#Blacklivesmatter #Harlem Baby Cobina by Gladys May Casely Hayford

 

laluah

Baby Cobina

Brown Baby Cobina, with his large black velvet eyes,
His little coos of ecstacies, his gurgling of surprise,
With brass bells on his ankles, that laugh where’er he goes,
It’s so rare for bells to tinkle, above brown dimpled toes.

Brown Baby Cobina is so precious that we fear
Something might come and steal him, when we grown-ups are not near;
So we tied bells on his ankles, and kissed on them this charm —
” Bells, guard our Baby Cobina from all devils and all harm. ”

Gladys May Casely Hayford (Aquah LaLuah)

From: “Caroling Dusk: an Anthology of Verse by Black Poets.” Edited by Countee Cullen.

NEW and USED: Abebooks.com Caroling Dusk
NEW at independent bookstores NEAR you: Caroling Dusk

Other reading:

Wall, Cheryl. Women of the Harlem Renaissance. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1995.

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#OscarsSoWhite #Pulitzer Looking for Colour by Elizabeth Alexander

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11373118-essayAP Photo/Julie Jacobson, Gymnast Gabrielle Douglas (gold medal).

Today’s news
by Elizabeth Alexander

Composer of Barack Hussein Obama’s inauguration poem!
Professor of Poetry at Yale. Feminist!
Shortlisted for the Pulitzer Prize!

Heavyweight champion of the world Mike Tyson
broke his fist in the street brawl in Harlem
At three AM outside an all-night clothing store
where he was buying 800-dollar, white
leather coat. The other dude, on TV, said,
“It was a sucker punch.” Muhammad Ali said
Tyson ain’t pretty enough to be a heavyweight
champion of the world. Years ago a new Ali
threw his Olympic gold into the Ohio
River, said he’d get it when black people were truly
free in this country. In South Africa there is a dance
that says       we are fed up       we have no work    you have
struck a rock. I saw it on today’s news.

I didn’t want to write a poem that said “blackness
is,” because we know better than anyone
that we are not one or ten or ten thousand things
Not one poem      We could count ourselves forever
and never agree on the number. When the first
black Olympic gymnast was black and on TV I called
home to say it was colored on channel three
in nineteen eighty-eight. Most mornings these days
Ralph Edwards comes into the bedroom and says, “Elizabeth,
this is your life. Get up and look for color,
look for color everywhere.”

.

More to read at http://www.poetryfoundation.org/bio/elizabeth-alexander

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

2012 Summer Olympics, Tuesday, July 31, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

 

Jazzonia by Langston Hughes. “oh, silver rivers of the soul” #BlackLivesMatter #BlackHistoryYouDidntLearnInSchool #blackpoet

Jazzonia by Langston Hughes

Oh, silver tree!
Oh, shining rivers of the soul!

In a Harlem cabaret
Six long-headed jazzers play.
A dancing girl whose eyes are bold
Lifts high a dress of silken gold.

Oh, singing tree!
Oh, shining rivers of the soul!

Were Eve’s eyes
In the first garden
Just a bit too bold?
Was Cleopatra gorgeous
In a gown of gold?

Oh, shining tree!
Oh, silver rivers of the soul!

In a whirling cabaret
Six long-headed jazzers play.

 

.

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 international Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers!

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Lovely poetry by or about sex workers! The International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers is upon us! Yay!

By Su Xiaoxiao: a famous Chinese courtesan and poet, so beautiful poems were written about her for over 1500 years! Courtesans were trained as singers, dancers and poets in China. Haven’t found sex positive poems by english speakers yet.

Song of the Same Heartbeat:

I ride in a decorated carriage,
My darling rides a blue-white horse.
Where should we tie the knot for our heart?
Under the pine and cypress trees of Xiling.
.
By the later courtesan Liu Xiaoqing.
.
The carriage rumbles through the fragrent herbs of Xiling,
A message arrived from the inner quarters, inviting me to an outing.
I shed a cup of wine by myself on Su Xiaoxiao’s tomb,
Do you know that I am the one with the same feelings as you?
.
.
By Basho
.
Under the same roof
play girls were sleeping
bush clover and the moon
.
— His heart is touched by the soft light and the companionship. The Japanese had a number of names for sex workers. In this Haiku both intimacy and distance.
.
.
By Shiki
.
Lighting the lamps,
One shadow is for each
of the dolls
.
— The sex workers have each other, live in a house together and there is someone who cares for them and lights the lamps. One shadow means that they are each a person. He knows them, even if he can only see them when he takes care of them, even if they are too precious and high status for him to personally know.

Dolls had great status and import. Dolls were crafted for “household shrines, for formal gift-giving, or for festival celebrations such as Hinamatsuri, the doll festival.” Pilgrims would buy them as a memory of a temple visit or a journey.

 

Black poet Claude McKay writes about sex workers in Harlem, part of the poem shows McKay’s empathy.
You can read it as a wish to make life safer and better for sex workers doing their work.

I hear the halting footsteps of a lass
In Negro Harlem when the night lets fall
Its veil. I see the shapes of girls who pass
To bend and barter at desire’s call.
Ah, little dark girls who in slippered feet
Go prowling through the night from street to street!

Through the long night until the silver break
Of day the little gray feet know no rest;
Through the lone night until the last snowflake
Has dropped from heaven upon the earth’s white breast,
The dusky, half-clad girls of tired feet
Are trudging, thinly shod, from street to street.

[…]
Ah, heart of me, the weary, weary feet
In Harlem wandering from street to street.

Langston Hughes, Gwendolyn B. Bennett and Gladys May Casely Hayford: poems for #BlackOutFriday

‪#‎BlackOutFriday‬ poems.

Dream variation

To fling my arms wide
In some place of the sun,
To whirl and to dance
Till the white day is done.
Then rest at cool evening
Beneath a tall tree
While dark night comes on gently,
…Dark like me,—
That is my dream!

To fling my arms wide
In the face of the sun,
Dance! whirl! whirl!
Till the quick day is done.
Rest at pale evening. …
A talk, slim tree. …
Night coming tenderly
… Black like me.

Langston Hughes.

1955536

Photo: New York public Library, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.

Hatred

I shall hate you
Like a dart of singing steel
Shot through still air
At even-tide,
Or solemnly
As pines are sober
When they stand etched
Against the sky.
Hating you shall be a game
Played with cool hands
And slim fingers.
Your heart will yearn
For the lonely splendor
Of the pine tree
While rekindled fires
In my eyes
Shall wound you like swift arrows.
Memory will lay its hands
Upon your breast
And you will understand
My hatred.

Gwendolyn B. Bennett

 

laluah

Baby Cobina

Brown Baby Cobina, with his large black velvet eyes,
His little coos of ecstacies, his gurgling of surprise,
With brass bells on his ankles, that laugh where’er he goes,
It’s so rare for bells to tinkle, above brown dimpled toes.

Brown Baby Cobina is so precious that we fear
Something might come and steal him, when we grown-ups are not near;
So we tied bells on his ankles, and kissed on them this charm —
” Bells, guard our Baby Cobina from all devils and all harm. ”

Gladys May Casely Hayford (Aquah LaLuah)

From: “Caroling Dusk: an Anthology of Verse by Black Poets.” Edited by Countee Cullen.

NEW and USED: Abebooks.com Caroling Dusk
NEW at independent bookstores NEAR you: Caroling Dusk

Other reading:

Wall, Cheryl. Women of the Harlem Renaissance. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1995.

Lesbian Tenderness Alive Alive!

Fantasy

Gwendolyn Bennett
I sailed in my dreams to the Land of Night
Where you were the dusk-eyed queen,
And there in the pallor of moon-veiled light
The loveliest things were seen ...

A slim-necked peacock sauntered there
In a garden of lavender hues,
And you were strange with your purple hair
As you sat in your amethyst chair
With your feet in your hyacinth shoes.

Oh, the moon gave a bluish light
Through the trees in the land of dreams and night.
I stood behind a bush of yellow-green
And whistled a song to the dark-haired queen ...

 


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.”

James Baldwin- poet!!!

Lord,
            when you send the rain,
            think about it, please,
            a little?
     Do
            not get carried away
            by the sound of falling water,
            the marvelous light
            on the falling water.
        I
            am beneath that water.
            It falls with great force
            and the light
Blinds
            me to the light.
                   — Untitled