Table of Contents
Black Man 7
Mississippi Courage: A Lighthouse to the World 10
What Good Are Poems? 12
It’s Libation Time 13
Griot Space 15
A Poem for Lorenzo Thomas’ Post-ModernConcerns 16
Don’t Call Me Angry 17
For Maryemma G. 19
Blue Colored Glasses (for Pecola) 20
[i] Can’t Dance (The Middle-Class Afro-American Blues Song) 21
Poetry Is... 23
Appreciation of You (in three Parts) 24
The Sweetness of Life (for Walter Payton) 26
Bob Moses: Gardener of Minds 29
What You Can Say in a Poem...? 30
Movements in Blackness: Shades of Humanity 33
Equal Tears 36
[i] Know It Was the Blood 37
Black Colleges Be Here 39
Oral Surgery 42
Put the Ghosts to Rest (for Rainey Pool) 43
A Poem for Bennie, Byrd, and the Black Caucus 45
Chivalry, Sexism, or Revolution? 47
Music Is 48
Census Blues 52
Revelations of a Bastard Child 53
For Hollis and His Southern Echo 56
Religion Haiku 58
The Preamble to the Homeless Constitution 59
How Do [i] Describe? 61
Mississippi’s Millennium Education 62
Redistricting Blues 64
Get Yo’ Child a Library Card 65
Much to Do about Marginalization 67
Do We Believe in Nature? 68
The Poison of Integration 69
Truth Haiku 70
No Revolution Today 71
2G (Another Millennium Poem) 72
The Cruelest Thing (for Kysha N. Brown) 73
My People 74
Sex Poem 75
[i]’m Sick of Blues Poets 76
Ms. Betty: A Silent Warrior 78
To Charlie 79
Don’t Pick the Fruit too Soon 80
A Ghetto Sunday 81
We Be Ground Gods 82
Temptation in Haiku Movements 83
For Imperfect People (Joe Starks’ Lament) 84
Come Home 85
This Is not a Protest Poem 86
Writing Alone at Night (for Li Po and Tu Fu) 90
What’s My Name? 91
Whatever “It” Is that We Want 95
The Apology: Blood on the Typewriter 96
“Mississippi Courage: A Lighthouse to the World
(for Medgar, Fannie Lou, and Ms. Annie Devine)”
Courage is a lighthouse guiding ships to salvation.
Courage is a fire that burns down the dead weeds of racism
that rise to suffocate the voices of liberty.
Courage is an antibiotic that kills the bacteria of hatred.
Courage was the nucleus of the Mississippi Trinity.
Three lamps full of freedom oil that shined the path
to the dirt and gravel roads of liberation:
an insurance salesman, a sharecropper, and a teacher.
Three instructors of liberation, teaching that
righteous knees only bow before God and that
the children of God have an unyielding, organic duty
to protect the meek like umbrellas shielding us
from the acid showers of colonialism or overcoats
shielding us from the frozen winds of prejudice.
Three bucking broncos, railing against
pale cowboys who lurk in the dark of the night
armed with the silver bullets of white supremacy.
Three lambs of justice who boldly walked into
the snake pit of the South and the lion’s den of America
to snatch their freedom from Ross “Nebuchadnezzar” Barnett,
Pharaoh Bilbo, and his side-winding, salamandering scribes,
the Jackson Daily News.
The insurance salesman, the sharecropper,
and the teacher bore the cross of change.
They were the fertile soil in which we planted our seeds of hope,
as they petitioned us to invest the collateral of our talents
into the mutual fund of the movement.
That’s why we must be tired of paper-tiger intellectuals
and playboy revolutionaries who care more about their
Cadillac payments than tilling the soil of ebony education
as they are standing on the backs and trampling the fruits
of Medgar, Fannie Lou, and Ms. Annie Devine.
These three midwifed and nurtured the germination
of the movement, which caused a rippling of
flowers and trees sprouting through
the winter of racism into the spring of transformation.
Like Shaka they were the pounding tom-tom heart of a militant
movement, like Jesus they came to heal the sick, and like
Mohammed they laid the blueprint for their people.
Still everyday people fighting for everyday concerns.
Speaking volumes with their actions, this trinity shook
the fibers of the universe.
Through intellectual guerrilla warfare with the spirit of
Jomo Kenyatta, they showed that leaders can’t teach people
to stand as tall as mighty magnolia trees if they are weeping willows
bowing on their knees to the winds of wrongdoers;
they embraced the sword of justice and the fires of protest
becoming ministers for justice and preachers of the gospel of freedom,
teaching us to be the engine of organizations rather than be
driven or plowed over by them.
With little possessions, they fought for the dispossessed,
each one crying 900,000 jubilee tears for 900,000
of Wright and Walker’s citizens at the mercy of
mis-educated teachers and chicken eating preachers,
all the while refusing to fight the forest fire of evil with evil,
believing love to be the only antidote for hate--for when held
to the light of Truth courage is the mirrored reflection of love,
and no greater love than a man who would lay down his chivalric
cashmere coat of life for another so that we may walk unblemished
over the cesspool of struggle-his payment to be beaten, kicked,
sprayed, spit on, spied on, lied on, bombed, and tuned out by his own
for a few crumbs of token positions and jus’ enough money to move
cross the tracks into the homes that pale people abandoned
to preserve the marmalade of Mississippi tradition.
In the blood-stained name of emancipation, equality, and liberty
the thick sweet potato aroma of their lingering legacy demands
that we heed the call to explode this corrupt cocoon into a
Capital city of concrete citizens.
So, [i] don’t know if [i]’m going to heaven or hell,
but wherever [i]’m going, [i]’m going for Mississippi.
[i]’m going for Mississippi.
“What Good Are Poems?”
Can a poem be as effective as a .357?
Can the images of a poem spray buck shot holes
into the body of a greenback stuffed sheet wearing shoat?
Can a poem be thrown as a brick through the window
of a grocery store so that we may pillage and plunder
its shelves for food for the hungry?
Can a poem be laid on top of a poem,
be laid on top of a poem, be laid on top of a poem
until we have built a shelter for the homeless?
Does a poem need a million dollar war chest
or a foundation grant to be mightier than the sword?
What good does a poem do a spoiled, bloated belly?
Can a poem lay hands on the sick and clothed the naked?
Can a poem work hoodoo on an ACT score?
Can a poem pull the rent payment from a magician’s hat?
Can poems assassinate Negro turncoats
who have sold their souls to racist rags?
Can poems cut short the lives of serpentine superintendents
who slyly suffocate African babies in Euro-excrement
disguised as Caucasian curriculums?
Poets are the African bees of political pollination.
Poems are the sperm of revolution.
We need poets to stop adding extra syrup and sacrine
to their sonnets so as to appease the pale palates of people
who have not the stomach for the straight-no-chaser truth.
We need poets to stop mindlessly
masturbating away their talents into literary napkins.
We need poets to start impregnating thoughts of
Black magnolias bursting through white cement
into the minds of Raven virgin souls who without it
toil in the reproductive process of self-aversion.
Poems are the sperms of revolution.
Are you making love to your people,
or are you merely fornicating away your existence?
"It’s Libation Time"
It’s libation time for the spirit soldiers of Christ
whose misty feet still leave footprints of a bloody map
from this middle passage while the wind of history blows
sweet the breath of God, which is the lingering sugary
smell of salvation for the South
earned on the backs of Onyx Angels.
Black people are the fertile soil
in which God planted his seeds for a holy nation
as we eat greens with our fingers
after building a nation with our hands,
growing strong from nature’s bounty
the body of God springing forth from vines and trees.
How else could a people survive the peculiar institution?
God is the power to inhale, pulling into the nostrils
the honey-soaked, revitalizing breath of the lamb.
God is the strength to exhale,
releasing the toxins of unholy living,
cleansing the human vessel to be driven by the Holy Spirit.
How else does the family tree survive
the merciless termites of the middle passage?
How else does the family tree survive
the malicious maggots of miscegenation.
How else do you survive picking cotton
‘til yo’ hands become stained with concrete calluses,
‘til yo’ spine becomes a rickety, shattered step ladder,
and ‘til yo’ feet are swollen sandpaper?
God is better than Calamine Lotion for yo’ hands.
God is better than Ben Gay for yo’ back.
God is better than Dr. Scholl’s for yo’ feet.
God was the pure water of the slaves’ noon-day drink
and the yams that fueled their weary bodies.
It’s libation time because unlike Lincoln’s
dog and pony contract of smoke and mirrors,
God’s proclamation in an iron-clad treaty of
‘cause the ink of God’s freedom document
is the blood of the lamb that no man can wash away
for God won’t renege on his reconstruction
like federal troops withdrawing from the South
leaving our heads firmly in the jaws of
the State’s Luciferioius lion-like legislation
God is the sweet potato soul of Negro Spirituals.
God is the cast-iron Truth
of Brown vs. the Board of Education.
God is the ferociously fanged Freedom
of the 13th Amendment.
God is the concrete Citizenship of the 14th Amendment.
And, God is the Absolute Right in the Voting Rights Act.
So because of the investment of our ancestors,
we now reap the profits of righteousness.
It’s Libation Time.
When we trumpet the harmonic praises of our ancestors,
we are composing a symphony of praise for Jehovah.
When we celebrate the surviving rivers of our ancestors,
we are celebrating the ocean of Jehovah’s power.
"2G (Another Millennium Poem)"
Why we so worried ‘bout 2G while we still wallowing
like swine in the excrement of 1G’s history.
The color line still binds our brains
like rusty, dirt colored Antebellum chains.
Trying to get to the future before reconciling your past
is like buying a car when you can’t afford the gas,
or like putting on clean draws before washing your ass.
A new coat of paint can hide old wood,
but it doesn’t make it any stronger,
like age isn’t the only parent to wisdom.
The mere reality of a Y2K bug is a trope
of man’s innate ability to dry up a wet dream,
or the foolishness of creating an animal
to be a biodegradable garbage can,
then turning around and making a ham sandwich from it.
Trying to kiss the sky with marijuana is like
trying to call God with BellSouth,
your modem is not transcendentally compliant.
Time’s only value is how you spend it,
and evolution means more than going to the moon
or the ability to terminate masses like termites.
We have grown out but not up
for we have invested in everything but our souls,
putting more into the bank of man than the bank of God.
You can take the man out of the millennium,
but can you take the millennium out of the man?
Or, will he impregnate 2G with his
still stank, spoiled, pus filled sperm?
Oh yeah, happy new year.