It landed on the kitchen table next to the watermelon. Like a Sunday newspaper on Thursday. Set aside for recycling. Or an abandoned spoon after dessert. It sat there foreign but familiar. Like an African American in America.
The carousel sang loudly. Drowned out the relief of parental duties. Playful screams resonated the atmosphere. Cotton candy decorated white faces pink and blue. Mustard stains on white t-shirts. Scraped knees caused by unattended shoelaces. The day was glee and the night carefree, as flying gravel spun under running feet.
Her bladder was full of miles like her mother’s. She watered the ground with chocolate auburn. The spices enticed the clouds to cry and capture the streets. She met him where the sun sat in the fire pit. He kissed her hand to summons a feather so she wouldn’t doubt his words. His eyes were complete like the turn of an owl’s head. The preacher announced their commitment where roads met corners with mirrors. He hung their picture in a birdcage to catch time. He told them not to be afraid.
The first season spread the hours like a bridge. He supplied water to dry, fallen branches daily. Believers of the unseen. She carried unicorns in her pockets. They wore audacious yellows and greens in a black and white world. Demanded freedom like 8 a.m. school bells. Unbalanced as thick as unjust. At night she placed sweet onions on his eyelids. He remained rooted. His tongue poignant from the aroma.
Dog’s were death’s best friend. Hydrants absent from fires. Hoses present at protests. Tilted buses full of spiritual songs. Northern boys with fresh fists. Southern boys with patched will. Northern girls with golden intuition. Southern girls with ancient maps. Laughter extinct. Spit like rain. Freedom rides. Spirits flew. Red summer. Blue years. Freedom wide. Hatred tall. Black bodies hung/ burned/ mutilated. Daylight tardy.
Soprano saxophone accompanied her screams. Vibrato in her hands. His head in her lap. His eyes meeting her’s was the prize. “Sit me up, turn me loose.” Abandoned from forever. She sat him up. Erect as pillars. Baroque rocked. Down. She sipped tea in China.
Scores for his name. His verses rhymed her forward. Her passion sweet as fruit. Seasoned. Made days wet cement. For imprints. Slops. Hills. Concrete with purpose. His remembrances sleep at our feet.
a prose from the book,
Autographed copies available here
Amiri Imamu Baraka
Poet Laureate, Playwright, Speaker, Activist
My words come like a muffled organ /cornered
in a country side church.
I pray one reaches you clear
flattened forever between verses of the New Testament.
henna tatoos decorate the stretch marks
across her chest
from loving many ways.
and they like ’em like that
scratchin’ hipbones with no itch
they like ’em searchin’
glossy lipped and eyed
Nike “just do it” wearin’
county children raisin’
they like ’em like that.
nikki skies from the book “Pocket Honey Wind & Hips”
Ain’t nobody talking about it
the strong black woman is tired by Tuesday.
and on Thursday,
She buries another virtue so Friday morning can be a
She goes for unavailable men
cause of Her father’s absence.
it’s your problem
cause your daughter plays with Her daughter
I need you,
To care for her.
from the book “Pocket Honey Wind & Hips”
I forgave my ancestors for not defending the shoreline
and I occupy their transgressions consciously
and I know the tears of disclosure from the Creator
so I sit beside you all night and won’t speak
in fear you’ll find me out
or laugh at the songs that escape my vagina and armpits
but I do love you.
She say for her family
she do what she can
when in reality it be for her man
who wants another mother like her son
so she wipe both they asses / and then her tears cause it be from the same shit
too tired more / more tired than / her mother who
taught her how to stay
who lived and died the same way
the palm reader etched on her palm.
now that she know,
she can remain calm
when he comes to bed
smelling like fuck nut and dried saliva
he’ll say it’s all in her head
so she close her eyes and have nightmares
of forever being a fool.
from the poetry book, Pocket Honey Wind & Hips
She said all it would take is $10
to sense the spirits around me
and read my future.
But I tried to tell her it wasn’t me I was worried about
my prayers are blown to the
sunset gray ridden waves
that have washed my wishes and haunts
my prayers are for the
street prophets freestylin’
thinking they showed me love and let me slide
ignorant to the active place of genocide
in his backyard and her bosom.
I pray for abandoned children with two parents
I pray so long sometimes I fall asleep
and dream of the ancestors
I dream of heaven
I pray for women with deep
that only her missing child can scratch.
I pray poets with purpose
plant potent seeds for
progression with poise
I pray the baroque docks
so other poets can simply stop.
I pray this teaches those that know
that they don’t
so we can hold each other.
The incense hypnotized the seconds
as she checked her clock
she ended up
giving me $20.
- nikki skies, from the book, “Pocket Honey Wind & Hips”
Maya Angelou’s works have been criticized as works of “uplift” and not genuine art. What are your thoughts on this?
Jolivette: Art must be functional. Artist must be critical thinkers who observe, analyze, interrogate, and offer solutions to the problems within their (our) communities. As a poet, Dr. Mother Angelou observed the pain of her people.
She analyzed the conditions of her people. She interrogated herself to see how she could best contribute to the ongoing work, begun before she was born, to help heal the hurt and pain of her people. It is obvious that her answers came in the form of ‘be positive’ and ‘uplift’ your people with your work and words and your work-in-words. There is nothing more genuine than seeing ones own humanity and the humanity of others and being positive in the face of treacherous negativity.
How would you characterize Angelou’s style—her language, her tone, her choice of metaphors, and so on?
Continue reading Gifts for Mother Maya by Jolivette Anderson