, Jubilee, is notable for being “the first truly historical black American novel,” reported Washington Post contributor Crispin Y. Campbell.

It was also the first work by a black writer to speak out for the liberation of the black woman.

The cornerstones of a literature that affirms the African folk roots of black American life, these two books have also been called visionary for looking toward a new cultural unity for black Americans that will be built on that foundation.”

For Mary McLeod Bethune

Believing in the people who are free,
who walk uplifted in an honest way,
you look at last upon another day
that you have fought with God and women to see.
Great Amazon of God behold your bread.
We walk with you and we are comforted.

 

For Malcolm X

Snow-white moslem head-dress around a dead black face!
Beautiful were your sand-papering words against our skins!
Our blood and water pour from your flowing wounds.
You have cut open our breasts and dug scalpels in our brains.
When and Where will another come to take your holy place?
Old man mumbling in his dotage, crying child, unborn?

 

Full poems:

For Mary McLeod Bethune

Great Amazon of God behold your bread
washed home again from many distant seas.
The cup of life you lift contains no less,
no bitterness to mock you. In its stead
this sparkling chalice many souls has fed,
and broken hearted people on their knees
lift up their eyes and suddenly they seize
on living faith, and they are comforted.

Believing in the people who are free,
who walk uplifted in an honest way,
you look at last upon another day
that you have fought with God and men to see.
Great Amazon of God behold your bread.
We walk with you and we are comforted.

—margaret walker, mary mcleod bethune.

 

For Malcolm X

BY MARGARET WALKER

All you violated ones with gentle hearts;
You violent dreamers whose cries shout heartbreak;
Whose voices echo clamors of our cool capers,
And whose black faces have hollowed pits for eyes.
All you gambling sons and hooked children and bowery bums
Hating white devils and black bourgeoisie,
Thumbing your noses at your burning red suns,
Gather round this coffin and mourn your dying swan.
Snow-white moslem head-dress around a dead black face!
Beautiful were your sand-papering words against our skins!
Our blood and water pour from your flowing wounds.
You have cut open our breasts and dug scalpels in our brains.
When and Where will another come to take your holy place?
Old man mumbling in his dotage, crying child, unborn?
More from Poetry foundation:
“Walker’s volume of poetry Prophets for a New Day was published in 1970. She called Prophets for a New Day her civil rights poems…Walker begins the volume with two poems in which the speakers are young children;
one eight-year-old demonstrator eagerly waits to be arrested with her group in the fight for equality, and a second one
is already jailed and wants no bail.
Her point is that these young girls are just as much prophets for a new day as were Nat Turner, Gabriel Prosser, Denmark Vesey, Toussaint L’Ouverture, and John Brown.”

She demands to see mine and momentarily we’re a lopsided star #BlackLivesMatter #poem #iNeedFeminismBecause

Because The Oxford Anthology of African American Poetry is one of the best, most satisfying, fat books of poetry I have, you should go buy it too. Poets get paid and editors get paid and we get more poesie. This leads to joy.

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

 

After Reading Mickey In The Night Kitchen for the Third Time Before Bed 
Rita Dove

I’m the milk and the milk’s in me!… I’m Mickey!

My daughter spreads her legs
to find her vagina:
hairless, this mistaken
bit of nomenclature
is what a stranger cannot touch
without her yelling. She demands
to see mine and momentarily
we’re a lopsided star
among the spilled toys,
my prodigious scallops
exposed to her neat cameo.

And yet the same glazed
tunnel, layered sequences.
She is three; that makes this
innocent. We’re pink! 
she shrieks, and bounds off.

Every month she wants
to know where it hurts
and what the wrinkled string means
between my legs. This is good blood
I say, but that’s wrong, too.
How to tell her that it’s what makes us —
black mother, cream child.
That we’re in the pink
and the pink’s in us.

Oh, Lucille Clifton… “Listen Children/we have always loved each other” #BlackLivesMatter #ValentinesDay

One of the most beautiful love poems for black children. So much love she has, and so careful to talk simply and direct. No big words, no flowers, chocolate or stars. Lucille Clifton passed away 5 years ago after many years of fighting cancer.

Listen Children

listen children
keep this in the place
you have for keeping
always
keep it all ways

we have never hated black

listen
we have been ashamed
hopeless tired mad
but always
all ways
we loved us

we have always loved each other
children all ways

pass it on

…………………………………………………

good times

my daddy has paid the rent
and the insurance man is gone
and the lights is back on
and my uncle brud has hit
for one dollar straight
and they is good times
good times
good times

my mama has made bread
and grampaw has come
and everybody is drunk
and dancing in the kitchen
and singing in the kitchen
of these is good times
good times
good times

oh children think about the
good times

………………………………………………….

Poem in praise of menstruation

if there is a river
more beautiful than this
bright as the blood
red edge of the moon if
there is a river
more faithful than this
returning each month
to the same delta if there

is a river
braver than this
coming and coming in a surge
of passion, of pain if there is

a river
more ancient than this
daughter of eve
mother of cain and of abel if there is in

the universe such a river if
there is some where water
more powerful than this wild
water

pray that it flows also
through animals
beautiful and faithful and ancient
and female and brave

………………………………………………….

The New Yorker remembers one of the great poets, Lucille Clifton!!

A longer, very satisfying, piece that has long lists of what to read for various age groups is at the poetry foundation.

BUY: 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.

Every land is the holy land– Watch where the branches of the willows bend! And some haikus… Black Elk, Le Guin, Issa on Friday!

Image Image

Every land is the holy land by Ursula K. Le Guin (November 2006)

From a saying of Black Elk
Watch where the branches of the willows bend
See where the waters of the rivers tend
Graves in the rock, cradles in the sand
Every land is the holy land
Here was the battle to the bitter end
Here’s where the enemy killed the friend
Blood on the rock, tears on the sand
Every land is the holy land
Willow by the water bending in the wind
Bent till it’s broken and it will not stand
Listen to the word the messengers send
Life like the broken rock, death like the sand
Every land is the holy land

.

.
And some haikus for Friday by Issa:

The distant mountains
are reflected in the eye
of the dragonfly

Frog and I,
eyeball
to eyeball.

A sheet of rain.
Only one man remains among
cherry blossom shadows

What good luck!
Bitten by
this year’s mosquitoes too.