On Behalf of America’s Native Sons

“Feeling the capacity to be,

to live,

to act,

to pour out the spirit of their souls into concrete and objective form with a high fervor born of their racial characteristics,

they glide through our complex civilization like wailing ghosts;

they spin like fiery planets lost from their orbits;

they wither and die like trees ripped from native soil.”

— excerpt from Book Three: Fate of Native Son by Richard Wright, 1940

Speak

Black women’s faces are so expressive because we have

always been perceived to be in the position of servants

meant to bow politely

and with aggressive humility

enjoy giving service to the man or woman above us

She’s not sassy because she wants to be

but because she has to be.

Because the sheer absurdity of other people’s realities encroaching on her ability to live freely necessitates comment even if she is not allowed to speak.

–A. Long

To Anonymous…

The larger picture is this: Brooklyn is a bitch built on turmoil

blood, black and white, has steeped into its foundation

that’s the legacy we fight over 

and churn the butter to claim

when you from here

I will always do better 

but I giggle through your attempt at trying to tell me my history

my grandfather was a blockbuster

blacktaxed

he stood on our porch with a shotgun in hand 

as they scribbled nigger across his domain

it was as real as the bricks and mortar I reside in my mixed neighborhood

seeing as how that wasn’t the point though. let me stay on message

thanks for reading, for being a critic

for caring enough about the consequences of your words and mine to blot out your name so I can impartially give you these facts

shoutout to the first of firsts and to dissenters in the ranks

The Lynching

His spirit is smoke ascended to high heaven.
His father, by the cruelest way of pain,
Had bidden him to his bosom once again;
The awful sin remained still unforgiven.
All night a bright and solitary star
(Perchance the one that ever guided him,
Yet gave him up at last to Fate’s wild whim)
Hung pitifully o’er the swinging char.
Day dawned, and soon the mixed crowds came to view
The ghastly body swaying in the sun:
The women thronged to look, but never a one
Showed sorrow in her eyes of steely blue;
And little lads, lynchers that were to be,
Danced round the dreadful thing in fiendish glee.

By Claude McKay, 1922

The Press

Hail the press, sword-arm of justice

once chosen for its resistance but the existence of fake news is a mass misconception because there has always been the fake and the real

since inception.

The black journalist, duplicitous in nature, was shut out of newsrooms

strung up by their necks 

literature spread that let the long-arm of the law snatch boys from their cribs

who fit the profile

The panther party persisted 

the so called Freedom Messengers

inciting revolutions with pens and passion

pantherp

What did the press and the president say of them then

the fake, the real. The red or the blue pill

John Henry’s Woman

my daddy’s name was john henry

my moms name was polly ann

he never sold crack 

but was a hard workin man who laid track in the subways

bent back like his people 

and when he died from all that 

he gave ma his legendary hammer

she had a slammer that was mean 

and took no shit from men, white brown or black

weary, she 

me and your daddy built this city

so you wouldn’t have to

now take this hammer 

and show’ em what you can do

 

 

Morning Song

Love set you going like a fat gold watch.
The midwife slapped your footsoles, and your bald cry
Took its place among the elements.
Our voices echo, magnifying your arrival.  New statue.
In a drafty museum, your nakedness
Shadows our safety.  We stand round blankly as walls.

I’m no more your mother
Than the cloud that distills a mirror to reflect its own slow
Effacement at the wind’s hand.

All night your moth-breath
Flickers among the flat pink roses.  I wake to listen:
A far sea moves in my ear.

One cry, and I stumble from bed, cow-heavy and floral
In my Victorian nightgown.
Your mouth opens clean as a cat’s.  The window square

Whitens and swallows its dull stars.  And now you try
Your handful of notes;
The clear vowels rise like balloons.

–By Sylvia Plath

Monet’s Waterlilies

Today as the news from Selma and Saigon
poisons the air like fallout,
I come again to see
the serene, great picture that I love.

Here space and time exist in light
the eye like the eye of faith believes.
The seen, the known
dissolve in iridescence, become
illusive flesh of light
that was not, was, forever is.

O light beheld as through refracting tears.
Here is the aura of that world
each of us has lost.
Here is the shadow of its joy

–by Robert Hayden