Nº. 1 of  93

i am the darker brother.

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

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.

I LOVE old faces mellow wise,
That smile; their young-old laughing eyes
Undimmed, still view, in sheer pretense
Of youth, their own sweet innocence.

I love old hands that trembling bless
Youth’s wild impetuous duress;
That find in childhood’s tangled cares,
Life’s answers to unuttered prayers.

Old things to me are dear and best:
Old faith—that after life is rest;
That somehow, from above our will,
God works His gracious marvels still.

—charles bertram johnson, old things.

WRENCHED from the hold of a deep delvèd tomb,
Where slept the ancient king Tut-Ankh-Amen,
Raised from the dust of earth’s secreting womb
Egypt’s long vanished glory lives again.
Art’s matchless treasures hid in ages past
Yield to the march of Science and of Time
Which brings to light new spoils and trophies vast
And bares a craft both startling and sublime.
From out the Nile’s rich bed and sleeping sand
Within the slumbering Valley of the Kings,—
Beneath the stroke of an enchanter’s wand
The fount of immemorial culture springs,
The while a gasping world in wonder stares
To view the greatest marvel of the years.

—george reginald margetson, resurrection (on the discovery of pharaoh’s tomb. february 1923)

FAR above the strife and striving,
And the hate of man for man,
I can see the great contriving
Of a more than human plan.

And day by day more clearly
Do we see the great design,
And day by day more nearly
Do we footsteps fall in line;

For in spite of the winds repeating
The rule of the lash and rod,
The heart of the world is beating
With the love that was born of God.

—benjamin griffith brawley, the plan.

HERE lies a man whose soul was so
Puffed up with pride it could not grow.
Yet maybe, in the life to be
The fates will give it liberty
And let it reach, through steps severe
The size of it fancied it had here.

—joseph seaman cotter, sr., on a proud man.

I sometimes feel that life contains
Nothing, in all its wealth, to pay
For half the sorrows and the pains
That haunt our day.

Ambition lures us on and on,
A dangerous and a treacherous guide!
With every vict’ry that is won
Goes humbled pride!

And, still, we labor, love, and trust,
And seek to conquer as we go!
We reap at last repose in dust—
Naught else we know!

We leave the gewgaws of our power,
The hearts that hate us, and adore!
And after life’s distressing hour—
We know no more!

—timothy thomas fortune, we know no more.

Nº. 1 of  93