|Η ΜΑΥΡΗ ΑΝΑΓΕΝΝΗΣΗ ΚΑΙ Η ΗΧΩ ΤΗΣ—IV
Χειμερινό εξάμηνο 2015-16
CLAUDIUS FESTUS “CLAUDE” MCKAY (1889–1948)
After the Winter
Some day, when trees have shed their leaves
And against the morning’s white
The shivering birds beneath the eaves
Have sheltered for the night,
We’ll turn our faces southward, love,
Toward the summer isle
Where bamboos spire the shafted grove
And wide-mouthed orchids smile.
And we will seek the quiet hill
Where towers the cotton tree,
And leaps the laughing crystal rill,
And works the droning bee.
And we will build a cottage there
Beside an open glade,
With black-ribbed blue-bells blowing near,
And ferns that never fade.
Claude McKay, “After the Winter” from Claude McKay: Complete Poems. Published by University of Illinois Press. Copyright © 2004 by Claude McKay. Courtesy of the Literary Representative for the Works of Claude McKay, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations.
Although she feeds me bread of bitterness,
And sinks into my throat her tiger’s tooth,
Stealing my breath of life, I will confess
I love this cultured hell that tests my youth.
Her vigor flows like tides into my blood,
Giving me strength erect against her hate,
Her bigness sweeps my being like a flood.
Yet, as a rebel fronts a king in state,
I stand within her walls with not a shred
Of terror, malice, not a word of jeer.
Darkly I gaze into the days ahead,
And see her might and granite wonders there,
Beneath the touch of Time’s unerring hand,
Like priceless treasures sinking in the sand.
Claude McKay, "America" from Liberator (December 1921). Courtesy of the Literary Representative for the Works of Claude McKay, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tildeen Foundations. Source: Liberator (The Library of America, 1921)
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 snow-flake
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, stern harsh world, that in the wretched way
Of poverty, dishonor and disgrace,
Has pushed the timid little feet of clay,
The sacred brown feet of my fallen race!
Ah, heart of me, the weary, weary feet
In Harlem wandering from street to street.
If We Must Die
If we must die, let it not be like hogs
Hunted and penned in an inglorious spot,
While round us bark the mad and hungry dogs,
Making their mock at our accursèd lot.
If we must die, O let us nobly die,
So that our precious blood may not be shed
In vain; then even the monsters we defy
Shall be constrained to honor us though dead!
O kinsmen! we must meet the common foe!
Though far outnumbered let us show us brave,
And for their thousand blows deal one death-blow!
What though before us lies the open grave?
Like men we’ll face the murderous, cowardly pack,
Pressed to the wall, dying, but fighting back!
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.
Source: Harlem Shadows (Harcourt Brace and Company, 1922)
The Tropics in New York
Bananas ripe and green, and ginger-root,
Cocoa in pods and alligator pears,
And tangerines and mangoes and grape fruit,
Fit for the highest prize at parish fairs,
Set in the window, bringing memories
Of fruit-trees laden by low-singing rills,
And dewy dawns, and mystical blue skies
In benediction over nun-like hills.
My eyes grew dim, and I could no more gaze;
A wave of longing through my body swept,
And, hungry for the old, familiar ways,
I turned aside and bowed my head and wept.
The White City
I will not toy with it nor bend an inch.
Deep in the secret chambers of my heart
I muse my life-long hate, and without flinch
I bear it nobly as I live my part.
My being would be a skeleton, a shell,
If this dark Passion that fills my every mood,
And makes my heaven in the white world’s hell,
Did not forever feed me vital blood.
I see the mighty city through a mist—
The strident trains that speed the goaded mass,
The poles and spires and towers vapor-kissed,
The fortressed port through which the great ships pass,
The tides, the wharves, the dens I contemplate,
Are sweet like wanton loves because I hate.
Claude McKay, "The White City" from Liberator (October 1921). Courtesy of the Literary Representative for the Works of Claude McKay, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tildeen Foundations. Source: Liberator (The Library of America, 2004)
Joy in the Woods
There is joy in the woods just now,
The leaves are whispers of song,
And the birds make mirth on the bough
And music the whole day long,
And God! to dwell in the town
In these springlike summer days,
On my brow an unfading frown
And hate in my heart always—
A machine out of gear, aye, tired,
Yet forced to go on—for I’m hired.
Just forced to go on through fear,
For every day I must eat
And find ugly clothes to wear,
And bad shoes to hurt my feet
And a shelter for work-drugged sleep!
A mere drudge! but what can one do?
A man that’s a man cannot weep!
Suicide? A quitter? Oh, no!
But a slave should never grow tired,
Whom the masters have kindly hired.
But oh! for the woods, the flowers
Of natural, sweet perfume,
The heartening, summer showers
And the smiling shrubs in bloom,
Dust-free, dew-tinted at morn,
The fresh and life-giving air,
The billowing waves of corn
And the birds’ notes rich and clear:—
For a man-machine toil-tired
May crave beauty too—though he’s hired.
Claude McKay, “Joy in the Woods” from Claude McKay: Complete Poems. Published by University of Illinois Press. Copyright © 2004 by Claude McKay. Courtesy of the Literary Representative for the Works of Claude McKay, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations.
About me young careless feet
Linger along the garish street;
Above, a hundred shouting signs
Shed down their bright fantastic glow
Upon the merry crowd and lines
Of moving carriages below.
Oh wonderful is Broadway — only
My heart, my heart is lonely.
Desire naked, linked with Passion,
Goes trutting by in brazen fashion;
From playhouse, cabaret and inn
The rainbow lights of Broadway blaze
All gay without, all glad within;
As in a dream I stand and gaze
At Broadway, shining Broadway — only
My heart, my heart is lonely.
To clasp you now and feel your head close-pressed,
Scented and warm against my beating breast;
To whisper soft and quivering your name,
And drink the passion burning in your frame;
To lie at full length, taut, with cheek to cheek,
And tease your mouth with kisses till you speak
Love words, mad words, dream words, sweet senseless words,
Melodious like notes of mating birds;
To hear you ask if I shall love always,
And myself answer: Till the end of days;
To feel your easeful sigh of happiness
When on your trembling lips I murmur: Yes;
It is so sweet. We know it is not true.
What matters it? The night must shed her dew.
We know it is not true, but it is sweet—
The poem with this music is complete.
Claude McKay, "Romance" from Harlem Shadows: The Poems of Claude McKay (New York: Harcourt, 1922). Courtesy of the Literary Representative for the Works of Claude McKay, Schombourg Center for Research in Black Culture, The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tildeen Foundations.
Far down, down through the city’s great gaunt gut
The gray train rushing bears the weary wind;
In the packed cars the fans the crowd’s breath cut,
Leaving the sick and heavy air behind.
And pale-cheeked children seek the upper door
To give their summer jackets to the breeze;
Their laugh is swallowed in the deafening roar
Of captive wind that moans for fields and seas;
Seas cooling warm where native schooners drift
Through sleepy waters, while gulls wheel and sweep,
Waiting for windy waves the keels to lift
Lightly among the islands of the deep;
Islands of lofy palm trees blooming white
That led their perfume to the tropic sea,
Where fields lie idle in the dew-drenched night,
And the Trades float above them fresh and free.
Claude McKay, “Subway Wind” from Claude McKay: Complete Poems. Published by University of Illinois Press. Copyright © 2004 by Claude McKay. Courtesy of the Literary Representative for the Works of Claude McKay, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations.
The Snow Fairy
Throughout the afternoon I watched them there,
Snow-fairies falling, falling from the sky,
Whirling fantastic in the misty air,
Contending fierce for space supremacy.
And they flew down a mightier force at night,
As though in heaven there was revolt and riot,
And they, frail things had taken panic flight
Down to the calm earth seeking peace and quiet.
I went to bed and rose at early dawn
To see them huddled together in a heap,
Each merged into the other upon the lawn,
Worn out by the sharp struggle, fast asleep.
The sun shone brightly on them half the day,
By night they stealthily had stol’n away.
And suddenly my thoughts then turned to you
Who came to me upon a winter’s night,
When snow-sprites round my attic window flew,
Your hair disheveled, eyes aglow with light.
My heart was like the weather when you came,
The wanton winds were blowing loud and long;
But you, with joy and passion all aflame,
You danced and sang a lilting summer song.
I made room for you in my little bed,
Took covers from the closet fresh and warm,
A downful pillow for your scented head,
And lay down with you resting in my arm.
You went with Dawn. You left me ere the day,
The lonely actor of a dreamy play.
Source: Harlem Shadows (1922)
Last night I heard your voice, mother,
The words you sang to me
When I, a little barefoot boy,
Knelt down against your knee.
And tears gushed from my heart, mother,
And passed beyond its wall,
But though the fountain reached my throat
The drops refused to fall.
'Tis ten years since you died, mother,
Just ten dark years of pain,
And oh, I only wish that I
Could weep just once again.
Oh when I think of my long-suffering race,
For weary centuries despised, oppressed,
Enslaved and lynched, denied a human place
In the great life line of the Christian West;
And in the Black Land disinherited,
Robbed in the ancient country of its birth,
My heart grows sick with hate, becomes as lead,
For this my race that has no home on earth.
Then from the dark depths of my soul I cry
To the avenging angel to consume
The white man's world of wonders utterly:
Let it be swallowed up in earth's vast womb,
Or upward roll as sacrificial smoke
To liberate my people from its yoke!
I would be wandering in distant fields
Where man, and bird, and beast, lives leisurely,
And the old earth is kind, and ever yields
Her goodly gifts to all her children free;
Where life is fairer, lighter, less demanding,
And boys and girls have time and space for play
Before they come to years of understanding--
Somewhere I would be singing, far away.
For life is greater than the thousand wars
Men wage for it in their insatiate lust,
And will remain like the eternal stars,
When all that shines to-day is drift and dust
But I am bound with you in your mean graves,
O black men, simple slaves of ruthless slaves.
All night, through the eternity of night,
Pain was my potion though I could not feel.
Deep in my humbled heart you ground your heel,
Till I was reft of even my inner light,
Till reason from my mind had taken flight,
And all my world went whirling in a reel.
And all my swarthy strength turned cold like steel,
A passive mass beneath your puny might.
Last night I gave you triumph over me,
So I should be myself as once before,
I marveled at your shallow mystery,
And haunted hungrily your temple door.
I gave you sum and substance to be free,
Oh, you shall never triumph any more!
I do not fear to face the fact and say,
How darkly-dull my living hours have grown,
My wounded heart sinks heavier than stone,
Because I loved you longer than a day!
I do not shame to turn myself away
From beckoning flowers beautifully blown,
To mourn your vivid memory alone
In mountain fastnesses austerely gray.
The mists will shroud me on the utter height,
The salty, brimming waters of my breast
Will mingle with the fresh dews of the night
To bathe my spirit hankering to rest.
But after sleep I'll wake with greater might,
Once more to venture on the eternal quest.
A Red Flower
Your lips are like a southern lily red,
Wet with the soft rain-kisses of the night,
In which the brown bee buries deep its head,
When still the dawn's a silver sea of light.
Your lips betray the secret of your soul,
The dark delicious essence that is you,
A mystery of life, the flaming goal
I seek through mazy pathways strange and new.
Your lips are the red symbol of a dream,
What visions of warm lilies they impart,
That line the green bank of a fair blue stream,
With butterflies and bees close to each heart!
Brown bees that murmur sounds of music rare,
That softly fall upon the langourous breeze,
Wafting them gently on the quiet air
Among untended avenues of trees.
O were I hovering, a bee, to probe
Deep down within your scented heart, fair flower,
Enfolded by your soft vermilion robe,
Amorous of sweets, for but one perfect hour!
AMIRI BARAKA (EVERETT LEROI JONES) (1934-2014)
An Agony. As Now.
I am inside someone
who hates me. I look
out from his eyes. Smell
what fouled tunes come in
to his breath. Love his
Slits in the metal, for sun. Where
my eyes sit turning, at the cool air
the glance of light, or hard flesh
rubbed against me, a woman, a man,
without shadow, or voice, or meaning.
This is the enclosure (flesh,
where innocence is a weapon. An
abstraction. Touch. (Not mine.
Or yours, if you are the soul I had
and abandoned when I was blind and had
my enemies carry me as a dead man
(if he is beautiful, or pitied.
It can be pain. (As now, as all his
flesh hurts me.) It can be that. Or
pain. As when she ran from me into
Or pain, the mind
silver spiraled whirled against the
sun, higher than even old men thought
God would be. Or pain. And the other. The
yes. (Inside his books, his fingers. They
are withered yellow flowers and were never
beautiful.) The yes. You will, lost soul, say
‘beauty.’ Beauty, practiced, as the tree. The
slow river. A white sun in its wet sentences.
Or, the cold men in their gale. Ecstasy. Flesh
or soul. The yes. (Their robes blown. Their bowls
empty. They chant at my heels, not at yours.) Flesh
or soul, as corrupt. Where the answer moves too quickly.
Where the God is a self, after all.)
Cold air blown through narrow blind eyes. Flesh,
white hot metal. Glows as the day with its sun.
It is a human love, I live inside. A bony skeleton
you recognize as words or simple feeling.
But it has no feeling. As the metal, is hot, it is not,
given to love.
It burns the thing
inside it. And that thing
Amiri Baraka, “An Agony. As Now.” from The Dead Lecturer. Copyright © 1964 by Amiri Baraka. Reprinted by permission of SLL/Sterling Lord Literistic, Inc. Source: The Dead Lecturer (Grove/Atlantic Inc., 1964)
Preface to a Twenty Volume Suicide Note
for Kellie Jones, born 16 May 1959
Lately, I've become accustomed to the way
The ground opens up and envelopes me
Each time I go out to walk the dog.
Or the broad edged silly music the wind
Makes when I run for a bus...
Things have come to that.
And now, each night I count the stars,
And each night I get the same number.
And when they will not come to be counted,
I count the holes they leave.
Nobody sings anymore.
And then last night, I tiptoed up
To my daughter's room and heard her
Talking to someone, and when I opened
The door, there was no one there...
Only she on her knees, peeking into
Her own clasped hands.
“Preface to a Twenty Volume Suicide Note” from Preface to a Twenty Volume Suicide Note (1961), reprinted in S O S: POEMS, 1961-2013 © 2014 by The Estate of Amiri Baraka; collection edited by Paul Vangelisti; recorded with the permission of the publisher, Grove Press, an imprint of Grove Atlantic, Inc. Previously published in Transbluesency: The Selected Poetry of Amiri Baraka/LeRoi Jones (1961-1995) by Marsilio Publishers, 1995. Source: S O S: Poems, 1961-2013 (Grove/Atlantic Inc., 2015)
Short Speech to My Friends
A political art, let it be
tenderness, low strings the fingers
touch, or the width of autumn
climbing wider avenues, among the virtue
and dignity of knowing what city
you’re in, who to talk to, what clothes
—even what buttons—to wear. I address
/ the society
the image, of
/ The perversity
of separation, isolation,
after so many years of trying to enter their kingdoms,
now they suffer in tears, these others, saxophones whining
through the wooden doors of their less than gracious homes.
The poor have become our creators. The black. The thoroughly
Let the combination of morality
Is power, the enemy? (Destroyer
of dawns, cool flesh of valentines, among
the radios, pauses, drunks
of the 19th century. I see it,
as any man's single history. All the possible heroes
dead from heat exhaustion
at the beach
or hiding for years from cameras
only to die cheaply in the pages
of our daily lie.
has pretensions toward literature
one toward the cultivation of errors, arrogance,
and constantly changing disguises, as trucker, boxer,
valet, barkeep, in the aging taverns of memory. Making love
to those speedy heroines of masturbation or kicking literal evil
continually down filmy public stairs.
would be silence. To shut up, even such risk
as the proper placement
of verbs and nouns. To freeze the spit
in mid-air, as it aims itself
at some valiant intellectual's face.
There would be someone
who would understand, for whatever
fancy reason. Dead, lying, Roi, as your children
cane up, would also rise. As George Armstrong Custer
these 100 years, has never made
“Short Speech to My Friends” from The Dead Lecturer (1964), reprinted in S O S: POEMS, 1961-2013 © 2014 by The Estate of Amiri Baraka; collection edited by Paul Vangelisti; recorded with the permission of the publisher, Grove Press, an imprint of Grove Atlantic, Inc. Previously published in Transbluesency: The Selected Poetry of Amiri Baraka/LeRoi Jones (1961-1995) by Marsilio Publishers, 1995. Source: S O S: Poems, 1961-2013 (Grove/Atlantic Inc., 2015)
The gaunt thing
with no organs
creeps along the streets
of Europe, she will
commute, in her feathered bat stomach-gown
with no organs
with sores on her insides
even her head
a vast puschamber
of pus(sy) memories
with no organs
nothing to make babies
she will be the great witch of euro-american legend
who sucked the life
from some unknown nigger
whose name will be known
but whose substance will not ever
not even by him
who is dead in a pile of dopeskin
This bitch killed a friend of mine named Bob Thompson
a black painter, a giant, once, she reduced
to a pitiful imitation faggot
full of American holes and a monkey on his back
from the empire state building
May this bitch and her sisters, all of them,
receive my words
in all their orifices like lye mixed with
cocola and alaga syrup
feel this shit, bitches, feel it, now laugh your
while your flesh burns
and your eyes peel to red mud
Amiri Baraka, “Babylon Revisited” from Black Magic (Indianapolis: The Bobbs-Merrill Company, 1969). Copyright © 1969 by Amiri Baraka. Reprinted with the permission of Sll/Sterling Lord Literistic, Inc.
WHYS (Nobody Knows
The Trouble I Seen)
If you ever find
yourself, some where
lost and surrounded
who won't let you
speak in your own language
who destroy your statues
& instruments, who ban
your omm bomm ba boom
then you are in trouble
they ban your
own boom ba boom
you in deep deep
probably take you several hundred years
Poems are bullshit unless they are
teeth or trees or lemons piled
on a step. Or black ladies dying
of men leaving nickel hearts
beating them down. Fuck poems
and they are useful, wd they shoot
come at you, love what you are,
breathe like wrestlers, or shudder
strangely after pissing. We want live
words of the hip world live flesh &
coursing blood. Hearts Brains
Souls splintering fire. We want poems
like fists beating niggers out of Jocks
or dagger poems in the slimy bellies
of the owner-jews. Black poems to
smear on girdlemamma mulatto bitches
whose brains are red jelly stuck
between 'lizabeth taylor's toes. Stinking
Whores! we want "poems that kill."
Assassin poems, Poems that shoot
guns. Poems that wrestle cops into alleys
and take their weapons leaving them dead
with tongues pulled out and sent to Ireland. Knockoff
poems for dope selling wops or slick halfwhite
politicians Airplane poems, rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr
rrrrrrrrrrrrrrr . . .tuhtuhtuhtuhtuhtuhtuhtuhtuhtuh
. . .rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr . . . Setting fire and death to
whities ass. Look at the Liberal
Spokesman for the jews clutch his throat
& puke himself into eternity . . . rrrrrrrr
There's a negroleader pinned to
a bar stool in Sardi's eyeballs melting
in hot flame Another negroleader
on the steps of the white house one
kneeling between the sheriff's thighs
negotiating coolly for his people.
Aggh . . . stumbles across the room . . .
Put it on him, poem. Strip him naked
to the world! Another bad poem cracking
steel knuckles in a jewlady's mouth
Poem scream poison gas on beasts in green berets
Clean out the world for virtue and love,
Let there be no love poems written
until love can exist freely and
cleanly. Let Black people understand
that they are the lovers and the sons
of warriors and sons
of warriors Are poems & poets &
all the loveliness here in the world
We want a black poem. And a
Let the world be a Black Poem
And Let All Black People Speak This Poem
Source: Selected Poetry of Amiri Baraka/LeRoi Jones (1979)
Death Is Not As Natural As You Fags Seem to Think
the black puritan.
in dull tones
of another forest.
Respecter of power. That it transform, and enlarge
Hierarchy crawls over earth (change exalting space
Dried mud to mountain, cape and whip, swirled
Walkers, and riders and flyers.
Language spread into darkness. Be Vowel
Rather the lust of the thing
than across to droop at its energies. In melted snows
the leather cracks, and pure men claw at their bodies.
Women laugh delicately, delicately rubbing their thighs.
And the dead king laughs, looking out the hole
in his tomb. Seeing the poor
singing his evil songs.
Amiri Baraka, “Death Is Not As Natural As You Fags Seem to Think” from Transbluesency: The Selected Poems of Amiri Baraka/LeRoi Jones, 1961-1995 (New York: Marsilio Publishers, 1995). Copyright © 1995 by Amiri Baraka. Reprinted with the permission of Sll/Sterling Lord Literistic, Inc.
uuuuuuuuuu uuu ray light morning fire lynch yet
uuuuuuu, yester-pain in dreams
comes again. race-pain, people our people
everywhere . . . yeh . . . uuuuu, yeh
uuuuuu, yeh uuuuu, most people
yester-pain, and pain today
(Screams) ooowow! ooowow! It must be
(jumps up like a claw stuck him) oooo
wow! oooowow! (screams)
It must be the devil
It must be the devil
it must be the devil
(shakes like evangelical sanctify
shakes tambourine like evangelical sanctify
ooowow! ooowow! yeh, devil, yeh, devil
Must be the devil must be the devil
(waves plate like collection) mus is mus is
mus is be the devil, cain be rockefeller
up batting, and jumping all the way around
to face the
other direction) caint be him, no lawd
aint be dupont, no lawd, cain be, no lawd,
noway, naw saw, no way jose — cain be
them rich folks
theys good to us theys good to us theys
good to us theys
good to us theys good to us, i know, the
massa tolt me
so, i seed it on channel 7, i seed it on
channel 9 i seed
it on channel 4 and 2 and 5. Rich folks
good to us
poor folks aint shit, hallelujah, hallelujah,
must be the devil, going to heaven after i
die, after we die
everything going to be different, after we die
we aint gon be
hungry, ain gon be pain, ain gon be sufferin
wont go thru this
again, after we die, after we die owooo!
after we die, its all gonna be good, have all
the money we
need after we die, have all the food we
need after we die
have a nice house like the rich folks, after
we die, after we die, after we
die, we can live like rev ike, after we die,
hallelujah, hallelujah, must be
the devil, it ain capitalism, it aint capitalism,
it aint capitalism,
naw it aint that, jimmy carter wdnt lie,
“lifes unfair” but it aint capitalism
must be the devil, owow! it ain the police,
jimmy carter wdnt lie, you
know rosalynn wdnt not lillian, his
drunken racist brother aint no reflection
on jimmy, must be the devil got in im, i tell
you, the devil killed malcolm
and dr king too, even killed both kennedies,
and pablo neruda and overthrew
allende’s govt. killed lumumba, and is
negotiating with step and fetchit,
sleep n eat and birmingham, over there in
“Rhodesia”, goin’ under the name
ian smith, must be the devil, caint be vortser,
caint be apartheid, caint
be imperialism, jimmy carter wdnt lie, didnt
you hear him say in his state
of the union message, i swear on rosalynn’s
face-lifted catatonia, i wdnt lie
nixon lied, haldeman lied, dean lied, hoover
lied hoover sucked (dicks) too
but jimmy dont, jimmy wdnt jimmy aint lying,
must be the devil, put yr
money on the plate, must be the devil, in
heaven we’all all be straight
cain be rockefeller, he gave amos pootbootie a
scholarship to Behavior
Modification Univ, and Genevieve Almoswhite
works for his foundation
Must be niggers! Cain be Mellon, he gave
Winky Suckass, a fellowship in
his bank put him in charge of closing out
mortgages in the lowlife
Pittsburgh Hill nigger section, caint be him.
(Goes on babbling, and wailing, jerking
in pathocrazy grin stupor)
Yessuh, yessuh, yessuh, yessuh, yessuh, yes-
suh, yessuh, yessuh, yessuh, yessuh,
put yr money in the plate, dont be late, dont
have to wait, you gonna be in
heaven after you die, you gon get all you need
once you gone, yessuh, i heard
it on the jeffersons, i heard it on the rookies,
I swallowed it
whole on roots: wasn’t it nice slavery was so
all you had to do was wear derbies and vests
and train chickens and buy your
way free if you had a mind to, must be the
devil, wasnt no white folks,
lazy niggers chained theyselves and threw
they own black asses in the bottom
of the boats, [(well now that you mention it King
Assblackuwasi helped throw yr ass in
the bottom of the boat, yo mamma, wife, and
you never seed em no more)] must
a been the devil, gimme your money put your
money on this plate, heaven be here soon,
just got to die, just got to stop living, close yr
breathin and bammm-O heaven be here, you
have all a what you need, Bam-O
all a sudden, heaven be here, you have all you
need, that assembly line
you work on will dissolve in thin air owowoo!
owowoo! Just gotta die
just gotta die, this ol world aint nuthin, must be
the devil got you
thinkin so, it cain be rockefeller, it cain be mor-
gan, it caint be capitalism
it caint be national oppression owow! No Way!
Now go back to work and cool
it, go back to work and lay back, just a little
while longer till you pass
its all gonna be alright once you gone. gimme
that last bitta silver you got
stashed there sister, gimme that dust now broth-
er man, itll be ok on the
other side, yo soul be clean be washed pure
white. yes. yes. yes. owow.
now go back to work, go to sleep, yes, go to
sleep, go back to work, yes
owow. owow. uuuuuuuuuu, uuuuuuuuuuu,
uuuuuuuuuuu. yes, uuuuuuu. yes.
Source: The LeRoi Jones/Amiri Baraka Reader (Basic Books, 2009)
He came back and shot. He shot him. When he came
back, he shot, and he fell, stumbling, past the
shadow wood, down, shot, dying, dead, to full halt.
At the bottom, bleeding, shot dead. He died then, there
after the fall, the speeding bullet, tore his face
and blood sprayed fine over the killer and the grey light.
Pictures of the dead man, are everywhere. And his spirit
sucks up the light. But he died in darkness darker than
his soul and everything tumbled blindly with him dying
down the stairs.
We have no word
on the killer, except he came back, from somewhere
to do what he did. And shot only once into his victim's
stare, and left him quickly when the blood ran out. We know
the killer was skillful, quick, and silent, and that the victim
probably knew him. Other than that, aside from the caked sourness
of the dead man's expression, and the cool surprise in the fixture
of his hands and fingers, we know nothing.
Amiri Baraka, “Incident” from Black Magic (Indianapolis: The Bobbs-Merrill Company, 1969). Copyright © 1969 by Amiri Baraka. Reprinted with the permission of Sll/Sterling Lord Literistic.
(For Blues People)
In the south, sleeping against
the drugstore, growling under
the trucks and stoves, stumbling
through and over the cluttered eyes
of early mysterious night. Frowning
drunk waving moving a hand or lash.
Dancing kneeling reaching out, letting
a hand rest in shadows. Squatting
to drink or pee. Stretching to climb
pulling themselves onto horses near
where there was sea (the old songs
lead you to believe). Riding out
from this town, to another, where
it is also black. Down a road
where people are asleep. Towards
the moon or the shadows of houses.
Towards the songs’ pretended sea.
Amiri Baraka, “Legacy” from Black Magic (Indianapolis: The Bobbs-Merrill Company, 1969). Copyright © 1969 by Amiri Baraka. Reprinted with the permission of Sll/Sterling Lord Literistic,
11. Like Rousseau
She stands beside me, stands away,
the vague indifference
of her dreams. Dreaming, to go on,
and go on there, like animals fleeing
the rise of the earth. But standing
intangible, my lust a worked anger
a sweating close covering, for the crudely salty soul.
Then back off, and where you go? Box of words
and pictures. Steel balloons tied to our mouths.
The room fills up, and the house. Street tilts.
City slides, and buildings slide into the river.
What is there left, to destroy? That is not close,
or closer. Leaning away in the angle of language.
Pumping and pumping, all our eyes criss cross
and flash. It is the lovers pulling down empty structures.
They wait and touch and watch their dreams
eat the morning.
Amiri Baraka (LeRoi Jones), “Like Rousseau” from Poetry (December 1964). Copyright © 1964 by Amiri Baraka. Reprinted with the permission of Sll/Sterling Lord Literistic, Inc.
12. Political Poem
Luxury, then, is a way of
being ignorant, comfortably
An approach to the open market
of least information. Where theories
can thrive, under heavy tarpaulins
without being cracked by ideas.
(I have not seen the earth for years
and think now possibly “dirt” is
negative, positive, but clearly
social. I cannot plant a seed, cannot
recognize the root with clearer dent
than indifference. Though I eat
and shit as a natural man ( Getting up
from the desk to secure a turkey sandwich
and answer the phone: the poem undone
undone by my station, by my station,
and the bad words of Newark.) Raised up
to the breech, we seek to fill for this
crumbling century. The darkness of love,
in whose sweating memory all error is forced.
Undone by the logic of any specific death. (Old gentlemen
who still follow fires, tho are quieter
and less punctual. It is a polite truth
we are left with. Who are you? What are you
saying? Something to be dealt with, as easily.
The noxious game of reason, saying, “No, No,
you cannot feel,” like my dead lecturer
lamenting thru gipsies his fast suicide.
Amiri Baraka, “Political Poem” from Transbluesency: The Selected Poems of Amiri Baraka/LeRoi Jones, 1961-1995 (New York: Marsilio Publishers, 1995). Copyright © 1995 by Amiri Baraka. Reprinted with the permission of Sll/Sterling Lord Literistic, Inc.
That force is lost
which shaped me, spent
in its image, battered, an old brown thing
swept off the streets
where it sucked its
And what is meat
to do, that is driven to its end
by words? The frailest gestures
grow like skirts around breathing.
unholy risks to prove
we are what we cannot be. For instance,
I am not even crazy.
"A closed window looks down
on a dirty courtyard, and Black people
call across or scream across or walk across
defying physics in the stream of their will.
Our world is full of sound
Our world is more lovely than anyone's
tho we suffer, and kill each other
and sometimes fail to walk the air.
We are beautiful people
With African imaginations
full of masks and dances and swelling chants
with African eyes, and noses, and arms
tho we sprawl in gray chains in a place
full of winters, when what we want is sun.
We have been captured,
and we labor to make our getaway, into
the ancient image; into a new
Correspondence with ourselves
and our Black family. We need magic
now we need the spells, to raise up
return, destroy,and create. What will be
the sacred word?
15. Somebody Blew Up America
They say its some terrorist, some barbaric A Rab, in Afghanistan It wasn’t our American terrorists It wasn’t the Klan or the Skin heads Or the them that blows up nigger Churches, or reincarnates us on Death Row It wasn’t Trent Lott Or David Duke or Giuliani Or Schundler, Helms retiring
It wasn’t The gonorrhea in costume The white sheet diseases That have murdered black people Terrorized reason and sanity Most of humanity, as they pleases
They say (who say?) Who do the saying Who is them paying Who tell the lies Who in disguise Who had the slaves Who got the bux out the Bucks
Who got fat from plantations Who genocided Indians Tried to waste the Black nation
Who live on Wall Street The first plantation Who cut your nuts off Who rape your ma Who lynched your pa
Who got the tar, who got the feathers Who had the match, who set the fires Who killed and hired Who say they God & still be the Devil
Who the biggest only Who the most goodest Who do Jesus resemble
Who created everything Who the smartest Who the greatest Who the richest Who say you ugly and they the goodlookingest
Who define art Who define science
Who made the bombs Who made the guns
Who bought the slaves, who sold them
Who called you them names Who say Dahmer wasn’t insane
Who? Who? Who?
Who stole Puerto Rico Who stole the Indies, the Philipines, Manhattan Australia & The Hebrides Who forced opium on the Chinese
Who own them buildings Who got the money Who think you funny Who locked you up Who own the papers
Who owned the slave ship Who run the army
Who the fake president Who the ruler Who the banker
Who? Who? Who?
Who own the mine Who twist your mind Who got bread Who need peace Who you think need war
Who own the oil Who do no toil Who own the soil Who is not a nigger Who is so great ain’t nobody bigger
Who own this city
Who own the air Who own the water
Who own your crib Who rob and steal and cheat and murder and make lies the truth Who call you uncouth
Who live in the biggest house Who do the biggest crime Who go on vacation anytime
Who killed the most niggers Who killed the most Jews Who killed the most Italians Who killed the most Irish Who killed the most Africans Who killed the most Japanese Who killed the most Latinos
Who? Who? Who?
Who own the ocean
Who own the airplanes Who own the malls Who own television Who own radio
Who own what ain’t even known to be owned Who own the owners that ain’t the real owners
Who own the suburbs Who suck the cities Who make the laws
Who made Bush president Who believe the confederate flag need to be flying Who talk about democracy and be lying
Who the Beast in Revelations Who 666 Who know who decide Jesus get crucified
Who the Devil on the real side Who got rich from Armenian genocide
Who the biggest terrorist Who change the bible Who killed the most people Who do the most evil Who don’t worry about survival
Who have the colonies Who stole the most land Who rule the world Who say they good but only do evil Who the biggest executioner
Who? Who? Who?
Who own the oil Who want more oil Who told you what you think that later you find out a lie
Who? Who? Who?
Who found Bin Laden, maybe they Satan Who pay the CIA, Who knew the bomb was gonna blow Who know why the terrorists Learned to fly in Florida, San Diego
Who know why Five Israelis was filming the explosion And cracking they sides at the notion
Who need fossil fuel when the sun ain’t goin’ nowhere
Who make the credit cards Who get the biggest tax cut Who walked out of the Conference Against Racism Who killed Malcolm, Kennedy & his Brother Who killed Dr King, Who would want such a thing? Are they linked to the murder of Lincoln?
Who invaded Grenada Who made money from apartheid Who keep the Irish a colony Who overthrow Chile and Nicaragua later
Who killed David Sibeko, Chris Hani, the same ones who killed Biko, Cabral, Neruda, Allende, Che Guevara, Sandino,
Who killed Kabila, the ones who wasted Lumumba, Mondlane, Betty Shabazz, Die, Princess Di, Ralph Featherstone, Little Bobby
Who locked up Mandela, Dhoruba, Geronimo, Assata, Mumia, Garvey, Dashiell Hammett, Alphaeus Hutton
Who killed Huey Newton, Fred Hampton, Medgar Evers, Mikey Smith, Walter Rodney, Was it the ones who tried to poison Fidel Who tried to keep the Vietnamese Oppressed
Who put a price on Lenin’s head
Who put the Jews in ovens, and who helped them do it Who said “America First” and ok’d the yellow stars
Who killed Rosa Luxembourg, Liebneckt Who murdered the Rosenbergs And all the good people iced, tortured, assassinated, vanished
Who got rich from Algeria, Libya, Haiti, Iran, Iraq, Saudi, Kuwait, Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, Jordan, Palestine,
Who cut off peoples hands in the Congo Who invented Aids Who put the germs In the Indians’ blankets Who thought up “The Trail of Tears”
Who blew up the Maine & started the Spanish American War Who got Sharon back in Power Who backed Batista, Hitler, Bilbo, Chiang kai Chek
Who decided Affirmative Action had to go Reconstruction, The New Deal, The New Frontier, The Great Society,
Who do Tom Ass Clarence Work for Who doo doo come out the Colon’s mouth Who know what kind of Skeeza is a Condoleeza Who pay Connelly to be a wooden negro Who give Genius Awards to Homo Locus Subsidere
Who overthrew Nkrumah, Bishop, Who poison Robeson, who try to put DuBois in Jail Who frame Rap Jamil al Amin, Who frame the Rosenbergs, Garvey, The Scottsboro Boys, The Hollywood Ten
Who set the Reichstag Fire
Who knew the World Trade Center was gonna get bombed Who told 4000 Israeli workers at the Twin Towers To stay home that day Why did Sharon stay away?
Who? Who? Who?
Explosion of Owl the newspaper say The devil face cd be seen
Who make money from war Who make dough from fear and lies Who want the world like it is Who want the world to be ruled by imperialism and national oppression and terror violence, and hunger and poverty.
Who is the ruler of Hell? Who is the most powerful
Who you know ever Seen God?
But everybody seen The Devil
Like an Owl exploding In your life in your brain in your self Like an Owl who know the devil All night, all day if you listen, Like an Owl Exploding in fire. We hear the questions rise In terrible flame like the whistle of a crazy dog
Like the acid vomit of the fire of Hell Who and Who and WHO who who Whoooo and Whooooooooooooooooooooo!
Source: CounterPunch October 3, 2002.