#BlackHistoryMonth #poem Tired by Fenton Johnson

Don’t read this when you’re tired or sad or have given up hope. This is a poem by a writer who is tired of the world we are still building together: a racist society. Ta-Nehissi Coates (he/him) and El Jones (she/her) aren’t  the only ones who feel hopeless.

Tired
I am tired of work; I am tired of building up somebody else’s civilization.
Let us take a rest, M’lissy Jane.

I will go down to the Last Chance Saloon, drink a gallon or two of gin, shoot a
game or two of dice and sleep the rest of the night on one of Mike’s barrells.

You will let the old shanty go to rot, the white people’s clothes turn to dust, and
the Cavalry Baptist Church sink to the bottomless pit.

You will spend your days forgetting you married me and your nights hunting the
warm gin Mike serves the ladies in the rear of the Last Chance Saloon.

Throw the children in the river; civilization has given us too many. It is better to die
than it is to grow up and find out that you are colored.

Pluck the stars out of the heavens. The stars mark our destiny. The stars mark my destiny.

I am tired of civilization.

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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

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Little Girl Talk by Delores S. Williams.

Little Girl Talk

my grampaw was a smooth black, way back then
before black discovered beautiful he was pretty.
he had pearlywhite teeth and a big moustache.
he useta skinny-out to the edge with a black-wax stick. on Sunday
he would pindown in his darkblue suit, wideblue tie.
white-stiff shirt, and hip-on down to the presbyterian church where he argued
over how to spend white folk’s mission money.

on weekdays: overalls. he worked in a factory.
until some white boss talked down to him. then he’d quit.
to another factory. talk union talk to negroes. get
laid off. on the way home buy me a big box of oran
kause i kalled iron ‘i-roan’.

my grampaw was all the kings i wanted to know. when
i was six. my grampaw was smart. didn’t
go to college. said white folks wouldn’t let’im.
but he worked algebra and trig and read gladstone’s law.
and science books. he used to tell us kids
there wasn’t no heaven.

my grampaw said i was the sugar in his coffee. yes indeed.
i remember my grampaw,

the day the siren screamed into our street ballgame
and stopped at our house, we kids, eight of us, scattered
into an uneven line across the street. we watched two
big, redneck, white men in white uniforms stuff my
pretty grampaw into something called a straitjacket,
crowd him into the back of their looney wagon, jump
into the front themselves and shriek-off into the distance.
my grammaw stood perfectly still. her proud eyes
looked deep and sore and hollow. my mother, unmoving, cried softly.
i, girl-boy-tom-tree-climber of 10, tried
not to feel anything. the tears that didn’t come swelled
to a tight fist in my chest

big, brave, girlboy me
shove the weight of my ten years
onto two flat feet,
strolled to the middle of the street
and yelled as loud as i could,
“throw the ball, shity!”
.          The game was on.

 

Delores S. Williams

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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

Hello Miss Pretty Bitch by Emily Yoon thru Poets Respond!!

Emily Yoon

HELLO MISS PRETTY BITCH

the street drummer
calls out in Korean
no doubt thinking it
a compliment
a pleasant surprise
cinched with red ribbons
for Christmas the day
select theatres will gift us
with The Interview
a comedy in which
two American journalists
ignite Kim Jong-un’s face
freedom has prevailed
the film’s star Seth Rogen
says about the release
the same was thought
at the time of Korea’s release
from the Japanese Empire
though then the Korean War
began and compared to war
what’s so bad about a movie
anyway even war can be funny
and now a drummer
in New York says
you got a smile 
that could light up
the whole town 
though I’m not smiling
thinking about villages
and cities of what became
North Korea set on fire
sending puddles of twilight
into sunless skies
as if flames could stab
but his freedom
of speech prevails
freedom always prevails
which is why we get to see
two Americans
incinerate a Korean face
on Christmas
hold our popcorn
and chocolate bars
and laugh as the dictator
explodes in tune
to a pop song
laugh as American
soldiers would laugh
at Korean children
chanting hello hello 
gibu me choco-let
with wartime hunger
laugh as they choose
which face
to light up

Poets Respond
December 28, 2014

Emily Yoon: 

“I wrote this poem as a reaction to how friends and acquaintances responded to the news, and how Seth Rogen Tweeted, ‘The people have spoken! Freedom has prevailed! […]’ on the film’s release. 

As a Korean-born person, it was always curious to me how many people in the US feel entitled to dehumanize North Korea 

and condemn North Korea-South Korea relations under the name of humour and freedom of speech, 

without enough awareness on the role of the US in the Korean War and the subsequent demarcation.”

SUBMIT your own poem: https://rattle.submittable.com/submit/30232

This poem has been published exclusively online as part of a new project in which poets respond to current events. A poem written within the last week about an event that occurred within the last week will appear every Sunday at Rattle.com. “

http://www.rattle.com/poetry/hello-miss-pretty-bitch-by-emily-yoon/

From: Citizen by Claudia Rankine

Rankine-Claudia-hr
Image Credit: CSU Fullerton
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CLAUDIA RANKINE co-edited the anthology American Women Poets in the 21st Century: Where Lyric Meets Language, and her work is included in several anthologies, including Great American Prose Poems: From Poe to the Present, Best American Poetry 2001, Giant Step: African American Writing at the Crossroads of the Century, and The Garden Thrives: Twentieth Century African-American Poetry. Her work has been published in numerous journals including Boston Review, TriQuarterly, and The Poetry Project Newsletter. She lives and teaches in California. She is the Holloway/Mixed Blood poet for the spring series.
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You are in the dark, in the car, watching the black-tarred street being swallowed by speed; he tells you his dean is making him hire a person of color when there are so many great writers out there.
/
You think maybe this is an experiment and you are being tested or retroactively insulted or you have done something that communicates this is an okay conversation to be having.
Why do you feel okay saying this to me? You wish the light would turn red or a police siren would go off so you could slam on the brakes, slam into the car ahead of you, be propelled forward so quickly both your faces would suddenly be exposed to the wind.
/
As usual you drive straight through the moment with the expected backing off of what was previously said. It is not only that confrontation is headache producing; it is also that you have a destination that doesn’t include acting like this moment isn’t inhabitable, hasn’t happened before, and the before isn’t part of the now as the night darkens 
and the time shortens between where we are and where we are going.
/
When you arrive in your driveway and turn off the car, you remain behind the wheel another ten minutes. You fear the night is being locked in and coded on a cellular level and want time to function as a power wash. Sitting there staring at the closed garage door you are reminded that a friend once told you there exists a medical term — John Henryism — for people exposed to stresses stemming from racism. They achieve themselves to death trying to dodge the build up of erasure. Sherman James, the researcher who came up with the term, claimed the physiological costs were high. You hope by sitting in 
silence you are bucking the trend.
/
When the stranger asks, Why do you care? you just stand there staring at him. He has just referred to the boisterous teenagers in Starbucks as niggers. Hey, I am standing right here, you responded, not necessarily expecting him to turn to you.
He is holding the lidded paper cup in one hand and a small paper bag in the other. They are just being kids. Come on, no need to get all KKK on them, you say.
Now there you go, he responds.
The people around you have turned away from their screens. The teenagers are on pause. There I go? you ask, feeling irritation begin to rain down. Yes, and something about hearing yourself repeating this stranger’s accusation in a voice usually reserved for your partner makes you smile.
/
A man knocked over her son in the subway. You feel your own body wince. He’s okay, but the son of a bitch kept walking. She says she grabbed the stranger’s arm and told him to apologize: I told him to look at the boy and apologize. And yes, you want it to stop, you want the black child pushed to the ground to be seen, to be helped to his feet and be brushed off, not brushed off  by the person that did not see him, has never seen him, has perhaps never seen anyone who is not a reflection of himself.
The beautiful thing is that a group of men began to stand behind me like a fleet of  bodyguards, she says, like newly found uncles and brothers.
/
The new therapist specializes in trauma counseling. You have only ever spoken on the phone. Her house has a side gate that leads to a back entrance she uses for patients. You walk down a path bordered on both sides with deer grass and rosemary to the gate, which turns out to be locked.
At the front door the bell is a small round disc that you press firmly. When the door finally opens, the woman standing there yells, at the top of her lungs, Get away from my house. What are you doing in my yard?
It’s as if a wounded Doberman pinscher or a German shepherd has gained the power of speech. And though you back up a few steps, you manage to tell her you have an appointment. You have an appointment? she spits back. Then she pauses. Everything pauses. Oh, she says, followed by, oh, yes, that’s right. I am sorry.
I am so sorry, so, so sorry.
/
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BUY!
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NEW from Independent bookstores: http://www.indiebound.org/book/9780819565471

For the love of words. And the freedom to love.

bettsxr-dwayne-betts

Photo by H. Darr Beiser. Photo by Rachel Eliza Griffiths!

About his being locked up as an “adult” as a 16 year old in a men’s prison.

dwayne-betts

Photo by Gesi Schilling.

“For you: anthophilous, lover of flowers”

BY REGINALD DWAYNE BETTS

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For you: anthophilous, lover of flowers,
green roses, chrysanthemums, lilies: retrophilia,
philocaly, philomath, sarcophilous—all this love,
of the past, of beauty, of knowledge, of flesh; this is
catalogue & counter: philalethist, negrophile, neophile.
A negro man walks down the street, taps Newport
out against a brick wall & stares at you. Love
that: lygophilia, lithophilous. Be amongst stones,
amongst darkness. We are glass house. Philopornist,
philotechnical. Why not worship the demimonde?
Love that—a corner room, whatever is not there,
all the clutter you keep secret. Palaeophile,
ornithophilous: you, antiquarian, pollinated by birds.
All this a way to dream green rose petals on the bed you love;
petrophilous, stigmatophilia: live near rocks, tattoo hurt;
for you topophilia: what place do you love? All these words
for love (for you), all these ways to say believe
in symphily, to say let us live near each other.
.
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About his being locked up as an “adult” as a 16 year old in a men’s prison.
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Tax cuts mean less time to read, fewer hours of access per month in the prison library- no they can’t go every day. Please.
Your tax cuts take humanity away from other persons.
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Your tax cuts mean no time for therapy, no time to prepare for the living world, no time to better yourself, no strength to stay away, no better neighbourhood to return to, no vote. No voice.
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And yes, everyone deserves to be heard, even if you sold coke or weed (that’s what the majority of black men are in prison for) or killed someone or defrauded thousands of people or paid your employees too little. They are people.
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You have done wrong. Everybody has skeletons. If you’ve done your time, you should be given all your rights back.
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Anyway.

Franny Choi: speaking about vaginas! Rebel mouth.

Vagina poem (I think) by spoken word poet Franny Choi. What are a vag’s ghost stories? What a poet.

Second Mouth
BY FRANNY CHOI

Other-lips whispering between my legs.
What they called black hole not-thing
is really packed full of secrets. A rebel mouth

testifying from the underside. Careful
not to let it speak too loudly. Only hum
demure in polite company—never laugh

or spit on the sidewalk or complain
lest we both be dragged under the wheels of
one of those. Or worse coddled

smiled at as at a lapdog acting wolf.
Or worse called ugly a cruel joke. Or—
there are always worse things.

Too many messengers shot. But then
who wouldn’t fear an eyeless face
whose ghost stories always come true?

http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/poem/247316

http://frannychoi.com/lit/

“Le sporting-club de Monte Carlo (for Lena Horne)” James Baldwin. Daughter of the thunder!!

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REX USA/Sten Rosenlund

Oh, I love these lines! G-d struts a little.

the lady is the apple
of God’s eye:
He’s cool enough about it
but He tends to strut a little
when she passes by

http://www.pugetsound.edu/news-and-events/campus-news/details/1097/

 

“Le sporting-club de Monte Carlo (for Lena Horne)”

The lady is a tramp

a camp
a lamp

The lady is a sight
a might
a light
the lady devastated
an alley or two
reverberated through the valley
which leads to me, and you

the lady is the apple
of God’s eye:
He’s cool enough about it
but He tends to strut a little
when she passes by

the lady is a wonder
daughter of the thunder
smashing cages
legislating rages
with the voice of ages
singing us through.