Little Man, Komunyakaa #poem #child #BlackLivesMatter

Family. Community. I like this poem because they are all together and it looks like they are often together. The great-great grandmother loves the child so much, her physical hurts go unnoticed for awhile. He distracts her so much that the pain of loss, the faces of those she lost are not taking over her whole sky.

Coffee is sharp. And milk has a lot of sugar in it. It takes the edge off of coffee like sugar cubes do. You can’t forget the pain if it runs deep, but distraction is a healthy way of forgetting it for a while.

The child is enchanting all the women. And I guess the father would like to do the same. His way may have been the trumpet. Does he not play trumpet any more? He would feel that he could not hold the women’s attention if that was all he had. If his grandmother wakes up every night, he might be the one sent out to look for the burglar. Maybe he is tired and he wishes he could be the distraction for her, take her attention and his wife’s attention. I guess some fathers are jealous of their children. Or maybe he is just tired and his trumpet is on his lap.

LITTLE MAN AROUND THE HOUSE
Yusef Komunyakaa

Mama Elsie’s ninety now.
She calls you whippersnapper.
When you two laugh, her rheumatism
Slips out the window like the burglar
She hears nightly. Three husbands
& an only son dead, she says
I’ll always be a daddy’s girl.
Sometimes I can’t get Papa’s face
Outta my head. But this boy, my great-
Great-grandson, he’s sugar in my coffee. 

You look up from your toy
Telescope, with Satchmo’s eyes,
As if I’d put a horn to your lips.
You love maps of buried treasure,
Praying Mantis, & Public Enemy…
Blessed. For a moment I am jealous.
You sit like the king of trumpet
Between my grandmama & wife,
Youngblood, a Cheshire cat
Hoodooing two birds at once.

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.”

Because if you write it enough maybe you can save them? by Yovanka Paquete Perdigao

Beautiful and sad and strong and vulnerable.

– See more at: http://brittlepaper.com/2015

By Yovanka Paquete Perdigao

I.

You are one of those introverts that fidgets way too much and, drinks too much wine to conceal how shy you really are. It’s not easy for you to connect with people, usually it takes a second meeting to come out of your shell and a third to really be comfortable around someone. But first time encounters you do the standard nodding at whoever is talking and smile even though you have no clue what they just said. Then they ask you the usual niceties of your background, you gladly volunteer that you used to be a refugee. “Three times a refugee, once in my country and twice in Ivory Coast.” They usually look at you unsure to offer pity, hugs, or just act as normally as possible. You’ve always loved to throw off people with the refugee line, it’s sometimes the best icebreakers for an introvert like you. You chuckle. If pressed, you tell them that you spent the summer of 1998 underneath a bed with your sister afraid a bomb might rip the ceiling.

II.

They become awkward, and you laugh even more. You remember that strangely enough you spent that whole summer too laughing away. Like when your aunty was too big to fit underneath the bed so she hid in the closet. Or when you crossed your city waving around a white flag. Just in case. Or when you finally arrived in Senegal and sat inside the bathtub of the hotel looking at the luxurious soap bottles.

 III.

You don’t tell people that although you are one the fortunate ones, although you pretend like it’s nothing, although you pretend like you barely remember it, you live in a house of ghosts with a pen that doesn’t stop writing.

Because if you write it enough maybe you can remember what went wrong?
Because if you write it enough maybe you can give them another life?
Because if you write it enough maybe you can save them?

Because if you don’t write, who will tell their story?

The door closes ,and you hear Nha Clara sighting as usual:

“Guerra fidjo, Guerra ta dana tudo” (War child, war ruins everything)

 

– See more at: http://brittlepaper.com/2015

E.J. Scovell The Days Fail #Baby #WinterSolstice #BlackLivesMatter

Screen Shot 2015-12-20 at 11.44.36 PM
Getty Images Canada, SelectStock
From The First Year

VII

The days fail: night broods over afternoon:
And at my child’s first drink beyond the night
Her skin is silver in the early light.
Sweet the grey morning and the raiders gone.

VIII

the baby in her blue night-jacket, propped on hands
With head raised, coming out to day, has half-way sloughed
The bed-clothes, as a sea-lion, as a mermaid
Half sloughs the sea, rooted in sea, basking on strands.

Like a gentle coastal creature she looks round
At one who comes and goes the far side of her bars;
Firm in her place and lapped by blankets; here like tides
Familiar rise and fall our care for her, our sounds.

E.J. Scovell

Buy the Faber Book of 20th Century Women’s Poetry, ed. Fleur Adcock, from an indie bookseller here.

 

A mother’s yearning/love: “Your clear eye is the one absolutely beautiful thing…” Sylvia Plath #Valentines #poetryisjustawesome

Child by Sylvia Plath

Your clear eye is the one absolutely beautiful thing.
I want to fill it with color and ducks,
The zoo of the new

Whose names you meditate —
April snowdrop, Indian pipe,
Little

Stalk without wrinkle,
Pool in which images
Should be grand and classical

Not this troublous
Wringing of hands, this dark
Ceiling without a star.

.

.

From: Poems on the Underground. Illlustrated edition. Edited by Judith Chernaik, Gerard Benson and Cicely Herbert.

 

Cavalry Way and After Reading Mickey In The Night Kitchen for the Third Time Before Bed.

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

One sad, one happy poem.

Calvary Way

How did you feel, Mary,
Womb heavy with Christ Child,
Tasting the dust of uncertain journey?
Were you afraid?
When, winding the swaddling clothes,
You laid him in the manger,
Were you afraid?
Could you trace nail holes
Under his curling fingers,
Thorn pricks on the forehead?
Could you trace them?

I should bear a warm brown baby,
A new dark world of wonder;
But I fear the nails that pierce the spirit,
The unseen crosses.
How did you feel, Mary,
On the road beyond the star-lit manger,
Up to the hill to crucifixion?
Were you afraid?

May Miller

A graduate of Howard University; did graduate work at Columbia. Teacher of Speech and Dramatics in Baltimore schools.

 

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.

.

Thank you Wiki: From 1993 to 1995 she served as Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress. She is the first African American Poet Laureate. Dove is the second African American to receive the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry (1987). 2011 National Medal of Arts from President Barack Obama.

The documentary film Rita Dove: An American Poet by Argentinean-American filmmaker Eduardo Montes-Bradley premiered at the Paramount Theater (Charlottesville, Virginia) on January 31, 2014.

The annual “Rita Dove Poetry Award” was established by Salem College Center for Women Writers in 2004.

.

Link

Creation story

God’s child kept blocks in his apron’s pocket,
which it had been playing with in the clouds.
But when she, tired, bored, then wished to clear the decks
She saw into the box and could not fathom

how ever to fit them, neatly ordered stacked.
Because God was stern, but slept, so was no danger.
She let them drop, without a further glance
and made straight for a pretty sculpted angel.

The blocks fellthrough stark empty skies,
And reached an empty world, where
They remained as thrown.

Most shattered into hills and dales;
And those, whole, in one piece, formed here and there
the far wide cities and the smallest towns.

Translating, I departed from the rhymes and the almost rhymes out of necessity when the english words don’t rhyme and also because I want to show that Slauerhoff played with leaving out parts of speech, much like Joss Whedon encouraged in Buffy and Firefly. I think his play works especially well because the poem is about creating a world that is not there there and which has holes. Some of the loss of almost rhymes is sad because his choice of words was lovely. Learn Dutch!

“They remained as thrown” was the most difficult to translate because in Dutch part of the verb (“waren”=were) is left out but the last word of this line (geworpen=thrown) rhymes with the last word of the poem (dorpen). Anyway. It is a different poem in English. I love how Slauerhoff stops the story. Leaving the rest to our imagination. The whole poem stops and start and restarts at odd moments. How to play with language. When you read it aloud you need to leave space between inside some of the lines. Where depends on how you speak. The alliterations in the poem and inner rhymes are beautiful.

Also: I like he puts down the answer before we ask the question in the second stanza. He makes the lines work for him. Doesn’t let the mind dictate how he tells his story. Pay attention because G-d isn’t.

Third stanza is funny: you expect more but no.

Creation story

God’s child kept blocks in his apron’s pocket,
which it had been playing with in the clouds.
But when she, tired, bored, then wished to clear the decks
She saw into the box and could not fathom

how ever to fit them, neatly ordered stacked.
Because God was stern, but slept, so was no danger.
She let them drop, without a further glance
and made straight for a pretty sculpted angel.

The blocks fellthrough stark empty skies,
And reached an empty world, where
They remained as thrown.

Most shattered into hills and dales;
And those, whole, in one piece, formed here and there
the far wide cities and the smallest towns.

Dutch: Scheppingsverhaal.

Gods kind had blokken in zijn boezelaar,
Waarmee het in de wolken had gespeeld.
Maar toen zij op wou bergen, moe, verveeld,
Zag ze in de doos en wist niet hoe ze daar

In passen moesten, keurig ingedeeld.
Want God was streng, maar sliep – dus geen gevaar.
Zij liet ze vallen, zag er niet meer naar
Om en ging vlug naar een mooi engelbeeld.

De blokken vielen door een leeg heelal
En kwamen op een leege wereld, waar
Ze bleven zooals ze er heen geworpen.

De meeste sprongen stuk tot berg en dal.
En die heel bleven vormden hier en daar
De groote steden en de kleine dorpen.

© 1998, Erven J. Slauerhoff / K. Lekkerkerker / Uitgeverij Nijgh & Van Ditmar
From: Verzamelde gedichten
Publisher: Nijgh & Van Ditmar, Amsterdam, 1990.