Homage to My Peruvian Brother
What fault do I have in wanting to know today the person/who no longer exists?/In wanting to know how many barefoot kids/were in the school,/How many elderly remained/sitting in the walkway,/How many sisters sell in that spot/that which matters to no one anyway
Inside Of Every Poem
Apply for jobs, apply for jobs, apply for jobs./Change my middle name to Wait./Apply for jobs some more/Inside of every poem is a God saying/Thank you for your interest but./ Browse the internet, sweep the floors, do the dishes.
The Food of Our Ancestors
I am from Eastern Nigeria/where the power of the wrestler/comes from Akpu and egusi soup/a region that eats Abacha/to celebrate harvest season/when Abacha is used to tell about/the birth of cassava, the time of cassava
visit wine capital Stellenbosch twice/mint rinsed in first splash of boiled water/be scalded by inequalities sousing all of these
Pharoah Sanders Donating Blood to Buy Food, 1962
And few of us feel unfairness more keenly/than artists caught between buying bread/and selling their souls, our markets incapable/of sustaining those who bear beautiful gifts
Our bodies need glorifying
Ripened mangoes, sliced watermelons/Discovering the girth of our throats/As our tongues paddle the depths of their fleshly rivers
food for thought
and why is there/this primal, human need to murder/to frenzy feed on human greed?
Suddenly realising what to do/You scooped a lump of the mixture/into your hand, dipped it into the angry lava and swallowed it/lump by lump until it disappeared
They spoke habanero
They believed it was their real life, real language, real food/primordial, liberating, and they wanted nothing else.
We Were Always Hungry
We never went hungry/unless our father locked us in our rooms without dinner. If mother failed to sneak/us a snack in her apron pocket, we ate toothpaste to fill our grumbling bellies.
The Famine Queen is so pleased to eat our food, tons/and tons of meat and butter; the Monarch’s/not keen to see our cankered fields, the skin/and bones our children are. We are not her/kind, no fancy tea at four; we do not eat scones;
There are worlds in here/There’s golden fire, a moon and a sunset both, a dusky pasture, a sweet sweet rain/There’s a farmer in a hat, loading his cart for the walk to a town you will never see.
She guards both your body and the wealth/of which you are the symptom, the/cause, the result, the cherry on the pie/Now you are crossing the emerald lawn/towards the main entrance like a knife
My body lies down/in muck and mire/taunts me with its needs/food, water, a place/to rest/My body walks/talks to people/asks for fifty cents/or a dollar, for a bus ride/to some place where it/can eat and drink
Sniffing glue out of Liqui Fruit juice boxes, the lost children stumble back out into the night, dreamless, in shoes they cannot walk in.
his trailer is crowded/with the others/here for la pisca/already planning the trip to/North Carolina or Georgia/for the strawberries/until Christmas/when Ybor City calls them
Read the Receipts
Not a nod to the lives whittled down/to sugar crystals, fingers that twisted/free each cotton boll 200,000/to make a bale. No mention/of ships funneling millions of/Africans to plantations far from/the cool green of Hadley/How the steel-blue Atlantic/laps against the unspoken/shores of our story.
Mammy Does the Morning Chores
And after breakfast, when your apron and head rag/Have been disheveled by batter and sweat/And your hunger and senses have been tempted to partake/But you must always wait, they order you still for more;
song for mashombela
but I want to drink/ from mphahlele’s/well of knowledge/tiptoe/behind the immortal lamps/of biko & sankara
How to Love Your Hair
When my dad delivered me/The first thing he saw/Was a thicket of black hair/Sticking out straight and wet/Like fur on a freshly licked kitten/It took a few months to curl into itself.
My feet can hardly resist dancing/but I, who worked all day butchering/plucking feathers from ducks, cleaning/vegetables, sweating at caldrons hung/over the hot fireplace must now wash dishes
Howlin’ Wolf’s Harp
He licked the harmonica only because he had to/spend the rest of his time swallowing the gristle/of separate but equal, and all the things awful/about the South–and North; no safe haven then/(& now);
Southern Report From Amy Jacques Garvey
Rubbing my finger against the barrel of the gun/you swore you’d never use, even after Tyler’s/bullet grazed your forehead. “No gun for me/If I am to be killed, then maybe it is my destiny,”/I was greeted by a host of nervous congregants.
Upper new York bay. uncle describes. he drives cab. knows all 50 states. he/says they are really 50 different countries. but one hate for dirt people/he’s supposed to pick me up. at drop spot.
Tami Sawyer/Made loud, sufficient noise/In her hometown of Memphis/In marshalling together youth & elders/In removing the toxicity of ages.
Certify This Land
Tell me protest fields will halt to morph into abattoirs every time/we demand for a sunny life, for a right to inhale and exhale, every night we want to resurrect strangled justice from its grave.
Crossing the stage, diploma in hand, sole flapping loose from the plastic heels/my mother shipped to me for thirty dollars more than what they cost/lipstickless mouth unmasked for the livestream/my parents were watching nine thousand miles away
Coming to America
we don’t speak English/the taxi driver takes us/to the wrong town/the teacher/gives me a new name/which I hate
Where I Am From
Where I am from, we count nights and not days/by day, we become one with the forest to evade bullets/and by night we search for the biggest holes to conceal our bodies.
In Case of Fire
In case of capture/this poem is reversible/Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o wrote a novel/on sheets of prison toilet paper/The blank side of this page/is suitable for ink, or similar markers/Improvise as needed/and good luck to you.
At Heaven’s Anteroom
There/At the anteroom of heaven/The land of the Free/The wealthy kingdom beyond those mountains afar/May the eyes that see you want you/May they smile in adoration/By how handsome a soul you are.