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Poetry in English

Poems by Thomas Phillips

Big City Alcoholism

Big city alcoholism is alone in a room with your scabies
And sex fantasies turned to moldy nightmares.
Big city drunk, stake through the heart of your empty mailbox,
The city’s got deadlines and schedules
And you’re a sheets-for drapes embarrassment
Cowering silent in your misappropriated time
Big city drylips loser, ribbon pension rib-bones, no next of kin
Nirvana, dirty cats on your doorstep like a reconciling sister.
Big city unmapped solitudinous day weaving old lady driver like
Down your smudgeoned window. Prayer gets too important
When the stores blink closed full of northern unmercies.
Big city gone to tampering with the history of your soul,
Gone searching like a murderer through your cracked yearbook heart
Painting scenes of demise for even your momma
Like a prison screw cutting short a visit to bust balls
After a long trainride out.
Big gig no city, big city no education
Crazy aunts loitering outside church
Like hungry bats on a streetlamp stage,
Ministers with libidos who drank with papa too
Keeping a hustle alive
Swatting at decay like citronella.
Old factory big city, shopping cart can redemptions and
12-dollar parking lots where the ants of commerce
leave their lipsticked cans.
Big city jug, wholesale discounted memories bootleg Sunday dawn
Indifference, rip offs of possibility like a gray wave
Of putrid slush even the seagulls hover over
Contemplating from the corners of their eyes.
Big unplanned landings and no Medicaid
Big, big hearts and social worker files.
The rinse of alchohol’s holy in the dirty allday clouds of waiting.

Hymn For Bedouin Wisdom

Reap of the rumbling underfoot
Silence posses thy sight
In the fiery heavens.
Ill winds spread seedlings
Perfumed by thy lasting forbearance-
Serene and anchored evermore
Past the ritual of time.
Be still only as ages past and coming,
Luminous in the haze of destruction
And fury.
The opportunity for gladness
Remains constant
Fixed by confusion
Solidified by thy middle course
Freed from hatred and obsession.
Thy gaze is vast and fertile.
Blameless is thy wonder
Flowered is thy calm
Easy is the sleep of knowing.

Drag in Eden

All the dead people I know
Need to cut it out,
All that knocking on my door
Like I can provide something these days.
All the funny ones
And fat and skinny ones
And all those others behind sunglasses demure
Standing there so open now like a Fuller brush.
I got business to take care of
Like keepin’ up the store,
Pulling the blinds
When the sun gets seductive with its slouch,
So sexy,
All their pollenous time on their hands
My curse
Like I got all day to misdeed
And collapse
(Cloudy frankness, write me a letter I ain’t blind),
With all this breezy hammock concord
And mellifluous upgivings,
I can’t have it, go away
(Who knows the number on years left
For me and us minions).
Bones be gone
Stay off my velocities and diligent dawns
I won’t believe it’s such a drag in Eden.

Khalib’s Cash Register

The guy at the 24-hour store
Out on the windy boulevard
Always seems to be there.
Ringing up my coffee and popcorn,
Ringing up my beer and Lil Debbies,
Ringing up my impulses dark or day.

I wanna ask him what
Country he hails from
Looking so vaguely Hispanic
With gold Ruski false teeth
And Bangladeshi earthen brown hue
And serpentine Arabic rhythms
Wafting from his Canal Street tapedeck
Taped to his register
Next to the condom rack.

He smiles down each visit
As if he offers penance

From his moneychanging perch and position.
But as always
I take only my change
And forget to ask his origins
’Til I’m back on the windy street
Once again.

Uptown and Down

Break off the night from the day
’til I know what’s real again
savings bank of glass reflection
sadnesses bark
unchain my melody of sound…

Petrified puking Bowery monument
Chinese backhand away from the window menu
you’re smelly of unscheduledness
find another booth for your rebound…

Amnesia of the earnesty urn
drippy dali time
mockery of effort
country ethic ruminations on the Q-trainride inbound…

Sens, sens, and coke to smoke
cornerride query
harlem downtrip for all the white busyboy biz
where the night’s stretched thin
’til it breaks without a sound…

West-soaked winds of jersey history
TV allnite edelweiss as 11th avenue as love
Hudson ocean chopping to the mountains
before it gets found…

All the lies in the concrete
city graveyard making a joke of ritual
by its multitudinousness
Calvary stomp so loud
death’s best viewed as a mound…

Jadedness and hindu open storefront eyes
wrinkled barbecue smoke, timelessness
cop crackdown by duckblood dreams of fishskins
sweaters and batteries, cheap x-videos
discount cologne and no-return paradise found…

So many bridges leading nowhere, one current
What’s the story rudy?
’cause the mayor’s like a Dutchman here
like he’s late for the task of setting up a town…

The moonlight means nothing both
Uptown and down.

—Thomas Phillips

Thomas Phillips lived in Boston, MA, for many years before moving to New York in the 1990s. He was a powerful poetic voice in the Boston’s homeless empowerment movement, reading in several venues. He published in 1987 his first poetry book, Rent Free, co-authored with Raffy Woolf. Tom Phillips now resides in New York City where he works as a counselor in a women’s prison.

Poems by Vilvalex Calice

L’Enfant domestique*

Dirty linen shouldn’t be washed in public,
except when privacy exists only in
stinking latrines and backyard showers,
or a few moments each night
in a bed made of rag infested with bedbugs.

Dirty linen must be washed so
Jesula can rise from her jute mattress,
like truth crushed to Earth,
unceremoniously steady and prompt
with the elegance of purpose,
with elaborate plans to execute
and important goals to reach
beside cooking and cleaning.

Jesula must not rise
before the rooster wiggles and sings,
shakes all about, tousles his wings,
before dawn cracks the pane of darkness
and sprinkles first dew
on wild geranium.
The girl shouldn’t have grease on her hands
while the sun is still asleep
behind goddamn mountains.
She must not be the first to rise and
always the last to lie down.
* A child used as a live-in servant

Fitting the Profile

It was the usual boring road,
fifteen lampposts from beginning to end,
another plain Wednesday just before midnight.
Three miles out of the five miles ride home,
Thirty yards from the seventh lamppost,
right at the twist on the road
in the blind spot of men and beasts:
colored lights flashed from behind.
I stopped. I Waited. I Worried. I knew.
“Where you going boy?”
Said the gun in my ears,
loud taps on my window with lit flashlight.
“Is this your car?
License, Registration and Insurance Card.”
“What’s the problem officer?” I asked.
“Problem? Who said there was a problem.
You better not get an attitude with me.”
Secret wish: I want to live past midnight,
Thursday morning is important to me.
“Nice!” He says smirking.
“Are you sure it’s yours?
One just like that is reported stolen,
and the perp fits your description.
Do you have a job? What do you do for a living?
Where are going at this hour?
Keep your hands where I can see them?
What are you doing in this area?”
I sweat like a pig in bondage.
Humanity excised for melanin content.
Pride oozed from the wounds inflicted
on my soul with scalpel like gestures
and disdainful looks from the Law.

I whispered prayers to the steering wheel
as my disloyal logic took flight on wings of fear,
leaving me in a stew of lowly emotions,
proto-bestial instincts grinding raw.
Swamp of light bugs on the seventh lamppost,
sole material witness to my distress
but, most won’t make it through the birth of the sun,
none has the life span of a Court Calendar.
I had visions of Rodney King in slow motion,
Patrick Dorismond, Abner Louima,
Amadou Diallo, and others reaching
for broken door handles.
I made the sign of the cross
when reached the fifteenth lamppost
like a faithful penitent at the Calvary.

One red light from home.
Sweet home!

—Vilvalex Calice

Poem by Ogounati


I am that sinner who repented his sin
Among those who sowed the word
Some fell by the way side,
Some fell upon a rock,
Some fell among thorns, and
I fell on good ground.
An honest and good heart
Having heard the word
I kept it.
With patience I persevered,
Built character.
I hope that:
Being a Levite,
One of the twelve,
I am that 144,000
O generation of Holy Ghost!
Bring forth comfort
God of air and water
Raised up children to His Majesty.


Poems by Prosper Sylvain Jr (a.k.a. Makendal)

Unity… Haitian Man and Woman

She artificially inseminated my third eye with her essence
gave herself her own name and stated her presence
rose from her own fiery incense
stepped off of planes and boats onto new shores
expanding the minds of limited corridors.

With headwraps
and fingers, naps, fingersnaps,
incense, mystical decadence and spoken words,
with oils and candles and rocks and all
sorts of minerals,
she was the catalyst for mental slavery’s funeral
with locks and caramel, café au lait,
milk chocolate complexions and deep reflections
she brought her manifestation of self into reality,
crossing her would be a calamity.

Lack of comprehension barricaded the flames of her soul
but her intense heat seemed to swallow you whole.
She was no longer maid, restavek, bonne or Caribbean Aunt Jemima
and it was apparent that nothing could stop her.

Runaway train destined for a repetition of greatness
she said to hell with the entire world’s lateness
no longer wanted to be girlfriend and/or mistress…
She was “master of her own dew” and destiny
calling her anything else was your own blasphemy.

She possessed the warmth of the sun,
the depth and vastness of the universe
her beauty left a lasting impression of a curse
to my eyes
begging you to know more than the crossroads of her thighs.

Her eyes,
deep like the rivers of my Haitian land
running shivers through the burning sands
of my desert and deserted mind.
She spoke languages once thought long gone and dead,
made love to her man while drums were playing,
only third eye consciousness knew what she was saying…
She forced Roumain, Durand, Coicou, Etienne to invoke her in lyrics
Depestre, Tiga and Leroi compared her to spirits!

She was the real sister that was born from the drum
the one sister who knew where she came from
She took emotions once buried deep in the cemetery
of Haitian man’s subconscious prison,
set them all free on her conscious caramel horizon
and as Haitian man’s hands swept her hair I could tell
she was filled with the rivers of her sweet Jacmel.

I caressed her skin, smooth and dark
I was taken back to the hills of St. Marc
bent my knee to caress her feet
and tasted the sweetness of Artibonite,
only this woman could make me complete.
Even when she was wearing a weave
she looked like a Kreyòl Queen from Gonaïves
breasts and thighs that seemed to fill
all of the streets of Pétionville
with a voice and tongue that seemed soft and pure
she became my erotic cure
saliva as sweet as kremas, thick and smooth,
this sister was more of my groove.
She said “Brother let’s go take over the world,
let’s go recapture our island pearl”,
so with her by my side I grabbed my machete
we turned chains into red, white and blue confetti
stood our mother on her feet and washed her face
declared to the whole entire human race
that this is on what the Haitian man and woman are based.

She read books on revolution
revolutionized books on love
and womanhood,
to make sure she was understood
in high heels or boots, dresses or jeans
she evoked and invoked “by any means”
in every one of her forced missteps
she was filled with mathematical-metaphysical concepts
that she could rip stars down from black night’s sky,
and place them in her black as night eyes,
the universe was born between her thighs!

She milked the moon of its light, she turned day into night
filled the universe every morning with her breath
blinded the sun when she emitted her luminescence
and illuminated any black hole with her majestic presence.

Every Egyptian hieroglyph and ancient drum,
nago and ibo, asòtò and congo
every griot’s song
emitted themselves from the locks of her hair,
she could make a shooting star stop and just stare.

She had a beauty and strength that was founded in spine
and she was the sweet sip of a connoisseur’s aged wine

Her voice could raise the dead
and her heart could feed the unfed

I told her that I have left the cities of Gomorrah for the cities of Solommon,
I want to rebuild myself as the new Jerusalem
I want to tap into the richness of the Haitian man’s powers mentally
and I want to know that somewhere along the line eventually
we can dance a freedom dance together
we can fight through any weather
we can heal our people naturally
we can heal each other mentally
we can fix our country politically
respect each other religiously
without sarcasm or facetiously,

we can raise the dead as in dead minds
and look deep inside the confines
of our selves for richness
so that one day we can witness
Haitian Man and Woman for eternity
living for once in loving Unity
seeing each other not by color or length/straightness of hair
not by class or the cars that we drive
and wear as social medals
Haitian Man and Woman for eternity
living for once
as one
in loving Unity!

My People

Once upon a time
when slavery was not a crime
but the means of exploitation
there came a cry from the mother nation.

you see,
Africa screamed during the great kidnapping,
it was your Mother they were kicking and slapping.

They stole the mighty Congo
and enslaved the great Ibo,
they shackled the royal Nago
and this all happened 500 years ago.

Now, as I see the growth of my mentality
I can appreciate what happened to my sweet Ayiti.
Yes, I am Haiti, first black republic
and even though I was never inducted
into anyone’s Hall of Fame,
I carry the scars of the slavery game,
I scream out to the wind to know my name,
I cry blood and feel constant labor pains
as my history drowned in monsoon rain.

My heroes and she-roes are still alive in my soul and spirit,
listen to my drum and my conch…can you hear it?

I call out to my ancestors in search of answers,
Haiti can no longer be the world’s private dancer,
begging at the corners of foreign policy,
while wallowing in the pool,
the basin of mental, social, political poverty.

Guakanagarik! where is your spirit!???
To speak the truth for the world to hear it?
Anakaona, Marie Jeanne, Boukman,
Makendal…where is your spirit?!!
To speak the truth for the world to hear it.
Toussaint L’Ouverture, Dessalines, Christophe,
Pétion, Boyer…where is your spirit!??
To speak the truth for the world to hear it?
Catherine Flon, you sewed our first flag,
Where is your spirit!??
To speak the truth for the world to hear it.
Péralte, where is your spirit???
To rise like Lazarus and speak the truth for the world to hear it!

Yes, speak the truth, that must be told
watch closely as history unfolds.

I am the Haitian that some despise,
accent on my tongue and eyes open wide.
Upon my back was put the stigma of AIDS
that put more than a million of me in rage,
forcing us to battle this international cage.

Some must have thought that we would cower and cringe,
but instead we took over their Brooklyn Bridge.
From all over the world we descended on Gracie Mansion in New York City,
to once again show the character and pride of the people of Haiti.
We beat the voice of our drum for the deaf world to once again hear,
that we Haitian people did not have a fear
to fight like we did before
for independence and dignity in 1804,
dignity and respect, no matter what the price…

We will beat our drum and blow our conch again in unity
with any and all, no matter what their nationality
because Haitians still have the tenacity and voracity
to free drink from the same glass as Lady Liberty.

No longer will the chains be at our feet and our minds,
modern day floods are the sign of the times.

In the face of adversity
no matter what our history
we recall our antiquity,
we commit the international blasphemy
of seeking and thirsting for freedom and equality…
the road is not long,
listen to the song
that the voices of the soil rise to sing…

the drum beats a rhythm of hope
and soon it will be for us to elope
and marry a better future,
all of us, brother and sister,
dignity and respect no matter what the price,
we did it once, we’ll do it twice.

Haitian Sun/Son Rising

Yes, good morning, and as the sun is rising
I feel like chastising,
I feel like John the Baptist, I feel like baptizing
past history that has been hypnotizing me,
so pass me a papyrus wash cloth and the soap of my past
so that I may wash my face and remove
the slave residue from my mind and body!

pass me some astringent
so that I can stay stringent
and always a malignant cyst
living and breathing a fiery kiss
of truth to scorch the edifice
of lies and hate
to make the sociopolitical ground palpitate,
the truth is pathological and an inevitable twist of fate!

it’s time to set it off this morning
let the truth start gushing and pouring
out to minds that are dry and infected
vérité antibiotics are always easily rejected
because their eyes and ears have been soiled and disrespected
by mainstream media that misrepresented
my country, sweet land called Ayiti,
the original black man’s land of liberty,
of thee I spit!
Haiti is the land where MY fathers died
and that’s why I spit with pride
knowing fully well how history, academia and politicians have lied
trying to keep Haiti in a chokehold,
but the writing is now written on mental walls in bold!

see me now with the sun rising
I am a Haitian son rising
see my history filled with uprisings
see me now as I’m verbalizing
the essence of my presence in world history
destroying the previous blasphemy
that has you thinking
without really seeking

I am the first free black kingdom
the black originator of the definition of freedom,
I blew the horn to free African slaves across the world,
my island nation, a jewel, a pearl.

The world stopped and just stared
as we fought the Battle of Vertières,
and there in pride and dignity
we proclaimed ourselves a free Ayiti
(So thank my ancestors for this place that is now the United States of America,
would they have it so good if not for the sale of Louisiana?
not to mention my heroes who fought in Savannah, Georgia!
There is so much that the world purposefully does not know,
from Haiti to Jean-Baptiste Point du Sable who founded Chicago!)

The world doesn’t have to take it personal
they just have to listen to the verbal arsenal
as we recount and go back to the beating of the drum
in the woods of Bwa Cayiman in 1791
we Haitian people made a pact to always fight for liberty,
the poet says today that no one CAN deter me
from walking and talking as a strong, proud Haitian, what do you expect?
In 1804 we fought and earned this RESPECT!

—Prosper Sylvain Jr. (a.k.a. Makendal) makendal30@aol.com, makendal30@yahoo.com

Poems by Jean-Dany Joachim


Before dawn
The carnage started,
My city fainted.
Heavy machines sneaked in
And seized the roads,
The stones howled,
The houses,
The beds,
The windows,
The tables,
And shrank-shrank,
And dark came again.
The air stopped breathing.


It just happens
I love you
Please don’t ask me why
I don’t know

It just happens
I love you too
Please don’t ask me why
I don’t know either

—Jean-Dany Joachim (from Love and Other Poems by Haitians Youths, Trilingual Press, 2004)

Poem by Samson Germain

Face Old Day
(in memory of Riguerre Jean)

Where do you go from here?
Released into thin air
Fly, fly away from here
Into the atmosphere
Nowhere else to go but,
Back to the universe
I see the light
I see the light, Isis
And I will never give up
My third eye sees
Mistress of all mysteries
On a mission with the sunrise
For I must conquer!
As I watch the sunset over this, Babylon…
Eyes to see, ears to hear
So many are called
And only a few chosen
With or without religion
Where is heaven now?
This is life…
They say the best die young
Fade away, or come back
Roar like a lion heart
With this knowledge you speak the truth
Your roots more in tune with Mother Nature
Free yourself in his name
All that is man
A system before your very own eyes
So blind to the facts
Telling lies to your vision
I’m awakened in this lifetime

—Samson Germain from Love and Other Poems by Haitians Youths, Trilingual Press, 2004

Poem by Paul Germain

Don’t cry little girl

Don’t cry little girl
When you are alone
You may feel hopeless
But don’t give up on yourself

Little girl,
Don’t cry, hold up yourself
Believe in yourself
And don’t give up on yourself
Little girl, don’t worry
For no one understands you
Whoever puts you down
Will be surprised to see you up

Don’t cry little girl
Even when you have no hope
Keep dreaming,
But, don’t give up on yourself!

—Paul Germain from Love and Other Poems by Haitians Youths, Trilingual Press, 2004

Poem by Fabiola Jocelyn

I Remember You and I Miss You

I remember the way you talked to me,
The respect of our love;
I remember your smooth hand
When you touched me;
I remember when you kissed me,
It was so sweet
Yes, I remember and miss you.
I remember when we used to play,
When we used to laugh;
I remember when I was sad,
You made me happy;
I remember your voice
Yes, I really remember you and miss you
I remember the way you looked at me
I remember your face, your body, all of you,
I remember our promise
I remember the color of your eyes;
I really remember you and I miss you so much.

—Fabiola Jocelyn from Love and Other Poems by Haitians Youths, Trilingual Press, 2004

Poem by Patrick Sylvain

Mamour: Love, Loss & Memory
(for Marcelle & Paul Laraque)

You were my poetry and my prose.
With verse and your zest for life,
We’ve traversed pain in exile’s plantations
Only to be nursed by the bushel of roses
That you once were. You, my companion,
My compass, my gearbox & my muse.

You were the respite from our country of tumult,
Your love anchored me to poetry and my poetry
Grew lines into Haiti’s complex syllables.
In Exile, wounded, you praying, me flipping Marx,
We awaken with the same dream. A better Haiti.
Mamour, we’ve moved shadows and hugged stars.

You were my poetry and my prose.
Before you, my desire to saunter knew no end.
Your magnetic gaze and peaceful lips bunkered
Me to your shore like a sea lion enamored with the sun.
But it was your wits, your serenity and your confidence
Meshed with abysmal passion that bonded my soldiering.

Mamour, you were my poetry and my prose,
And since earth took back your breath
I’ve often considered halting my steps,
For exile is now flowerless and coarse.
With the breath I have left, I’ve heralded
You to the world as a way to sustain you in my core.

You were the respite from our country of tumult,
And besides amiable memories, there are the graceful
Pictures of you to fill my emptiness. Like the one taken
In the back seat with the sun brushing your cheek.
Elegant, poised, lucid, your amity is still my compass.
Mamour, you are love’s rays etched on my tired torso.

—Patrick Sylvain

Poems by Askia Touré

A Song for Patriots 2 / Rhythm & Blues

So what to this earth do we bring
As definers and defenders of Soul?
How do we imagine, or shape, Reality to our
Collective complexities, we innovative
Creators of “Jazz”? We sable knights
Of auction blocks, we inhibitors of projects,
Keepers of spicy gumbo, aristocrats
Of appetite evolved to aromatic barbeque;
Queens of bimsha-rhythmic erotica, sultans
Of slam-dunking Summer with its romance
And reggae magic, among festivals
Blessed with myriad Nubian profiles.
Who gives voice to Vision/Memory within
This Nation of wounded geniuses, wild with
Bluesy love songs, ominous with gangsta-rap,
Moaning at the graves of murdered prophets?
A people who refuse to “break a sweat”
In the wake of “crack,” “heroin,” “ice,” HIV,
Killer cops and other barbaric acts.
A people who spitefully spit in the eyes of Death
On a daily basis—and make him blink.
A people with a curious love for grape soda,
Cadillacs, and other people’s gods.
A people who turn gray Puritan Sundays into an
Elegant, tropical Fashion Show—with coiffures
Of feathered flare and sensual sassiness.
A people who transformed basketball into a Cosmic
Ballet of Watusi demigods, challenging flight.
A people who demand Freedom’s uncompromising
Light in a profit-driven nightmare of game show
Robots and Media whores.
A people this poet loves with a furious passion!

American Nightmare 1: Vampires
(dedicated to Colin Powell & Condoleeza Rice)

Black people gone “corporate,” allowed back seats in the butcher shop
Of the Vampires’ Cannibal Lair. The Liar, the Monster, no longer called
Count Dracula (that’s too foreign, too medieval, too bizarre); no, call him
Vic or Ric, and her Bunny or Barbie, both blond, Germanic and beautiful:
Model Aryans, lawyers, like Allie McBeal, producers, super-models, blond,
Germanic wunderkinds, though “troubled,” being privileged among
The Homeless, the Castrated Blacks and Latinos, leaves one “troubled,”
Though rich and Germanic, with Ken and Barbie among the Vampires and
Sycophants of the sexy American Nightmare, known as “Freedom,” where
Texas Oil billions buy the White House; jail welfare moms, while Lonely
Crowds wander aimlessly among spinning Game Show wheels composed
Of the bones and sinews of dead “Redskins.” American Dreams for sale
Among the Vampires & Sycophants, naked images of J. Edgar Hoover,
Perfumed, in drag, masquerading as Marilyn Monroe with dress blown up,
Exposing panties and bandy, hairy legs. Corporate “suits” sleuth
Through the night as “Men in Black” killing “X-file” idealists taking
“Fox” Molder as role model/paradigm… American Dreams for sale,
Haunted by slain prophets: Dr. King’s regal voice ringing in the future;
Malcolm X’s volcanic fury exposing Vampires, echoing in hurricanes
From Africa whirling through ravaged countrysides. American Dreams
Slaughtered like the Kennedys, and “john-John,” while Bush-whacking
Vampires create military coups, Global War, Apocalypse, goose-stepping
Across the borders of a dark and frightened World!
The Usual Suspects
Midnight: werewolves howl in killer
Batmobiles, whose sirens are blue grafitti
Against the Ghetto’s inky walls. Maniacs,
Psychopaths, unleashed against a Bantu nation,
Resonant with blues. Who walks these
Mean streets beside innocent youths absent
Of rites of Passage, and Ancestral blessings?
Raging with Hip Hop anger, slender frames in
Baggy pants whose fades and dredlocks shine like
Bulls-eyes in the hellish American Nightmare.

Words From the Bantustans
(for our youths)

What a world the bards and griots dreamed, a vision-forged epic
Of ethics and heroic drama, where the Good manage to live
Long enough to actually rule. A world where Malcolm, Martin,
And the Kennedys actually call the shots, where Fannie Lou
Hamer and Ella Baker are prime ministers: Candaces, queen
Mothers led by Audley Moore, whose righteous voice
Rocked continents. Imagine Gween Brooks empowered, ruling
Actual Territories, Duke Ellington, or Robeson and DuBois
“enstooled” as pharaohs, which was what Kemet actually was.
And in northern Ice-lands, barbarians imagined Capitalism,
Fascism, Slavery, Genocide, so that Kemet, Kush, Karthage,
Sumer, Harappa, China could never rise again. That Olmecca,
Maya, Inca, Mexico would always remain in realms we dream
While sweating in factories or cotton-fields, or urban hells
Among crack-heads or rotting corpses, festering with Aids.
And you, Man/Woman, tired from work, tense with the stress
Of racist/sexist pigs howling in your ears, ask yourselves,
Why we, now alive, are never allowed to realize the Dreams
We all carry as Prayers deep inside: that Someday, Otis,
Keisha, Maria, Lamar will actually live those ancient dreams
We embody in our Love-songs and immortal Jazz.
…But who’s going to make Revolution and win?

Survival: A Chant
(for Martin, Malcolm and Medgar)

Paint this joy upon the World’s canvas;
That despite lynchings, bombings,
Dirty deeds, we living seeds of a Bantu
Nation live and breathe amidst the trials
And madness of Anglo-sponsored
Profiteers, spawn of puritans, new breed
Pioneers raping this world with Saxon greed.
We are Thirty Million strong, bred from auction
Blocks of chained chattels. Slaves!—bought and
Sold like tamed cattle—now produce astronauts,
Rocket scientists, while sermons from
Slain kings rattle in America’s frigid ears.

—Askia Touré

Askia Touré spent his young ages and youth in New York in company of masters as Langston Hughes, John Oliver Killens, John Henrik Clarke, Amiri Baraka, etc. Amiri Baraka once said that many poets of the sixties and seventies’ Black Art Movement was influenced by Askia Touré’s poetic rhythm and tone of voice. He has published From the Pyramids to the Projects: Poems of Genocide and Resistance, winner of the American Book Award for literature, 1989; Dawnsong! The Epic Memory of Askia Touré, Third World Press, 2000. He is also one of the authors of City of Poets, 18 Boston Voices, Singing Bone Press, 2000.

by Christo and Jean-Claude

The Gates by the Towers by Christo and Jean-Claude, Central Park, New York City, USA, April 2005.

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