Nº. 1 of  94

i am the darker brother.

a collection of poetry from the genius of the african diaspora.

Open our ears to spirit sounds
Open your ears to secret words
Open your mind to spirit songs
Open your soul to receive
Spirits of your family
Spirits of your kind
Spirits of yourself
Sounds of the secret places
Songs of the invisible spaces
Come sing the warm songs sung
in the inner self
come sing the warm songs sung
int he inner self
come sing the warm songs sung
in the inner self
Oh… help me lawd…
sing the warm songs sung
in the inner self
in the inner self
in the inner self
yas… indeed…

—stanley crouch, spirit enchantment.

The rings of summer are passing
into the autumn dusk;
faint wings beat on windows;
there is a rustling under the bricks.

The last light is snaking
along the damn clay;
in its mouth are pomegranates;
its tail is a whip.

Wet night is varnished hell
in this strange town;
Door jambs sprout like trophies;
gargoyles hang from the bricks.

Across the walls of day,
night death has swelled.
As curious as a spectator,
it could not keep away.

—d.l.w. smith, new town.

I who would love and be loved
Am hated.
I am the victim
And the guilty;
The savage
And the trapped.
I am the angry
And the ill-at-ease.
Oh God!
If I were free
In life
And as I die,
I would neither be
Ghettoed,
Lynched
Nor ambushed.
i would find a better way
For existing
And ceasing to exist.
Release me now
From my soul-binding cage
Wherein I touch
But never hold,
Taste
But never savor,
Join
But never belong.

—mary coleman jackson, on being asked to pray.

One by one prosaic blackmen into renown
Not by the manner of their lives
But by the matter of their deaths.
And as their murders lie safe with pale white wives
The black men become songs and poems and speeches.
They become bold red letters on placards.
They become the names of streets
Running through ghettos.
They become a part of the earth
And a part of the air.
These black men wield great power from their graves.
They prove how ugly hate is
And how guilty many are.
They cause hearts to swell with pulsing sorrow
Until surrounding flesh erupts.
Eyes glaze.
Mouths curse.
And the heart belches out,
Hot, gory and useless,
To cool in the gutter among spittle and shattered glass.

—unknown, after the eleven o’clock news.

The night rains hot tar into my throat,
the taste is good to my heart’s tongue,
into my heart the night pours down its moon
like a yellow molten residue of dung:
the night pours down the sea into my throat
my heart drains off its blood in love and pain:
the night pours a Negro song into my throat,
bloodred is the color of this rain:

like a bowstring of song across my throat,
the wind through the pine-trees behind the shack,
the loneliness i wear like a torn coat,
the ghetto-terror kneeling thief-like on my back,
the scream of a black man being burned alive,
a black woman raped, blood trickling down her thigh,
the anguish of her children, their anger to survive,
the coal dust in their veins to come to fire before they die!

—lance jeffers, the night rains hot tar.

Shook it down
Like lace stepped out of,
Climbed on hesitations
Bunching high,
And floating floating fell.

Quickie globes of breath
Flung up twin fringes
Filling, swinging
Rounding rhythms
Melting winding springs.

Slowdown was a tease
Of circle generating circles
Fluttering again to one,
Running wingward like a ribbon,
Covering none.

—james a. emanuel, the burlesque queen.

"The Leopard is a symbol of Authority"
AFRICA, THE ART OF THE NEGRO PEOPLE

But, if restricted
kittens of African descent grow into fierce cats,
(like this exquisitely carved-from-ivory- leopard)
and chase all who bar their pedigree, and/or
cannot see that they too are true cats.

They chase their detractors into hot drop spots
or make present plots too hot for all and fry them
They lash out at those who care to cross a color line
They slash out at those who deny them space everyplace.
They rush out, hissing against their cages. They define.

Tearing tissues over issues and ideologies, and stare
with eyes where glare has replaced benign limpidity;
letting rages that have piled against their restrictors,
through the ages, explode over any in the way,
even blistering blasts at those who are of them and love them

They add their brand of smog to the polluted atmosphere
and tears and dread and pain,
instead of lilting laughter, reign.

—margaret danner, the jewel-studded, carved-from-ivory, leopard (sequel to abyssinian kitten).

Woman with hoe in hand, and baby on your back,
Sorrow-sated and tired to apathy,
My sister:

I oil your skin, manicure your feet, take hookworm from you
Children,
You man takes back his spear.

I turn your sweat into perfume and your breasts into onyx-tipped
Fruit.
I erase the erosions of childbearing from your stomach
And the robbers of your teeth have replaced them with pearls
And the scent of honeysuckle.
I give desire again, when your man comes
And if immortality slips, screaming, from your loins,
I give you joy to replace despair.

The river gives its many-tongued kisses as you bathe;
It does not hide the crucified body of your brother.
It does not hold the dead and blackened fruit, that once was
Your neighbor.
The fire warms your home and the bones of your old:
It does not roast your screaming son under the sign of Jesus.

I give you handmaidens, not a boss lady;
Bodyguards, not the Klan
I give you a castle, with peacocks in the garden:
You will never know of shacks with flies or tenements with rats.
I give you incense, hummingbird tongues in honey,
Sandals of beaten gold and bracelets of ivory.

I give you jewels and crowns for your velurial hair
And rings for your ebon hands.
I give you the Kings of Benin at your feet
And lands to the rim of the world.

Woman with hoe in hand, and baby on your back.,
Sorrow-sated and tired to apathy,
My sister:
I oil your skin, manicure your feet, take hook worm from your
Children,
Your man takes back his spear.

—alice h. jones, for sapphire, my sister.

The piano hums
again the clear
story of our coming,
enchained, severed,
our tongues gone,
herds the quiet
musings of ten million
years blackening the earth
with blood and our moon women,
children we loved,
the jungle swept up
in our rhapsodic song
giving back
banana leaves and
the incessant beating
of our tom-tom hearts
We have sung a long time here
with the cross and the cotton field.
Those white faces turned
away from their mythical
beginnings are no art
but that of violence—
the kiss of death.
Somewhere on the inside
of those faces
are the real muscles
of the world;
the ones strengthened
in experience and pain,
the ones wished for in one’s lover
or the mirror
near the eyes
that record this lost, dogged data
and is pure, new, even lovely
and is you.

—michael s. harper, effendi (for mccoy tyner).

When you enter
Strange cities
Be silent
In the streets
But speak
With all
You meet
And you will see
As the people see
The poor people
Are very rich.

When you enter
Their homes
Eat with them
Or they will hate you
But eat not
That which will kill you
Even if they insist
For you have been taught
By the Great Teacher
And they know Him not
May even mock Him
To your face
But cool your voice
They will submit
When they meet Him
When they see Him
In you.

When you love
Peoples of the world
Rivers are nothing
Between you
And strange tongues
A soulful tune
Salaam, salaam…

—marvin x, al fitnah muhajir.

One black brother with good intentions
and nappy hair and brown sandals
and a cloth sack of black books
which added weight to a heavy gun
on his half-healed shoulder of his arm of his hand
which he used to use
to smooth his natural
when times got hot and hair got kinky
at brutal battles
at conference tables
in days of old.
SO
One black brother with good intentions
and nappy hair and brown sandals
took 3 seconds to shift the weight
to raise the hand
to smooth the natural
to square the shoulders
while whitey saw him
and slew him
as in the days of old.

—tena l. lockett, the almost revolutionist.

The shouts shrink to a tense
silence. Trembling tongues
of fire turn to ashes.
The invisible blood burning
in our black faces—we huddle
bitterly at bay in this hovel—
cops clutching their stiff
rifles—eager to kill.

This baptism with fire, people,
is our redemption—our kindled candle.
Our dreams have long ago drowned
in the guts of the sea. We leap
blindly at dragons—our bloody bones
bolting through the skins edge.

—xavier nichols, the baptism with fire…

I see them move,
The black men there,
With shells for shoes
And sea for air.

They’re bound in lines.
Their dragging chains
Once held anchors—
Now like trains.

Their crops are mire.
With broken knees
They plow the floors
Of restless seas.

Horrible is it,
What’s to be—
Black human miles
Inside the sea.

With mighty toil
Their burst hands drop.
They move on past
The shattered ships.

It’s west they move,
And north to land,
They never sit,
They barely stand!

Their teeth strain on,
They have not stopped.
They knew the goal
‘Fore they were dropped.

O northwest lands,
See what’s in store,
As deathless men
Stride up your shore!

—carl gardner, the middle passage.

Pigmentation
A mirror image
of black on black;
a preference that
leans away from
fading colors and
imitation whites.

Posture
An on-your-toes
approach to the
mazeway of the
real world; a
shoulder squared
against what’s
happening—the man,
the hawk, bad luck,
blues. A motion,
a dance, a gesture,
a cool stance; a
walking that walk,
talking that talk
that is “now,” Man.

Position
Apartness, uniqueness
a separatism permitting
cutting through
white irrelevancies
to confront basic
issues; a revolutionary
zeal to overthrow
oppressive might,
a moral obligation
to change a wrong
to a right.

Perspective
A clear black eye
that peers through
the midnight muck
of man; a deniggerized
aspect and value;
a defiant trust
to wipe out
white wash;
positives of
assertive acts, affirmations
a strong “Yes,” not
negatives, invisibility
non entity.

Pride
People power
People magic- Soul
An exuberance of
existence; an
escalation of
self awareness
and appreciation.
Gut knowing buried
deep in the womb of
oppression turning stone
to bone, to flesh and
blood, and tears and
smiles, to love,
to life;
pulling
pulling
a magnet
pulling you
all the way back home
into a thing that
is
BLACK

—sarah webster fabio, black is.

America
Is a fairytale fraud
Where democracy is pronounced,
Dippity-Do
Ten times on a T.V. commercial—
Insulting my
Black mother,
My black sister,
My black wife,
My black self.

—bobb hamilton, america.

Nº. 1 of  94