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.

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#BlackHistoryMonth Old Black Ladies Standing on Bus Stop Corners #poem

7db2148cc553f6b4793de5f6fc583e7cLadies On The Town, Bus Stop In Chinatown, Washington, DC
Photo by Gerald L. Campbell

Old Black Ladies Standing on Bus Stop Corners #2

for my grandmother, Leona Smith

blue black & bow bent under, beautiful
blue black & bow bent under, beautiful
blue black & bow bent under, beautiful

& it never did matter
whether the weather
was flame-tongue-licked
or as cold as a welldigger’s asshole
in late december when santa claus
was working his cold money bullshit
that made financiers grin ear to ear
all the way to secret bank vaults
overflowing with marble eyes
of dirt-poor children

blue black & bow bent under, beautiful
blue black & bow bent under, beautiful
blue black & bow bent under, beautiful

never did matter
whether the days were storm raked
unzipped by lightning streaking clouds
dropping tornadoes that skipped crazy
to their own exploding beat
shooting hailstone death–
that popped like old bones–
crashing into the skulled
sunken eyes of tired old ladies
tired old black ladies
standing on bus stop corners
pain wrapped as shawls around their necks

blue black & bow bent under, beautiful

& “mama” it didn’t matter
that your pained scarred feet overworked
numb legs grew down out of old worn dresses
seemingly fragile, gaunt & skeletal frail
as two old mop sticks–scarecrow legs–
and didn’t matter because you stood there anyway
defying nature’s chameleon weather–
cold as a welldigger’s asshole, then oven-hot–
defying all reason, you stood
there, testifying over 300 years
stretching back, of madness & treason

blue black & bow bent under, beautiful

no, it didn’t matter
because the beauty of your heroic life
grown lovely in twisted swamps
grown lovely in a loveless land
grown pure & full from wombs
of concrete blood & bones
of concrete blood & bones & death
of death & sweat chained to breath
didn’t matter dark proud flower
who stood tall scrubbed by cold
& rain & heat & age carrying
the foreign name given your grandfather–
who swayed body high
twisting & turning in the breeze
like billie’s “strange fruit”–

because you stood there anyway
unforgettably silent in your standing
beautiful work-scarred black lady
numb legs & bow bent under beautiful
stood there on pain-scarred feet overworked
numb legs
& bow bent under beautiful
under the memory of your grandfather swaying high
up there in a burning southern breeze
now sweet music love sings soft tender beauty
deep in your washed aging windows–
& you give me strength
during the mad, bizarre days–

& we have learned to love your life
& will vindicate the pain & silence of your life
the memory of your grandfather with the foreign name
& who sways high up there in history over your legs
blue black & bow bent under beautiful
the weight of over 300 years carried
of blood & bones & death in mud
of breath & sweat chained to death
numb legs & bow bent under beautiful
under the memory of your grandfather
swaying high up there in the burning breeze

didn’t matter whether the weather was flame-tongue-licked
or cold as a welldigger’s asshole in late december
because you stood there anyway
in full bloom of your strength & rare beauty
& made us strong

blue black & bow bent under, beautiful
blue black & bow bent under, beautiful
blue black & bow bent under, beautiful

Quincy Troupe, in The Oxford Anthology of African-American Poetry, ed. Arnold Rampersad (Oxford 2006)

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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

#BlackHistoryMonth #poem Old People Speak of Death #blacklivesmatter

Quincy Troupe the poet is an amazing black poet, prof and writer for children!

Quincy Troupe feels like home, because he is Emeritus Professor American and Caribbean Literature at the University of California. Anyone who loves Caribbean literature has a special place in my heart.

He is #BlackExcellence: Quincy Troupe publishes Black Renaissance Noire, an academic, cultural, political and literary newspaper co-published by the University of New York through the African studies and the Institute of Afroamerican Issues program/department.

And, and, and… He was co-author along with Miles Davis of Miles: The Autobiography, 1989.

What a fine man!

The Old People Speak of Death,
For Grandmother, Leona Smith
by Quincy Troupe

the old people speak of death
frequently, now
my grandmother speaks of those now
gone to spirit, now
less than bone

they speak of shadows that graced
their days, made lovelier by their wings of light
speak of years & of the corpses of years, of darkness
& of relationships buried
deeper even than residue of bone
gone now, beyond hardness
gone now, beyond form

they smile now from ingrown roots
of beginnings, those who have left us
& climbed back through holes the old folks left
inside their turnstile eyes
for them to pass through

eye walk back now, with this poem
through turnstile-holes the old folks – ancestors – left inside
their tunneling eyes for me to pass through, walk back to where
eye see them there
the ones who have gone beyond hardness
the ones who have gone beyond form
see them there
darker than where roots began
& lighter than where they go
carrying spirits heavier than stone –
their memories sometimes brighter
than the flash of sudden lightning –

& green branches & flowers will grow
from these roots – wearing faces –
darker than time & blacker than even the ashes of nations
sweet music will sprout from these flowers & wave petals
like hands caressing love-stroked language
under sun-tongued mornings –
shadow the light spirit in all our eyes –

they have gone now, back to shadow
as eye climb back out of the holes of these old peoples
eyes, those spirits who sing now through this poem
who have gone now back with their spirits
to fuse with greenness
enter stones & glue their invisible traces
as faces nailed upon the transmigration of earth
their exhausted breath now singing guitar blues
voices blowing winds through white ribcages
of these boned days
gone now back to where
years run, darker than where
roots begin, greener than what
they bring – spring
the old people speak of death
frequently, now
my grandmother speaks of those now
gone to spirit, now
less than bone

 

Quincy Troupe was born in New York , United States , in 1943. Poet, narrator, essayist, college professor. He has published, among other works, the poetry books: Embryo, 1971; Skulls along the River, 1984; Weather Reports: New and Selected Poems, 1991; Avalanche, 1997; Trascircularities; New and Selected Poems, 2002; and more recently, The Architechture of Language. He is Emeritus Professor of creative writing and American and Caribbean Literature at the University of California .

His poetry and prose have been translated into French, Spanish, German, Italian, Russian, Polish and Dutch. He has read his work throughout all the United States as well as in Europe, Africa, Canada , The Caribbean, Mexico and Brazil .

He has published the following books for children: Take it to the hoop, Magic Johnson, based on his popular “Poem for Magic” 2000; Little Stevie 2005 and Hallalujah about old Ray Charles, 2006.”

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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

Dear Black Barbie #BlackLivesMatter by Candace G. Wiley

#iNeedFeminismBecause #INTERSECTIONALITY #endpoverty #idlenomore #onelove #lgbt

This poem is a hard one to read and to acknowledge: power of white patriarchy and internalized racism, sexism, homophobia. White people need to make space in their privileged life and work and free time for people of colour. Every day. And if you think that is tiring… it is. Less tiring however than to be indigenous, black or of colour. At the moment being a muslim, especially being a woman with a headscarf is tiring, scary, sad. The least we can do is to stand up for those women and step in, step up and defend them if anyone, including unfortunately cops who were meant to protect us (?), attacks them or harasses them. Record, but don’t just record. Protect and support your neighbours.

And we have to ask for more. One black barbie isn’t enough just because she didn’t used to be there (isn’t true anyway, there have always been black dolls), our kids need more and different ones!

Screen Shot 2015-12-10 at 10.52.07 PM

DEAR BLACK BARBIE

Candace G. Wiley

I made you fuck my white Barbie
even though I knew you didn’t want to.
There were no whips or chains,
this was a different kind of plantation fantasy.
I didn’t have a Ken doll, so I made you the man.
Not knowing what fucking looked like
I just rubbed you against each other and made you kiss.

I kept you barefoot like you came
three worlds later or fifty years earlier,
but I had Nicki Minaj dreams for us:
bleached brown skin, long stringy yellow hair,
God-blue eyes, lips pink as a Cadillac. Only then
could you wear the best dress and the one pair of pumps.

My dear black Barbie, maybe you needed a grandma
to tell you things are better than they used to be.
There was a time when you didn’t exist at all.

 

http://prairieschooner.unl.edu/excerpt/dear-black-barbie

“Candace G. Wiley is a poet and fiction writer.

She has served as the creative writing director for a reproduction of the musical revue Jacques Brel: Alive and Well and Living in Paris, which was a benefit performance for Haiti, and

she has written dialogues and poetry for the prototype of Ghosts of South Carolina College, an iPhone app.

She recently returned to the United States from San Basilio de Palenque, Colombia, where she conducted research as a Fulbright Fellow for her poetry manuscript.”

https://muse.jhu.edu/login?auth=0&type=summary&url=/journals/prairie_schooner/v088/88.1.wiley.html

 

 Buy from an Indie bookstore here 

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.

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

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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.
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“… 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.

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

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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

Pamela Sneed- Survivor 2014 “the frayed ends of my own un-lived dreams”

PamelaSneed

Photo by Robert Giard in book “Particular Voices: Portraits of Gay and Lesbian Writers” Abebooks.com

http://www.abebooks.com/servlet/SearchResults?an=pamela+sneed&sts=t&x=35&y=18

Pamela Sneed

Survivor 2014 

Contrary to what’s popular I never liked Diana Nyad

in my mind overrated white woman

ex-olympic swimmer most recently swam from Cuba to Florida

privileged

thrill seeker

daredevil

doing voluntarily what so many people of color

are forced to do while attempting to gain freedom

drowning in boats, falling overboard, terrible accidents,

falling into the jaws of sharks, those waters a meat fest

for predators, slavers

Sometimes I think about slavery and think if only those waters

could tell the tale

I’ve always wanted to say to those people who go on the reality-show Survivor for kicks

try being an artist and make it your career choice

or how about a single mother or father trying to raise a family

on minimum wage living in an impoverished area

try being someone who comes to America and

doesn’t speak the language whose entire survival rests upon

learning english

arriving in a strange land, on strange soil, estranged from everything

you have ever known

like hitting your head against a glass door, or mirrors

like optical illusions that used to be in the old fun houses

or how about being uninsured and being sick for a number

of years

weathering that storm

or insured but burdened with a costly illness

health plans don’t cover

or like so many of my students who are bullied to the point

they have nowhere to turn and no longer have knowledge

of their own name

No I never liked Diana Nyad

until one day I caught a clip of her on Ellen

I caught the part where she talked about her friendship

with Superman Christopher Reeve who in real life suffered

paralysis from the neck down.

He looked at her in later years after she’d retired from swimming

said he feared she wasn’t living her own dreams, that

she was an Olympian

And something about her conversations with him motivated her

to try again, to listen.

Maybe through her I saw the frayed ends of my own un-lived dreams,

my own fear that caused paralysis

And so by the end of that conversation with Ellen

where Diana talked about returning to her Olympic Self

by swimming from Cuba to Florida at age 60 challenging

every notion of what it means to be an athlete, a woman,

and the stereotypes of aging I was crying

by the time she looked into the camera and said

Never give up

Don’t ever give up on your dreams

 

http://www.lambdaliterary.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/nepantla.ajournal.pdf


Established in 1970, Glad Day Bookshop is the world’s oldest LGBTQ bookstore and Toronto’s oldest surviving bookstore. In 2012, a group of 23 community members pooled their funds and bought Glad Day Bookshop to save it from closing.

“Our best strategy for survival is adding new revenues streams like food and drink – which means a larger space.
We’ve picked out a great spot on Church Street that would allow us to be a bookstore & coffee shop during the day and a bar at night.
It is wheelchair accessible, with an accessible washroom.

It has a cute patio, a small space for performances and walls for art.

We will be a space where everyone feels welcome, sexy and celebrated.

We will be a queer-owned, indie place on Church Street. We will amplify the love, creativity, sexuality, diversity & liberation that Glad Day Bookshop is known for.”

LITTLE MAN AROUND THE HOUSE, Yusef Komunyakaa. Black History Month- poetry.

Image
LITTLE MAN AROUND THE HOUSE
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.