Smooth peals of Curtis Mayfield offer the story,
a warning that repeats too many times in cities
all over the world. The third person turns into
love letter because each time the song plays
in the heads of young players, they think
I didn’t have to be here. Curtis keeps singing
as if he’s pointing out that a game is always
set for losers and winners who look nothing
like Harlem. Expect the next move to be
a against a jaw, a 2 x 4 in a dark hallway,
an overdose of a friend who knows too much.
Curtis knows it’s all finance, the brutality
of paper and coins, and a chess board is easily
checked by whoever can afford the most knights.
Sad, quiet eyes and plotting minds populate portraits
in the world’s cities, but not one of them is a still life
until they turn the wrong corner on the wrong day
fallen through the trap door of alley and after dark,
maybe the same places where their mamas called
them from before streetlights brightened into curfew
above their once small heads. Streetlights excite
more than dim living room lamps and glimmer
on a roach’s back. Each player imagines clothes
crisp as vines, Cadillacs with more shine than those
old streetlights, women like new leather coats
for every day of the week, while Curtis keeps ringing
in ears beneath taut brims holding each choice
as close as long lost relief pleading Let me be.
Let me be. Let me be.
—tara betts, little child runnin’ wild. (via black-poetry)
Oddly enough, relief rises when he opens the door.
The steady thud of his steps, a falling night stick.
He holds me & my heart thumps like the pulse
of red & blue lights. The helicopter whir of anxiety
slows its chopping in my chest. When he’s late,
my searchlight does not go black. I breathe deeper
knowing that his rights have not been read.
His wrists cuffed only by crisp shirt & his father’s
bracelet, shiny as a revolver just cleaned.
When he says hey baby, hey honey, it is
a soft, bright absence of siren and megaphone.
—tara betts, a soft, bright absence. (via black-poetry)
Rock’n’Roll be a Black Woman
Where you thank they got the name from?
Black Magic Woman
Copper strings stretched on guitar necks
Tan skirts taut on the mouths of drums
Rock’n’Roll be a Black Woman
Plucking as firmly as
Mashing of frets like delicate testicles
jangling under the discord…
What makes me so damn tragic?
not a fragmented exotic myster
jezebel born from the blood of rape
nor child of the so-called integration
I heard folks tell my momma
How can parents put children through that
It makes life so much harder,
I have seen my mind
build bridges within blood
1. There is no shame in writing slow. Your writing takes as long to develop as it takes. Writing is not a race. There is something very seductive about slow writing, about the care being given to the words when the writing happens at a more languorous pace. This is not to say fast writers don’t…
Happy 80th Birthday Nichelle Nichols! Ms. Nichols was born on December 28, 1932 in Robbins, IL and in this 1961 photo, Ms. Nichols rehearses a dance number with some of the cast from “Kicks and Co.,” a 1961 musical satire about segregation that was directed at one point by Lorraine Hansberry and produced by her husband). Although the show had major financial backing, an “all-star interracial cast” (Burgess Meredith, Lonnie Sattin, Vi Velasco) and success in Chicago, it never made it to Broadway as planned. Photo via The New York Public Library.
My favorite from bindersfullofwomen.tumblr.com.
“In contrast to the organizers of most surrealist groups in Europe and South America,” says Rosemont at the beginning of the chapter, “The 1950s Surrealist Underground in the United States”, “these U.S. guerrilla poets were of impeccable working class background. Both of them, moreover were black…Yes, the 1950’s surrealist underground in the United States was started by an informal committee of two.”