Yellow Comedy: a Parallel Poem
People call me yellow jack/Some hailed me as a yellow dog/When I yelped on my yellow legs/To flee from the yellow flu
This is the Drum
This is the drum that recovered myriad times/made of Cordia africana, stretched/over space, time and land, repaired/in Amerindian antelope and/deer skin, to begin again, uniting/the Akan, Virginian, Taino, and Carib.
Some Decolonial Notes on Yaa Gyasi’s Homegoing
Specifically, decolonial theory calls for the re-membering of dismembered peoples, this means an action to re-humanize dehumanized peoples of the world, because decolonial theory appreciates that all forms of oppression thrive precisely because grand-dehumanization is their operative agent.
What We Must Do to Survive
They call it the ultimate tropical paradise in those ads you see but ain’t nothing sweet about it when all you do is work and still after all that work, there is nothing to show.
The War Mindset
The collective tragedy Eritrea wears as a badge of honor touched my family, too.
Crossing Borders for an Elusive Betterment: Filipina and Chinese Women in Japan
Underlying marriage migration is this idea of the geographics of power, and the differentials in mobility and agency between sending and receiving communities.
How Do I Abandon the City?
How do I abandon the skeletons buried in my hipbone?/Pick my cells of wilful chromosomes/or chase the rascally child of my wandering to/the den of a famished road?
The cross is del otro lado, on the northern/side of the forbidden river/Gracias a Dios – it could be saying – /thank you, sweet Virgin, Virgencita/de Guadalupe, here we set our feet/on firm land again.
The mythical bridge
We are the first ones/Who went to Kemet/From the Kingdom of Kush/Without offending our ancestors
I Didn’t Know
I didn’t know/I’d be used to create a fractured dynasty/with no connection/to the land I left
Whenever they’d rise up from there/Jim Crow would beat them down again./Lesson learned; the law is not your friend.
She Presented the Governor of the C0lored Department a Watermelon
It may be imagined that Harriet stayed close/to her roots – remaining in the state of Georgia/after gaining freedom. Yet her quilting patterns /illustrate past family in Benin, West Africa
Like many/I do not know where in South Asia my ancestors were taken from generations ago/While much was lost in the pages of history/a steady thread that connects me remains
Returning to my mother’s eyes
I would return almost three decades later/to a corner supermarket – my mother’s room/A Telkom telephone booth/hangs outside the walls that contained her childhood.
Ode to Newark
Never would I imagine Newark to be a tourist destination or a dwelling for New Yorkers to squat at for cheaper rents.
What You Left Behind
It cut across your vein that ‘Black Life/ Matters’ you didn’t say it because you know/The future, that you are African/That you are the future.
In the Land of Queen Elizabeth’s Head
“In this country there are opportunities for all,” Boy Kennedy pointed out as he settled on his haunches to inspect the vehicle’s tyres. “Do you see how we now live in the land of Betty’s head?”
He had tried to fantasize about how his life would have turned out if he had never left Cuba.
Stolen from Africa
We run to and fro in frenzy/like violent waters in a broad river/We bump into each other/like sand particles in a whirlwind.
Jamaican Holiday, 2006
Dance my sister/Dance my spirit round your bones/Break the illiterate silence and contorted sterility of/My 21st century over-Americanized ethnicity, Sister.
Walking the Rain
Doors are rotten mouths/they shout in wooden frames, “Get out/you don’t fit here, what’s a sunny/old girl like you doing in these parts?”
Men his age had large pieces of land, and those who had small pieces at least had fertile pieces. Men his age had stable sources of income from employment or entrepreneurship. Most importantly, men his age had children, a wife, and maybe a girlfriend.
When cries/Sprinkled on the feet of tyrants/They were swept away/When bones sailed the Atlantic/Dreams drowned/Into the womb of the sea
what is a necktie if not a symbol/of white male domination/and decades of cultural oppression?/amid diminishing colonial powers/the archaic rules remain/codified in the house of parliament
Standing in front of the gold feline pendant/I recalled one of my previous incarnations./The jewelry had belonged to me/and now it was on display in the Museum of Fine Arts/where I and others stared at it.
Dealing with the unnatural heat
The sun/boiled the oranges into rust & the birds grew gills to swim/the heat. How many twirling fans died that year when we/gathered swollen leaves from sun baked drains? Even the/air conditioning breathed like a bloated river.
I remember in high school, explaining to friends/the racism of the cartoon, Speedy Gonzales. His/”arriba, arriba” grito just a Chicano shuck and jive./His campesino hat too big for even the sombrero dance.
They held such strength/I felt that I could fly/so I leapt/knowing the ripcord safety net belay were in place/Until they weren’t
Mofongo, A Sensory Memory
No matter the efforts of the/Spanish to erase the Boricuas/to whiten them via colonialism/mofongo, pasteles, and the/countless dishes are additions/to our culture and proof otherwise.
Billie Holiday’s Deathbed
Who are these men that know nothing/about the blues? Inspiring jinxed history/with officious ink–corrections bled red/outside the margins, ignored or overcome–/their shared voice, warning: Be more like me.
Doña Maria is/the despenadora, the one who/takes care of the suffering./ La que quita penas.
A Song for Grandmother: Daughters of Hoodoo
Can you see them/Those wide women/Wide like the earth/Dressed always in white/Ready soldiers of love
Once Was Black
Black shuns not in the respect of one another/It forgot the struggles of the previous generations./It isn’t unity anymore, everyone for yourself./Safe to say, once we were Black.
Black man you are on your own/In your own unmarked unknown grave/In your own land you do not own/With your own hands you own but lend to owners
Folding Time: Dear Descendant(s)
Trotting from place to place across Africa showed me more of her beauty and the abundance of wealth tucked within her.
How John Coltrane Learned to Play Jazz
Most people don’t know that when John Coltrane/wrote “A Love Supreme,” all he had to do was stargaze.
The Sympathy Orchestra
Conduct yourself with vigilance;/play your own instrument;
When Hakuna Matata Became a Phrase in English
The next time Hemingway would again consider Africa as a travel destination was in 1954. He came accompanied by his fourth and last wife, Mary, with the intention to explore Belgian Congo, Uganda, and Kenya.
commonwealth primer for the children of empire
commonwealth/common wealth/common weal/commonstealth/common steal
Control, prosecute, sanction
Xenophobia is naturalized,/rational,/no need for Le Pen,/Macron is in charge,/Darmanin is on the clock.