“The night is beautiful So the faces of my people.” Langston Hughes #ValentinesDay #BlackHistory

When you have to learn to love yourself and parts of yourself that others are afraid of. When they choose only to see the scary in the night, and don’t connect you with owls and the moon and the dark grays, blues, purples of the night. When they don’t think of the sounds of grass and the cats in the dark.

When you have to learn to see the beauty where powerful others don’t even *notice* that beauty in you. Because they don’t look at you, or can’t even imagine you can be beautiful like they are. Or because they are afraid of one thing about you and they don’t see all the other sides to you that are like theirs, that *can* be beautiful.

When you have to point to the biggest, brightest light and tell people to see you just like that. When you have to point out the kindness, love, strength, weakness, endurance, impatience, fun, heat and love of your soul.

“My People”

The night is beautiful
So the faces of my people

The stars are beautiful
So the eyes of my people

Beautiful, also, is the sun.
Beautiful, also, are the souls of my people.

Langston Hughes

 

My Black Me: A Beginning Book of Black Poetry (A Puffin Poetry Book)
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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.

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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.”

The Creation: “And God stepped out on space…” by James Weldon Johnson! Pretty fantastic.

RE-imagined poem by James Weldon Johnson. Still the same G-d, people. Beautiful images Weldon calls forth, as if he was there there- one of these poems that you can feel the amazing of our world, our trees, our rivers, our deer, our elephants, our woods and jungles… Unbelievably beautiful what we have to take care of. Care. Of. Read and weep.

And then give freely to the World Wild Life Fund and Green-Peace.

Quick thoughts on image:
“Toiling over a lump of clay
Till She shaped it in Her own image;”

God had to toil to make us into her image. Everyone who has worked with clay and has attempted to shape a human or any animal, knows how hard it is. You start out roughly, you add on, you take off, you squeeze, you pull a bit this way. That way. Making stars seems to have come to God easily. She threw the light against the darkness. With us, she had to think. What was important. She didn’t create us like the trees, or the rivers. Why would it be so hard to create an image of God? You have to understand yourself if you want to describe yourself. God had to think about what made her who she was. She could create, so she gave us that. We can make dark and light in our life. She gave us that choice. She gave us a smile. She gave us words. She knew she was lonely still and she made us look for others. She made us want community and love and closeness. She taught us how to kneel down and toil over what is important.

 

And God stepped out on space,
And She looked around and said,
“I’m lonely —
I’ll make me a world.”

And far as the eye of God could see
Darkness covered everything,
Blacker than a hundred midnights
Down in a cypress swamp.

Then God smiled,
And the light broke,
And the darkness rolled up on one side,
And the light stood shining on the other,
And God said, “That’s good!”

Then God reached out and took the light in Her hands,
And God rolled the light around in Her hands
Until She made the sun;
And She set that sun a-blazing in the heavens.
And the light that was left from making the sun
God gathered it up in a shining ball
And flung it against the darkness,
Spangling the night with the moon and stars.
Then down between
The darkness and the light
She hurled the world;
And God said, “That’s good!”

Then God herself stepped down —
And the sun was on Her right hand,
And the moon was on Her left;
The stars were clustered about Her head,
And the earth was under Her feet.
And God walked, and where She trod
Her footsteps hollowed the valleys out
And bulged the mountains up.

Then She stopped and looked and saw
That the earth was hot and barren.
So God stepped over to the edge of the world
And She spat out the seven seas;
She batted Her eyes, and the lightnings flashed;
She clapped Her hands, and the thunders rolled;
And the waters above the earth came down,
The cooling waters came down.

Then the green grass sprouted,
And the little red flowers blossomed,
The pine tree pointed her finger to the sky,
And the oak spread out her arms,
The lakes cuddled down in the hollows of the ground,
And the rivers ran down to the sea;
And God smiled again,
And the rainbow appeared,
And curled itself around Her shoulder.

Then God raised Her arm and She waved Her hand
Over the sea and over the land,
And She said, “Bring forth! Bring forth!”
And quicker than God could drop Her hand.
Fishes and fowls
And beasts and birds
Swam the rivers and the seas,
Roamed the forests and the woods,
And split the air with their wings.
And God said, “That’s good!”

Then God walked around,
And God looked around
On all that She had made.
She looked at Her sun,
And She looked at Her moon,
And She looked at Her little stars;
She looked on Her world
With all its living things,
And God said, “I’m lonely still.”

Then God sat down
On the side of a hill where She could think;
By a deep, wide river She sat down;
With Her head in Her hands,
God thought and thought,
Till She thought, “I’ll make me a body!”

Up from the bed of the river
God scooped the clay;
And by the bank of the river
She kneeled Her down;
And there the great God Almighty
Who lit the sun and fixed it in the sky,
Who flung the stars to the most far corner of the night,
Who rounded the earth in the middle of Her hand;
This Great God,
Like a mammy bending over her baby,
Kneeled down in the dust
Toiling over a lump of clay
Till She shaped it in Her own image;

Then into it She blew the breath of life,
And body became a living soul.
Amen. Amen.

James Weldon Johnson (1871-1938)

Whoohoo!!

Creation poem II (by Dutch ship’s doctor Jan Jacob Slauerhoff)

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.

 

SUPPORT planet Earth and all of our creatures:
For symbolic polar bear, penguin and Lion ADOPTIONS: http://shop.wwf.ca/collections/adoptions?gclid=CIv5rPS03MICFak-MgodfDoAlg

Monster Boats are gobbling up all the fish: it is NOT fair. Support local fishing-folk. http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/

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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.

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Other reading:

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

Countee Cullen: for my grandmother

cuc0003 allen_cullen

Countee Cullen, black poet.

For my grandmother

This lovely flower fell to seed;
Work gently sun and rain;
She held it as her dying creed
That she would grow again.

index

NYer, born in 1903, raised a strict methodist and turned pagan. NY university, Harvard. Published works “Color”, “The Ballad of the Brown Girl” and “Copper Sun”.

His greatest wish was to be read as a poet, not to be judged on the brown colour of his skin. I am pointing out they are black, because otherwise most people assume Countee Cullen was white. And everyone needs bright, shining examples, especially when their bodies are walked over, shot, fetishized, taken, used to scare and control and whitewashed and hidden– on a daily basis.

From the Dark Tower.

We shall not always plant while others reap
The golden increment of bursting fruit,
Not always countenance, abject and mute
That lesser men should hold their brothers cheap;
Not everlastingly while others sleep
Shall we beguile their limbs with mellow flute,
Not always bend to some more subtle brute;
We were not made eternally to weep.

The night whose sable breast relieves the stark
White stars is no less lovely being dark,
And there are buds that cannot bloom at all
In light, but crumple, piteous, and fall;
So in the dark we hide the heart that bleeds,
And wait, and tend our agonizing seeds.

Words can never hurt. Unless you hear them again and again.
The incident.

Once riding in old Baltimore,
Heart-filled, head-filled with glee,
I saw a Baltimorean
Keep looking straight at me.

Now I was eight and very small,
And he was no whit bigger,
And so I smiled, but he poked out
His tongue, and called me, ‘Nigger.’

I saw the whole of Baltimore
From May until December;
Of all the things that happened there
That’s all that I remember.

CullenYoungnPretty

 

 

From Caroling Dusk. See http://www.abebooks.com for your own copy!!

Robert Bly – Driving toward the Lac Qui Parle River

Car seats on porches, lamp light and a torn willow tree in an open field.

From “Contemporary American Poetry” (1962) these lovely, happy poems about solitude:

Driving toward the Lac Qui Parle River
BY ROBERT BLY
I
I am driving; it is dusk; Minnesota.
The stubble field catches the last growth of sun.
The soybeans are breathing on all sides.
Old men are sitting before their houses on car seats
In the small towns. I am happy,
The moon rising above the turkey sheds.
[…]
III
Nearly to Milan, suddenly a small bridge,
And water kneeling in the moonlight.
In small towns the houses are built right on the ground;
The lamplight falls on all fours on the grass.
When I reach the river, the full moon covers it.
A few people are talking, low, in a boat.

Hunting Pheasants in a Cornfield
BY ROBERT BLY
I
What is so strange about a tree alone in an open field?
It is a willow tree. I walk around and around it.
The body is strangely torn, and cannot leave it.
At last I sit down beneath it.

II
It is a willow tree alone in acres of dry corn.
Its leaves are scattered around its trunk, and around me,
Brown now, and speckled with delicate black.
Only the cornstalks now can make a noise.

The sun is cold, burning through the frosty distances of space.
The weeds are frozen to death long ago.
Why then do I love to watch
The sun moving on the chill skin of the branches?

[…]

Robert Bly, “Driving toward the Lac Qui Parle River” from Silence in the Snowy Fields (Middletown, Conn.: Wesleyan University Press, 1962). Copyright © 1962 by Robert Bly.

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Charles Bukowski- The Night I Was Going To Die.

The Night I Was Going To Die

Written by: Charles Bukowski

 
 the night I was going to die
I was sweating on the bed
and I could hear the crickets 
and there was a cat fight outside
and I could feel my soul dropping down through the 
mattress
and just before it hit the floor I jumped up
I was almost too weak to walk
but I walked around and turned on all the lights
and then I went back to bed
and dropped it down again and
I was up
turning on all the lights
I had a 7-year-old daughter
and I felt sure she wouldn't want me dead
otherwise it wouldn't have
mattered
but all that night
nobody phoned
nobody came by with a beer
my girlfriend didn't phone
all I could hear were the crickets and it was
hot
and I kept working at it
getting up and down
until the first of the sun came through the window
through the bushes
and then I got on the bed
and the soul stayed
inside at last and
I slept.
now people come by
beating on the doors and windows
the phone rings
the phone rings again and again
I get great letters in the mail
hate letters and love letters.
everything is the same again.

Chickens II: Those crazy silly most excellent chickens!

Last Night I Dreamed of Chickens

Last night I dreamed of chickens,
there were chickens everywhere,
they were standing on my stomach,
they were nesting in my hair,
they were pecking at my pillow,
they were hopping on my head,
they were ruffling up their feathers
as they raced about my bed.

They were on the chairs and tables,
they were on the chandeliers,
they were roosting in the corners,
they were clucking in my ears,
there were chickens, chickens, chickens
for as far as I could see…
when I woke today, I noticed
there were eggs on top of me.

Jack Prelutsky

Awake in a giant night… is where I am, Anne Waldman

Awake in a giant night
is where I am

Anne Waldman

 

More brilliant bits in that poem:

I look out the window, there is night
I sit in this lighted room knowing this night 

Night! Night! I wish you’d go so I could go
to the post office, the bank, the supermarket

Why aren’t they open at night? I wonder 
Then realize I’m not the only person who’s 
considered in the grand scope of daily living.

Bees. Yeats.

Listen to this. The bees!!!

The beauty of it makes your heart ache.

“…and live alone in the bee-loud glade…”

“…for peace comes dropping slow…”

Yeats. He doesn’t want to hear the noise of the city- yes.

“I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made:
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honeybee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the mourning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight’s all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet’s wings.

I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart’s core.”