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.”
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Mi no wani wan ati di n’ abi kra I wish for no heart without a soul #BlackLivesMatter #poem Surinam

Surinam is a country with the rule of law and a democracy in Latin America, but counted under the Caribbean like Trinidad and Tobago. Sranantongo is the language. The language is part Dutch, part Indonesian and also has traces of Indian-Indonesian and Chinese-Indonesian. Surinam was a country partly build by slaves and taken from many Indigenous peoples. Google it.

Awese (Winti religion: a good spirit)
Light in the everlasting Dark Moon
Johanna Schouten/Elsenhout

a mindri fu strei fu aladei
In the midst of the struggle of everyday
te midden van de strijd van alledag

.
Duman

Mi no wani
wan ati
di n’ abi kra
mi wani
wan yeye d’ e libi

mi n’e wer’
susu
di n’e fit’mi
m’e wer’
mi eigi krompu

mi n’e sdon
luku
a fesi fu sma
m’e luku ini
mi eigi spikri

Human of the Deed

I wish for
no heart
without a soul
I want
a mind who lives

I wear
no shoes
that do not fit me
I wear
my own clogs

I am not
watching
the faces of others
I look in
my own mirror

Mens van de daad

Ik wil
geen hart
dat geen ziel heeft
ik wil
een geest die leeft

ik draag
geen schoenen
die mij niet passen
ik draag
mijn eigen klompen

ik zit niet
te kijken
naar het gezicht van anderen
ik kijk in
mijn eigen spiegel

klompen: slippers met houten zool
klompen: slippers with wooden sole

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More to read here 

Tekstredactie en vertaling D.Fance Olivieira
Libertas
ISBN 978 99914 7 048 1
145 blz.

#BlackLivesMatter #poem “You is kind,” she say, “you is smart. You is important.”

Last page of The Help.

 

And then she say it, just like I need her to. “You is kind,” she say, “you is smart. You is important.”

But at the same time feeling, in a way, that I’m free, like Minny. Freer than Miss Leefolt, who so locked up in her own head she don’t recognize herself when she read it…

I head down the hot sidewalk at eight thirty in the morning wondering what I’m on do with the rest a my day. The rest a my life. I am shaking and crying and a white lady walk by frowning at me. The paper gone pay me ten dolars a week, there’s the book money plus a little more coming. Still it ain’t enough for me to the rest a my life on…

The sun is bright but my eyes wide open. I stand at the bus stop like I been doing for forty-odd years. In thirty minutes, my whole life’s …done. Maybe I ought to keep writing, not just for the paper, but something else, about all the people I know and the things I seen and done. Maybe I ain’t too old to start over, I think and I laugh and cry at the same time at this. Cause just last night I thought I was finished with everything new.

#BlackHistoryMonth Walking Down Park by Nikki Giovanni #iNeedFeminismBecause

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Walking Down Park

BY NIKKI GIOVANNI

walking down park
amsterdam
or columbus do you ever stop
to think what it looked like
before it was an avenue
did you ever stop to think
what you walked
before you rode
subways to the stock
exchange (we can’t be on
the stock exchange
we are the stock
exchanged)
.
did you ever maybe wonder
what grass was like before
they rolled it
into a ball and called
it central park
where syphilitic dogs
and their two-legged tubercular
masters fertilize
the corners and side-walks
ever want to know what would happen
if your life could be fertilized
by a love thought
from a loved one
who loves you
 .
ever look south
on a clear day and not see
time’s squares but see
tall Birch trees with sycamores
touching hands
and see gazelles running playfully
after the lions
ever hear the antelope bark
from the third floor apartment
 .
ever, did you ever, sit down
and wonder about what freedom’s freedom
would bring
it’s so easy to be free
you start by loving yourself
then those who look like you
all else will come
naturally
 .
ever wonder why
so much asphalt was laid
in so little space
probably so we would forget
the Iroquois, Algonquin
and Mohicans who could caress
the earth
 .
ever think what Harlem would be
like if our herbs and roots and elephant ears
grew sending
a cacophony of sound to us
the parrot parroting black is beautiful black is beautiful
owls sending out whooooo’s making love …
and me and you just sitting in the sun trying
to find a way to get a banana tree from one of the monkeys
koala bears in the trees laughing at our listlessness
 .
ever think its possible
for us to be
happy
 .
.

Nikki Giovanni, “Walking Down Park” from The Selected Poems of Nikki Giovanni. Copyright © 1996 by Nikki Giovanni. Used with the permission of HarperCollins Publishers.

Source: The Collected Poems of Nikki Giovanni (2003)

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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

The Gods Wrote #blacklivesmatter South Africa

THE GODS WROTE
We are breath of drop of rain
Grain of sea sand in the wind
We are root of baobab
Flesh of this soil
Blood of Congo brush elegant
As breast of dark cloud
Or milk flowing through the groaning yearsWe also know
Centuries with the taste
Of white shit down to the spine…The choice is ours
So is the life
The music of our laughter reborn
Tyityimba or boogaloo passion
Of the sun-eyed gods of our blood
Laughs in the nighttime, in the daytime too
And across America vicious cities
Clatter to the ground. Was it notAll written by the gods!
Turn the things! I said
Let them things roll
To the rhythm of our movement
Don’t you know this is a love supreme!
John Coltrane  John Coltrane tell the ancestors
We listened we heard your message
Tell them you gave us tracks to move

Trane and now we know
The choice is ours
So is the mind and the matches too
The choice is ours

So is the beginning
‘We were not made eternally to weep’
The choice is ours
So is the need and the want too
The choice is ours
So is the vision of the day

 

harriet by Lucille Clifton. (Harriet Tubman)

harriet
if i be you
let me not forget
to be the pistol
pointed
to be the madwoman
at the rivers edge
warning
be free or die
and isabell
if i be you
let me in my
sojourning
not forget
to ask my brothers
ain’t i a woman too
and
grandmother
if i be you
let me not forget
to work hard
trust the Gods
love my children and
wait.

.

Lucille Clifton .
.
Isabella Baumfree was the slave name of free woman Sojourner Truth. More thoughts about the poem here.

.

Connotations to “wait”: psalms, patience, Walt Witman’s Song of Myself that ends with “wait” and that Clifton refers to elsewhere and white people telling black folks to “go slow” and wait for more civil rights as sung in Mississippi Goddam by Nina Simone.
.

“… You will hardly know who I am or what I mean,
But I shall be good health to you nevertheless,
And filter and fibre your blood.

.

Failing to fetch me at first keep encouraged,
Missing me one place search another,
I stop somewhere waiting for you.”

.

Walt Whitman.

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

I know why the caged bird sings. Paul Dunbar and Maya Angelou.

Aside

paul_laurence_dunbar_1 600full-maya-angelou

I know why the caged bird sings”. A line by Paul Dunbar that inspired Maya Angelou.

Sympathy

by Paul Laurence Dunbar

I know what the caged bird feels, alas!
When the sun is bright on the upland slopes;
When the wind stirs soft through the springing grass,
And the river flows like a stream of glass;
When the first bird sings and the first bud opes,
And the faint perfume from its chalice steals—
I know what the caged bird feels!

I know why the caged bird beats his wing
Till its blood is red on the cruel bars;
For he must fly back to his perch and cling
When he fain would be on the bough a-swing;
And a pain still throbs in the old, old scars
And they pulse again with a keener sting—
I know why he beats his wing!

I know why the caged bird sings, ah me,
When his wing is bruised and his bosom sore,—
When he beats his bars and he would be free;
It is not a carol of joy or glee,
But a prayer that he sends from his heart’s deep core,
But a plea, that upward to Heaven he flings—
I know why the caged bird sings!

The above poem was published in Lyrics of the Hearthside by Dodd, Mead and Company in 1899.
~~
This is the poem that inspired Maya Angelou’s poem.

© Paul Laurence Dunbar. All rights reserved

 

The free bird leaps
on the back of the wind
and floats downstream
till the current ends
and dips his wings
in the orange sun rays
and dares to claim the sky.

But a bird that stalks
down his narrow cage
can seldom see through
his bars of rage
his wings are clipped and
his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings
with fearful trill
of the things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird
sings of freedom

The free bird thinks of another breeze
and the trade winds soft through the sighing trees
and the fat worms waiting on a dawn-bright lawn
and he names the sky his own.

But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams
his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream
his wings are clipped and his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing

The caged bird sings
with a fearful trill
of things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird
sings of freedom.

Maya Angelou