I wanted to write
but revolution doesn’t lend
itself to be-bopping
then my neighbor
who thinks i hate
asked – do you ever write
tree poems – i like trees
so i thought
i’ll write a beautiful green tree poem
peeked from my window
to check the image
noticed that the school yard was covered
no green – no trees grow
then, well, i thought the sky
i’ll do a big blue sky poem
but all the clouds have winged
low since no-Dick was elected
so i thought again
and it occurred to me
maybe i shouldn’t write
but clean my gun
and check my kerosene supply
perhaps these are not poetic
From Black Judgement, copyright 1968, Nikki Giovanni
I didn’t know I was grateful
for such late-autumn
yellow in the after-harvest
sun before the
cold plow turns it all over
I didn’t know
I would enter this music
that translates the world
back into dirt fields
that have always called to me
as if I were a thing
come from the dirt,
like a tuber,
or like a needful boy. End
lonely days, I believe. End the exiled
and unraveling strangeness.
From The Unraveling Strangeness, by Bruce Weigl, Grove/Atlantic, 2003.
By Aracelis Girmay
When the boys are carnivals
we gather round them in the dark room
& they make their noise while drums
ricochet against their bodies & thin air
below the white ceiling hung up like a moon
& it is California, the desert. I am driving in a car,
clapping my hands for the beautiful windmills,
one of whom is my brother, spinning,
on a hillside in the garage
with other boys he’ll grow old with, throw back.
How they throw back their bodies
on the cardboard floor, then spring-to, flying
like the heads of hammers hitting strings
inside of a piano.
This is how they fall & get back up. One
who was thrown out by his father. One
who carries death with him like a balloon
tied to his wrist. One whose heart will break.
One whose grandmother will forget his name.
One whose eye will close. One who stood
beside his mother’s body in a green hospital. One.
Kick up against the air to touch the earth.
See him fall, then get back up.
Then get back up.
Copyright © 2015 by Aracelis Girmay. From The BreakBeat Poets: New American Poetry in the Age of Hip-Hop (Haymarket Books, 2015).
~ Ruth Irupé Sanabria
I am the daughter of doves
That disappeared into dust
Hear my pulse whisper:
I have many friends and thirty thousand
Warrior angels to watch
Over my exiled skin.
Look what occupies the four chambers of my heart:
You will know me by this.
I am the daughter that never forgets.
From “The Strange House Testifies” (Bilingual Review Press, 2013).