Songs and Rap

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					Songs and Rap

                                           Shape of My Heart
He deals the cards as a meditation
And those he plays never suspect
he doesn‟t play for the money he wins
He doesn‟t play for respect

He deals the cards to find the answer
The sacred geometry of chance
The hidden law of a probable outcome
The numbers lead a dance

I know that the spades are the swords of a soldier
I know that the clubs are the weapons of war
I know that diamonds mean money for this art
But that‟s not the shape of my heart

He may play the Jack of Diamonds
He may lay the Queen of Spades
He may conceal a King in his hand
While the memory of it fades

Repeat chorus

And if I told you that I loved you
You‟d maybe think there‟s something wrong
I‟m not a man of too many faces
The mask I wear is one

Those who speak know nothing
And find out to their cost
Like those who curse their luck in too many places
And those who smile are lost

Repeat chorus


                                         The Hounds of Winter
Mercury falling
I rise from my bed.
Collect my thoughts together
I have to hold my head
It seems that she‟s gone
And somehow I am pinned by
The Hounds of winter
Howling in the wind

I walk through the day
My coat around my ears
I look for my companion
I have to dry my tears
it seems that she‟s gone
Leaving me too soon
I‟m as dark as December
I‟m as cold as the Man in the Moon

I still see her face
As beautiful as day
It‟s easy to remember
Remember my love that way
All I hear is that lonesome sound
The Hounds of Winter
They follow me down

I can‟t make up the fire
The way that she could
I spend all my days
In the search for dry wood
Board all the windows and close
The front door
I can‟t believe she won‟t be here

(Repeat chorus)
A season for joy
A season for sorrow
Where she‟s gone
I will surely , surely follow
She brightened my day
She warmed the coldest night
The Hounds of Winter
They got me in their sights

I still see her face
As beautiful as day
It‟s easy to remember
Remember my love that way
All I hear is that lonesome sound
The Hounds of Winter
They harry me down.


                                    The Revolution Will Not Be Televised
                                                                 Gil Scott- Heron

You will not be able to stay at home, brother.
You will not be able to plug in, turn on and drop out.
You will not be able to lose yourself on skag and skip,
Skip out for beer during commercials.
Because the revolution will not be televised.

The revolution will not be televised.

The revolution will not be brought to you by Xerox
In 4 parts without commercial interruptions.
The revolution will not show you pictures of Nixon
Blowing a bugle and leading a charge by John Mitchell,
General Abrams and Spiro Agnew to eat
Hog maws confiscated from a Harlem sanctuary.

The revolution will not be televised.

The revolution will be brought to you by the Schafer Award Theatre and
will not star Natalie Wood and Steve McQueen or Bullwinkle and Julia.
The revolution will not give your mouth sex appeal.
the revolution will not get rid of your nubs.
The revolution will not make you look five pounds
Thinner, because the revolution will not be televised, Brother.

There will be no pictures of Willie Mays
pushing that cart down the block on the dead run,
Or trying to slide that color television into a stolen ambulance.
NBC will not predict the winner at 8:32 or the count from 29 districts.

The revolution will not be televised.

There will be no pictures of pigs shooting down
Brothers in the instant replay.
There will be no pictures of Young being
Run out of Harlem on a rail with a brand new process
There will be no slow motion or still life of
Roy Wilkens strolling through Watts in a red, black and
Green liberation jumpsuit that he had been saving
For just the right occasion.
Green Acres, The Beverly Hillbillies, and
Hooterville Junction will no longer be so damned relevant,
and Women will not care if Dick finally gets down with
Jane on Search for Tomorrow because Black People
will be in the street looking for a brighter day.

The revolution will not be televised.

There will be no highlights on the eleven o‟clock news
and no pictures of hairy armed women liberationists and
Jackie Onassis blowing her nose.
The theme song will not be written by Jim Webb, Francis Scott Key,
not sung by Glenn Campbell, Tom Jones, Johnny Cash,
Englebert Humperdink, or Rare Earth.

The revolution will not be televised.

The revolution will not be right back after a message
About a white tornado, white lightning, or white people.
You will not have to worry about a dove in your bedroom,
A tiger in your tank, or the giant in your toilet bowl.
The revolution will not go better with Coke.
The revolution will not fight the germs that cause bad breath.
The revolution Will put you in the driver‟s seat.
The revolution will not be televised,

Will not be televised, WILL NOT BE TELEVISED.

The revolution will be no re-run brothers;
The revolution will be live.

-John Mitchell, General Abrams and Spiro Agnew were politicians during the Nixon administration. Agnew
was the Vice President during the first 4 years.
-Hog maws are the pig‟s stomach.
- Julia was the first African- American television show about a widowed Black woman and her son.
- Willie Mays - a baseball player
-”pigs” - slang for police
- Roy Wilkens was head of the NAACP during the late 60‟s and early 70‟s.
-Watts is a section of Los angeles where many poor African-Americans live.
- Green Acres and The Beverly Hillbillies were 60‟s sitcoms.
-Hooterville was a town on Petticoat Junction- a 60‟s sitcom.
- Search For Tomorrow was a 60‟s soap opera.
- Jim Webb was a popular song writer.
- Glenn Campbell, Tom Jones, Johnny Cash, and Englebert Humperdink were popular singers.
-Rare Earth was a popular White band produced by Motown.
- White Tornado, Tiger in your tank, and the giant in your toilet bowl refer to popular t.v. commercial
- White Lightning is another name for Moonshine.
-Putting someone in the drivers‟ seat was from another popular t.v... commercial slogan from Hertz rental


                                            Give a Man a Fish
                                                        Arrested Development

Lately I‟ve been in a life like limbo
Looking out of a smudges up window
We‟re not sure where our lives are going
Friends, it‟s summer outside but yet we‟re snowed in
Don‟t know where our next dollar‟s coming from
Living the life of a poor musician
Headliner‟s strong so he keep his 9 to 5
Cutting brothers „ hair as a means of staying alive
If it wasn‟t for the rhythm
I think we would have given up by now
This system has gotten the best of me
Now I pray for God to invest in me
My dignity, invest his glory
Give me the strength so I can finish the story
Keep on searching for the right way to go out
coz going out is what it‟s all about
huh! You can‟t be passive, gotta be active
Can‟t go with what looks attractive
Gotta learn all I can while I‟m able
Headliner expressed his feeling on those turntables
When we get our chance
to make a good living of the music we program
We don‟t sell out just to be sold out
Brothers and sisters, do you know what I‟m yapping about?
Coz if they take away our contract
we still got talent and we still got contacts
Coz we‟re worked real hard to get this far
We‟re catching the bus before we bought the car
Ya see!

Give a man a fish, and he‟ll eat for a day
Teach him how to fish and he‟ll eat forever (2x)
Got to get political
Political I gotta get
Grown but can‟t hold my own
So this government needs to be overthrown
Brothers with the AKs and 9MMs
need to learn how to correctly shoot „em
Save those rounds for a revolution
Poor whites and blacks bumrushing the system
But I tell you: ain‟t no room for gangstaz
Coz gangstaz do dirty work and get pimped by mobsters
Some fat Italian eating pasta „n lobster
Brothers getting jailed and mobsters own the coppers
so you want out of the ghetto
First the political prisoners must be let go
And you must let go of your power master
You‟ll never get out without much discipline
Raise your fist but also raise your children
So when you die the movement moves on
Coz with revolution, ain‟t no future in front o‟ y‟all
huh! direct your anger, love
Nothing‟s ever built on hate, instead love
Love your life, tackle the government
The spooks that break down the door are heaven sent
and my phrase went...
all right!
Rhythm makes you move your body, rhythm makes you move your mind
Rhythm makes your elbows groove, rhythm makes that behind move
Rhythm makes the people move, rhythm makes you want to move
Rhythm makes your mind soothe, next stop is Jerusalem.

                                      Revolutionary Generation
                                                     Public Enemy

I get down to what it is
And if it ain‟t funky (see ya)
People askin‟ me what‟s goin‟ on
With my mind
(Huh) wait a minute

It‟s just a matter of race
Cause a black male‟s in their face
Step back for the new jack swing
On the platter scatter huh
We got our own thing
Just jam to the rhythm run
Day to day, America eats it‟s young
And defeats our women
There is a gap so wide we all can swim in
Drown in (uh get down) and get it
Got it goin‟ on with it
Sister (hey) soul sister
We goin'‟ be all right
It takes a man to take a stand
Understand it takes a
Woman to make a stronger man
(As we both get strong)
They‟ll call me a crazy Asiatic
While I‟m singin‟ a song
Oh my god, oh my lord

I can‟t hold back
But I get exact on a track
It‟s an eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth
Forget about me
Just set my sister free
R-E-S-P-E-C-T my sisters, not my enemy
(Cause we‟ll be stronger together)
And make the suckers say
(Damn) this generation

They don‟t know what we got goin‟ is (sound)
To turn it all around
To my sisters I communicate
With the bass and tone
Thru speakers and the microphone
Cause I‟m tired of America dissin‟ my sisters
(For example, like the dissed Tawana)
and they try to say she‟s a liar
My people don‟t believe it
But even now they‟re getting higher
Of the feeling inspiration
(They teach us how to dis our sisters)
Strange as you say, I say revolution
Need for change brings on revolution
The great book just look see solution.

God chooses who and what for the bruisin‟
There‟s been no justice for none of my sisters
Just us been the ones that been missin‟ her
Now we got to protect
We get together and damn this generation

I said so to what it is
Where it is
She needs a li‟l respect
There it is
I say she needs a lotta
Brother from a mother like me has gotta
Give it up
Give it now
And pass it all around
to my soul ( sister)

They disrespected mama and treated her like dirt
America took her, reshaped her, raped her
Nope, it never made the paper
Beat us, mated us
Made us attack our women in black
So I said sophisticated B, don‟t be one
Not to head the warning crack of dawn
Or is it the dawn of crack?
Stop the talk they say, but
We talk and say whats right or wrong
Some say we wasting time singin‟ a song
But why is it that we‟re many different shades
Black woman‟s privacy invaded years and years
You cannot count my mama‟s tears
It‟s not the past but the future‟s what she fears
Strong we be strong
The next generation
it‟s not who we are facin‟
The fingers pointed to us in our direction
Word to the mother we tighten connection
This generation generates a new attitude
Sister to you we should not be rude
So we come together
And make „em all say
Damn this generation.

                                             Run Nigger
                                                     Abiodun Oyewole
I understand that time is running out
I understand that time is running out
time is running out as hastily
as niggers run from the man
time is running out
on lifeless serpents
reigning over a living kingdom time is running out of talks
marches tunes chants and prayers
time is running out of time
I heard someone say
things were changing
from Brown to Black
time is running out on Bullshit changes
running out like a brushfire in a dry forest
like a murder from the scene of the crime
like a little roach from DDT
Time is running out
like big niggers run on a football field
Run Nigger
killing your children
run Nigger
taking your life
Run Nigger
Run like you run
when the liquor store is closing
and it‟s Saturday night
Run Nigger
Run like time
never yielding or forgiving
moving forward
in progressive movements
never warning or relinquishing
Time is running, running, running
time‟s done run OUT!

                                    When the Revolution Comes
                                                     Abiodun Oyewole

when the revolution comes some of us will catch it on TV
with chicken hanging from our mouths
you‟ll know it‟s revolution
because there won‟t be any commercials
when the revolution comes

preacher pimps are gonna split the scene
with the common wine stuck in their back pockets
faggots won‟t be so funny then
and all the junkies will quit their nodding
and wake up
when the revolution comes
transit cops will be crushed
by the trains after losing their guns
blood will run through the streets of Harlem
drowning anything without substance
when the revolution comes
Revolution will be silent
I hope pearly white teeth fall out of mouths
that speak of revolution without reference
the course of revolution is 360
understand the cycle that never ends
understand the beginning to be the end
and nothing in between but space and time
that I make or you make to relate or not to relate
to this world outside my mind, your mind
speak not of revolution until
you are willing to eat rats to survive
when the revolution comes
when the revolution comes
Black cultural centers will be forts
supplying the revolutionaries with food and arms
white death will fall off the walls
of museums and churches
breaking the lie that enslaved our mothers
when the revolution comes
jesus christ is gonna be standing
on the corner of Malcolm X blvd and 125th St.
trying to catch the first gypsy cab out of Harlem
when the revolution comes
women are gonna look like women
and men are gonna look like men again
when the revolution comes
but until then you know and I know that niggers will party and bullshit
and party and bullshit and party and bullshit and party
and some might even die
before the revolution comes.

                                      Ego Tripping
                               (there may be a reason why)
                                                  Nikki Giovanni
I was born in the congo
I walked to the fertile crescent and built
        the sphinx
I designed a pyramid so tough that a star
        that only glows every one hundred years falls
        into the center giving divine perfect light.
I am bad.

I sat on the throne
         drinking nectar with allah
I got hot and sent an ice age to europe
         to cool my thirst
My oldest daughter is nefertiti
         the tears from my birth pains
         created the nile
I am a beautiful woman

I gazed on the forest and burned
        out the sahara desert
        with a packet of goat‟s meat
and a change of clothes
I crossed it in two hours
I am a gazelle so swift
        so swift you can‟t catch me

        For a birthday present when he was three
I gave my son hannibal an elephant
        He gave me rome for mother‟s day
My strength flows ever on

My son noah built new/ark and
I stood proudly at the helm
         as we sailed on a soft summer day
I turned myself into myself and was
         men intone my loving name
         All praises All praises
I am the one who would save

I sowed diamonds in my back yard
My bowels deliver uranium
         the filings from my fingernails are
         semi-precious jewels
         On a trip north
I caught a cold and blew
My nose giving oil to the arab world
I am so hip even my errors are correct
I sailed west to reach east and had to round off
         the earth as I went

                 The hair from my head thinned and gold was laid
                 across three continents

        I am so perfect so divine so ethereal so surreal
        I cannot be comprehended
                except by my permission

        I mean...I...can fly
                like a bird in the sky....

                                                  Black Power
                                                           Nikki Giovanni

( For All the Beautiful Black Panthers East)

But the whole thing is a miracle -- See?

We were just standing there
talking -- not touching or smoking
When this cop told
Move along buddy --- take your whores
outa here

And this tremendous growl
From out of nowhere
Pounced on him

Nobody to this very day
Can explain
How it happened

And none of the zoos or circuses
Within fifty miles
Had reported
A panther


                                       Once a Lady Told Me
                                                 Nikki Giovanni
like my mother and her grandmother before
i paddle around the house
in soft-soled shoes
chasing ghosts from corners
with incense
they are such a disturbance my ghosts
they break my bric-a-brac and make
me forget to turn my heating stove

the children say you must come to live
with us          all my life i told them i‟ve lived
with you                   now i shall live with myself

the grandchildren say it‟s disgraceful
you in this dark house with the curtains
pulled                    snuff dripping from your chin
would they be happier if i smoked                   cigarettes

i was very exquisite once            very small and well courted
some would say a beauty when my hair was plaited
and i was bustled up

my children wanted my life
and now they want my death

but i shall pad around my house
in my purple soft-soled shoes
i‟m very happy now
it‟s not so very neat, you know, but it‟s my

                                         Lift Every Voice and Sing
                                                          James Weldon Johnson

Lift every voice and sing
Till earth and heaven ring,
Ring with the harmonies of Liberty;
Let our rejoicing rise
High as the listening skies,
Let it resound loud as the rolling sea.
Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us,
Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us,
Facing the rising sun of our new day begun
Let us march on till victory is won.

Stony the road we trod,
Bitter the chastening rod,
Felt in the days when hope unborn had died;
Yet with a steady beat,
Have not our weary feet
come to the place for which our fathers sighed?
We have come over a way that with tears has been watered,
We have come, treading our path through the blood of the slaughtered,
Out from the gloomy past,
Till now we stand at last
Where the white gleam of our bright star is cast.

God of our weary years,
God of our silent tears,
Thou who hast brought us thus far on the way;
Thou who hast by Thy might
Led us into the light,
Keep is forever in the path, we pray.
Lest our feet stray from the places, our god, where we met Thee;
Lest our hearts drunk with the wine of the world, we forget Thee;
Shadowed beneath Thy hand,
May we forever stand.
True to our God,
True to our native land.


                                               We Wear the Mask
                                                        Paul Laurence Dunbar
We wear the mask that grins and lies,
it hides our cheeks and shades our eyes,--
This debt we pay to human guile;
With torn and bleeding hearts we smile,
and mouth with myriad subtleties.

Why should the world be over-wise,
In counting all our tears and sighs?
nay, let them only see us, while
         We wear the mask.

We smile, but, O great Christ, our cries
To thee from tortured souls arise.
We sing, but oh the clay is vile
Beneath our feet, and long the mile;
But let the world dream other-wise,
         We wear the mask!

                                                       Paul Laurence Dunbar

I know what the caged bird feels, alas!
When the sun is bright on the upland slopes;
When the wind stirs soft through the springing grass,
And the river flows like a stream of glass;
When the first bird sings and the first bud opes,
And the faint perfume from its chalice steals--
I know what the caged bird feels!

I know why the caged bird beats his wing
Till its blood is red on the cruel bars;
For he must fly back to his perch and cling
When he fain would be on the bough a-swing;
And a pain still throbs in the old, old scars
And they pulse again with a keener sting--
I know why he beats his wing!

I know why the caged bird sings, ah me,
When his wing is bruised and his bosom sore,
when he beats his bars and would be free;
It is not a carol of joy or glee,
But a prayer that he sends from his heart‟s deep core,
But a plea, that upward to Heaven he filings --
I know why the caged bird sings!


                                           Theme for English B
                                                       Langston Hughes
The instructor said,
        Go home and write
        a page tonight.
        And let that page come out of you--
        Then it will be true.

I wonder if it‟s that simple?
I am twenty-two, colored, born in Winston-Salem,
I went to school there, then Durham, then here
to this college on the hill above Harlem.
I am the only colored student in my class.
The steps from the hill lead down into Harlem,
through a park, then I cross St. Nicholas,
Eighth Avenue, Seventh , and I come to the Y,
the Harlem Branch Y, where I take the elevator
up to my room, sit down, and write this page:

It‟s not easy to know what is true for you or me
at twenty-two, my age. But I guess I‟m what
I feel and see and hear, Harlem, I hear you:
hear you, hear me --we two-- you, me, talk on this page.
(I hear New York, too.) Me-- who?
Well, I like to eat, sleep, drink and be in love.
I like to work, read, learn and understand life.
I like a pipe for a Christmas present,
or records -- Bessie, bop, or Bach.
I guess being colored doesn‟t make me not like
the same things other folks like who are other races.
So will my page be colored that I write?
being me, it will not be white.
But it will be
a part of you, instructor.
You are white --
yet a part of me, as I am a part of you.
That‟s American.
sometimes perhaps you don‟t want to be a part of me.
Nor do I often want to be a part of you.
But we are, that‟s true!
As I learn from you,
I guess you learn from me --
although you‟re older -- and white--
and somewhat more free.

This is my page for English B.


                                             Suicide’s Note
                                                        Langston Hughes
The calm,
Cool face of the river
Asked me for a kiss.


                                             Mother to Son
                                                        Langston Hughes
Well, son, I‟ll tell you:
Life for me ain‟t been no crystal stair.
It‟s had tacks in it,
And splinters,
And boards torn up,
And places with no carpet on the floor --
But all the time

I‟se been a-climbin‟ on,
And reachin‟ landin‟s,
And turnin‟ corners,
And sometimes goin‟ in the dark
Where there ain‟t been no light.
So don‟t you turn back.
Don‟t you set down on the steps
„Cause you finds it kinder hard.
don‟t you fall now --
For I‟se still goin‟ honey,
I‟se still climbin‟,
And life for me ain‟t been no crystal stair.


                                                We Real Cool
                                                        Gwendolyn Brooks

                                           THE POOL PLAYERS.
                                         SEVEN AT THE GOLDEN SHOVEL.

We real cool. We
left school. We

Lurk late. We
Strike straight. We

Sing sin. We
Thin gin. We

Jazz June. We
Die soon.


                                                 The Mother
                                                        Gwendolyn Brooks
Abortions will not let you forget,
You remember the children you got that you did not get,
The damp small pulps with a little or no hair,
The singers and workers that never handled the air.
You will never neglect or beat
Them, or silence or buy with a sweet.
You will never wind up the sucking-thumb
or scuttle off ghosts that come.
You will never leave them, controlling your luscious sigh,
Return for a snack of them, with gobbling mother-eye.

I have heard in the voices of the wind the voices of my dim killed children.
I have contracted. I have eased
My dim dears at the breasts they could never suck.
I have said, Sweets, if I sinned, if I seized Your luck
And your lives from your unfinished reach,
If I stole your births and your names,
your straight baby tears and your games,
Your stilted or lovely loves, your tumults, your marriages,
          aches, and your deaths,

if I poisoned the beginnings of your breaths,
Believe that even in my deliberateness I was not deliberate.
Though why should I whine,
Whine that the crime was other than mine?--
Since anyhow you are dead.
or rather, or instead,
You were never made,
But that too, I am afraid,
Is faulty: oh, what shall I say, How is the truth to be said?
You were born, you had a body, you died.
It is just that you never giggled or planned or cried.

Believe me, I loved you all.
Believe me, I knew you, though faintly, and loved, I loved you


                                             But He was Cool
                                                 or: he even stopped for green lights
                                                                       Haki Madhubuti

a tan/purple
had a beautiful shade.

he had a double-natural
that wd put the sisters to shame.
his dashikis were tailor made
& his beads were imported sea shells
        (from some blk/country i never heard of)
he was triple-hip.

his tikis were hand carved
out of ivory
& came express from the motherland.
he would greet u in swahili
& say good-by in yoruba.

woooooooooooo-jim he bes so cool & ill tel li gent
                  cool-cool is so cool he was un-cooled by
                              other nigger‟s cool
                  cool-cool ultracool was bop-cool/ice box
                              cool so cool cold cool
                 his wine didn‟t have to be cooled, him was
                              air conditioned cool
                  cool-cool. real cool made me cool - now
                              ain‟t that cool
                   cool-cool so cool him nick-named refrigerator.

cool-cool so cool
he didn‟t know
after detroit, newark, chicago,&c.,
we had to hip
                  cool-cool/ super cool/ real cool
to be black
to be


                                             An Open Letter to Myself
                                                             nicole breedlove

                                                                              I didn‟t mean                ate spaghetti
                                                                               for it to happen             and ketchup
like this                                                                                       and slept next to
                                                                          (my life that is)                  twelve cats
                                                            I don‟t want it                            that lay across
                                                                  remembered                                    the place
                                                that welfare                                           where my spirit
                                            brought us things                                      should have been
                                                                       we didn‟t want                     I don‟t want it
                                                                                And my brother                      noted
                                                       joined the army                             that I was running
                                                                      to get away                       from the mafia
                                                  from the government                          chasing off the ghosts
                                                                    I don‟t want it                   and hiding from
                                                                                  written                   the landlord
                                                       that I packed my bags                       I don‟t want it said
               left them at a friend‟s                                                              but I‟m telling you
                                                         and slept                          because if it must be told
                                                                on the D train                                the D train
                                                                    for a month                       really fucked up
                                                 until I lived                                          my lower back
                 under my friend‟s bed                                                          and if it must be told
                                       I don‟t want it                                                  make sure the
      mentioned                                                                                  Library of Congress
    that I slept                                                                                               is notified
                                                                                                               on a floor
                               in my office                                                             This has been
                                                before I moved                                         a brief moment
                                               to Bensonhurst                                         in Black History


                                                 That Kind of Blues
                                                              will sales

I‟ve got the kind of blues
that leaves your mouth bone dry
like a red hot fever inside.
It‟s like you got the news
in a telegram
that part of you just died.

You know the kind of blues
that makes a good stiff drink
taste weak as a glass of milk,
leaves you mean and evil
as a coiled-up snake,
deadly as a razor blade

wrapped in silk,
that kind of blues.

So I lie all night alone in bed,
one-third alive and two-thirds dead,
visions of suicide dance thru my head
„cause its that kind of blues.

It‟s the kind of blues
that makes a preacher cuss
and the devil break down and cry,
the kind of blues
that lays you down so low
six feet deep is high.
It‟s that kind of blues.

It‟s the kind of blues
that makes a strong, young man
feel as old as his great-grandpa.
the kind of blues
that makes a boy leave home
when he catches the landlord
in bed with his ma.
That kind of blues.

so I beg and steal
and pawn all I got
to stay on my diet of cocaine and pot
and still I‟m all fucked up
and tied in a knot,
„cause it‟s that kind of blues.

It‟s the kind of blues
that makes a mother wrap
her newborn baby
in a garbage sack.
the kind of blues
that makes a man become
chopped-up meat
on a railroad track.
That kind of blues.

It‟s the kind of blues
if you ain‟t never met „em,
I hope like a motherfucker
you ain‟t never gonna get „em.
It‟s like slipping down slowly
in a quicksand ditch.
It‟s like scratching outside
for an inside itch.
That kind of blues
is a son of a bitch.
that kind of blues.


                                          Facing It
                                                  Yusef Komunyakaa
My black face fades,
hiding inside the black granite.
I said I wouldn‟t ,
dammit: No tears.
I‟m stone. I‟m flesh.
My clouded reflection eyes me
like a bird of prey, the profile of night
slanted against morning. I turn
this way -- the stone lets me go.
I turn that way-- I‟m inside
the Vietnam Veterans memorial
again, depending on the light
to make a difference.
I go down the 58,022 names,
half-expecting to find
my own in letters like smoke.
I touch the name Andrew Johnson;
I see the booby trap‟s white flash.
Names shimmer on a woman‟s blouse
but when she walks away
the names stay on the wall.
Brushstrokes flash, a red bird‟s
wings cutting across my stare.
The sky. A plane in the sky.
A white vet‟s image floats
closer to me, then his pale eyes
look through mine. I‟m a window.
He‟s lost his right arm
inside the stone. In the black mirror
a woman‟s trying to erase names:
No, she‟s brushing a boy‟s hair.


                                  Preface to a Twenty Volume Suicide Note
                                     For Kellie Jones, born 16 May 1959
                                               By Amiri Baraka

Lately, I‟ve become accustomed to the way
The ground opens up and envelops me
Each time I go out to walk the dog.
Or the broad edged silly music the wind
Makes when I run for a bus…

Things have come to that.

And now, each night I count the stars,
And each night I get the same number.
And when they will not come to be counted,
I count the holes they leave.

Nobody sings anymore.

And then last night, I tiptoed up
To my daughter‟s room and heard her
Talking to someone, and when I opened
The door, there was no one there…
Only she on her knees, peeking into

Her own clasped hands.

Latino/Latina Poetry

                                                         Pat Mora

My Spanish isn‟t enough.
I remember how I‟d smile
listening to my little ones,
understanding every word they‟d say,
their jokes, their songs, their plots.
           Vamos a pedirle dulces a mama. Vamos.
But that was in Mexico.
Now my children go to American high schools.
They speak English, At night they sit around
the kitchen table, laugh with one another.
I stand by the stove and feel dumb, alone.
I bought a book to learn English.
My husband frowned, drank more beer.
My oldest said, “Mama, he doesn‟t want you
to be smarter than he is.” I‟m forty,
embarrassed at mispronouncing words,
embarrassed at the laughter of my children,
the grocer, the mailman. sometimes I take
my English book and lock myself in the bathroom,
say the thick words softly,
for if I stop trying, I will be deaf
when my children need my help.
                                                    David Hernandez

                               When I was little and brown
                        The humming plane stopped
                 Midway Field was there
           And I was proud of my blue shorts
           White shirt
           Blue socks
           White shoes
           True Puerto
           Rican proud.
Excited by Colgate smiles
Like the ads nailed
To my town‟s walls.
So I was confused
And shivered
When the December
Chicago wind
Slapped my face.

                                          So Mexicans Are
                                     Taking Jobs from Americans
                                                      Jimmy Santiago Baca

O Yes? do they come on horses
with rifles, and say,
                  Ese, gringo, gimmee you job?
And do you, gringo, take off your ring,

drop your wallet into a blanket
spread over the ground, and walk away?

I hear Mexicans are taking your jobs away.
Do they sneak into town at night,
and as you‟re walking home with a whore,
do they mug you, a knife at your throat,
saying I want your job?

Even on T.V., an asthmatic leader
crawls turtle heavy, leaning on an assistant, and from a nest of wrinkles on his face, a tongue paddles
through flashing waves
of lightbulbs, of cameramen, rasping
“ They‟re taking our jobs away.”

Well, I've gone about trying to find them,
asking just where the hell are these fighters.

The rifles I hear sound in the night
are white farmers shooting blacks and browns
whose ribs I see jutting out
and starving children,
I see the poor marching for a little work,
I see small white farmers selling out
to clean-suited farmers living in New York, who‟ve never been on a farm,
don‟t know the look of a hoof or the smell
of a woman‟s body bending all day long in fields.

I see this, and I hear only a few people
got all the money in this world, the rest
count their pennies to buy bread and butter.
Below that cool green sea of money,
millions and millions of people fight to live,
search for pearls in the darkest depths
of their dreams, hold their breath for years
trying to cross poverty to just having something.

The children are dead already. We are killing them,
that is what American should be saying;
on TV, in the streets, in offices, should be saying
“We aren‟t giving the children a chance to live.”

Mexicans are taking our jobs, they say instead.
What they really say is, let them die,
and the children too.

                                              Depression Days
                                                         Pat Mora

I buy the dark with my last fifteen cents.
Reel after reel, I hide on the decks with men
who fill their chests with salt air of the high seas,
who sing, “Red Sails in the Sunset.”
I try not to think of the men who climbed
on the cold truck with me this morning,
stomachs screechy as gears. We were hungry
for paychecks. I try not to think

of last night on my cot, my private reel,
me a border kid, smelling Colorado, gripping an ax,
slicing that cold pine
smell, playing CCC lumberjack
in a house dark from my father‟s death.

Our skin puckered this morning, shrank from the desert
wind that slid into the wooden barracks herding us
around the stove‟s warm belly, my joke to the doc,
“Am I alive?” limp as the clothes bags around our necks.

I try not to think of the sergeant spitting, “Delgado”
and I step from the line, his glare at my dumbness.
„I said Delgado,” me saying, “ I am Delgado.”
The twitch of his lips. The wind.

Then his “See me later,” later trying not to hear
his brand of kindness, “ You don‟t look Mexican, Delgado.
Just change your name and you‟ve got a job.
My father eyeing me.

So I buy the dark with my last fifteen cents.
I try not to think of the bare ice box, my mother‟s always sad eyes, of my father who never understood
this country, of the price of eggs and names and skin.

                                         Behind Grandma’s House
                                                       Gary Soto

At ten I wanted fame. I had a comb
And two Coke bottles, a tub of Bryl-creem.
I borrowed a dog, one with
Mismatched eyes and a happy tongue,
And wanted to prove I was tough
In the alley, kicking over trash cans,
A dull chime of tuna cans falling.
I hurled light bulbs like grenades
And men teachers held their heads,
Fingers of blood lengthening
On the ground. I flicked rocks at cats,
Their goofy faces spurred with foxtails.
I kicked fences, I shooed pigeons.
I broke a branch from a flowering peach
And frightened ants with a stream of piss.
I said, “ Shit,” “ Fuck you,” and “ No way
Daddy-O” to an imaginary priest
Until grandma came into the alley,
her apron flapping in a breeze,
Her hair mussed, and said, “Let me help you,”
And punched me between the eyes.

                                             Poet’s Obligation
                                                         Pablo Naruda

To whoever is not listening to the sea
this Friday

morning, to whoever is cooped up
in house or office, factory or woman
or street or mine or harsh prison cell:
to him I come, and, without speaking or looking,
I arrive and open the door of his prison,
and a vibration starts up, vague and insistent,
the rumble of the planet and the foam,
the raucous rivers of the ocean flood,
the star vibrates swiftly in its corona,
and the sea is beating, dying and continuing.

So, drawn on by my destiny,
I ceaselessly must listen to and keep
the sea‟s lamenting in my awareness,
I must feel the crash of the hard water
and gather it up in a perpetual cup
so that, wherever those in prison may be,
wherever they suffer the autumn‟s castigation,
I may move, passing through windows,
and hearing me, eyes will glance upward
saying, „How can I reach the sea?‟
And I shall broadcast, saying nothing,
the starry echoes of the wave,
a breaking up of foam and of quicksand,
a rustling of salt withdrawing,
the grey cry of sea-birds on the coast.

So, through me, freedom and the sea
will make their answer to the shuttered heart.

                                                    Pablo Naruda

And it was at that age... Poetry arrived
in search of me. I don‟t know, I don‟t know where
it came from, from winter or a river.
I don‟t know how or when,
no, they were not voices, they were not words, nor silence,
but from a street I was summoned,
from the branches of night,
abruptly from the others,
among violent fires
or returning alone,
there I was without a face
and it touched me.

I did not know what to say, my mouth
had no way
with names,
my eyes were blind,
and something started in my soul, fever or forgotten wings,
and I made my own way,
that fire,
and I wrote the first faint line,
faint, without substance, pure
pure wisdom

of someone who knows nothing,
and suddenly I saw
the heavens
unfastened and open,
palpitating plantations
shadow perforated,
with arrows, fire, and flowers,
the winding night, the universe.

And I, infinitesimal being, drunk with the great starry
likeness, image of
felt myself a pure part
of the abyss,
I wheeled with the stars,
my heart broke loose on the wind.


                                                  Sight, Touch
                                                   To Balthus
                                                          Octavio Paz

Light holds between its hands
the white hill and black oaks,
the path that goes on,
the tree that stays;

light is a stone that breathes
by the sleepwalking river, light: a girl stretching,
a dark bundle dawning;

light shapes the breeze in the curtains,
makes a living body from each hour,
enters the room and slips out,
barefoot, on the edge of a knife;

light is born a woman in a mirror,
naked under diaphanous leaves,
chained by a look,
dissolved in a wink;

it touches the fruit and the unbodied,
it is a pitcher from which the eye drinks clarities,
a flame cut in blossom, a candle watching
where the blackwinged butterfly burns;

Light opens the folds of the sheets
and the creases of puberty,
glows in the fireplace, its flames become shadows
that climb the walls, yearning ivy‟
light does not absolve or condemn,
is neither just or unjust,
light with impalpable hands raises
the buildings of symmetry;
light escapes through a passage of mirrors
and returns to light;
is a hand that invents itself,
an eye that sees itself in its own inventions.

Light is time reflecting on time.

                                         Two Mexicans lynched in
                                          Santa Xruz, California,
                                               May 3, 1877
                                                        Martin Espada

More than the moment
when forty gringo vigilantes
cheered the rope
that snapped two Mexicanos
into the grimacing sleep of broken necks,

more than the floating corpses,
trussed like cousins of the slaughterhouse,
dangling in the bowed mute humility
of the condemned,

more than the Virgens de Guadalupe
who blesses the brownskinned
and the crucified,
or the guitar-plucking skeletons
they will become
on the Dia de los Muertos,

Remain the faces of the lynching party:
faded as pennies from 1877, a few stunned
in the blur of execution,
a high-collared boy smirking, some peering
from the shade of bowler hats, but all
crowding into the photograph.


                                                 Mi tia, Puerto Rico
                                                               Nancy Mercado

Juanita between sugar canes
Peeking through a wonderful face,
Splendid eyes,
beautifully shaped nose & lips
To speak melodies with,
Beaming bronze skin,
Perfection of an earthly figure
Strolling through the plaza square.

Breathing life into the dead,
Medium of light that makes us all so happy.
Materializing miracles from impossibilities,
providing food from soil,
Creating homes from ashes,

Teaching tolerance by living.

The eye against harm,
Keeper of the key
Kneading dough for fried patties,
Tending to crippled children,
To the salt of the earth
Beneath a warm sea breeze in the evening.

Mending broken souls all her worldly days,
providing smiles at every end,
Lending breasts for pillow to the brokenhearted.

Hummingbirds at her feet.

Holocaust Poetry

                                      First They Came for the Jews
                                                        Pastor Niemoller

First they came for the Jews
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for the Communists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a trade unionist.
When they came for me
and there was no one left
to speak out for me.


                                 A Story About Chicken Soup
                                                      Louis Simpson

In my grandmother‟s house there was always chicken soup
And talk of the old country--mud and boards.
The snow falling down the necks of lovers.

Now and then, out of her savings
She sent them a dowry. Imagine
The rice-powered faces!
And the smell of the bride, like chicken soup.

But the Germans killed them.
I know it‟s in bad taste to say it,
But it‟s true. The Germans killed them all.
In the ruins of Berchtesgaden
A child with yellow hair
Ran out of a doorway.

A German girl-child--
Cuckoo, all skin and bones--
Not even enough to make chicken soup.
She sat by the stream and smiled.

then as we splashed in the Sun
She laughed at us.
We had killed her mechanical brothers,
So we forgave her.

The sun is shining.
The shadows of the lovers have disappeared.
They are all eyes; they have some demand on me --
They want me to be more serious than I want to be.

They want me to stick in their mudhole
Where no one is elegant.
They want me to wear old clothes,
They want me to be poor, to sleep in a room with many others --

Not to walk in the painted sunshine
To a summer house,
But to live in the tragic world forever.

                                             The German Frontier at Basel
                                                     1942 --1992
                 Hilda Schiff

Just four miles to go and the frontier ahead,
A few miles ahead and the weather ideal,
A soft hanging haze over wooded landscape,
Trees on the turn yet the air warm and dry.
Peacefully at mid-day golden stretches
Of new-mown fields lie open and benign.
A cooling breeze sweeps the grassy slopes.
Early autumn: Tabernacles, Harvest Festival.

Disaster could not strike on a day
Such as this. His papers, after all, 
Were in perfect order, His directions
Clear, his plan foolproof. Some food
Stowed away, sufficient cash. No parcels
Or dependents. Just himself with a small,
A really modest, sized suitcase. Stop worrying,
He told himself. You‟re one of the lucky ones.

Only the telltale burn in the stomach.
The deliberate efforts to relax tense muscles.
Short of breath. Much thirst. Little energy.
At the border at last, he did, he didn‟t
Expect the difficulties. He was, he wasn‟t
Prepared for arrest. He did, he didn‟t
Anticipate the arrangements: the jam-packed trains,
The sweat, the stench, the gas, the horror.

Today as then, only reversing the directions,
The harvest is in, the fields as peaceful.
Just four miles to go and the frontier ahead:
An invisible line, an unguarded signpost.
Yet fear grips his gut, and anguish and anger:
The black-clad figures, the brutal voices,
The crowded cattle-trucks, the reeking odour,
The sweat, the stench, the gas, the horror.

                                                   The Butterfly
                                               Pavel Friedman
                                           Theresienstadt, 4 June, 1942

He was the last. Truly the last.
Such yellowness ws bitter and blinding
Like the sun‟s tear shattered on stone.
That was his true colour.

And how easily he climbed, and how high,
Certainly, climbing, he wanted
To kiss the last of my world.

I have been here for seven weeks,
Who loved me have found me.
Daisies call to me,
And the branches also of the white chestnut in the yard.
But I haven‟t seen a butterfly here.
That last one was the last one.
There are no butterflies, here, in the ghetto.


                                            From Holocaust
                                                      Charles Reznikoff

When the Second World War began
he was living in Lodz with his mother.
The family was hungry
and his mother became bloated from hunger--
as many were.
His mother and her family escaped from the ghetto in Lodz
and fled to the Warsaw ghetto;
but there it became much worse;
his mother had sold everything she had
and they had nothing to eat.
She then told him to get to the Lubin area
where other members of the family lived,
and he escaped to a small town.

One morning he heard cries and shrieking:
the Germans were taking the Jews to the market place.
They crowded them into freight cars
and he was among them. There was hardly room to stand
and many fainted.
But the journey took only two or three hours
and they were brought to a death camp.
When they got off the train
they were hurried to a small gate,
the SS men shouting, ‟Hurry! Hurry!‟
and there the men were taken from the women and children.
While this was going on
a band was playing.

The men stayed there all night
but the women and children were taken at once to the gas chambers.
Many of the Jews had not believed there would be any mass extermination --
a few murders, of course;
and even when they were jammed into the freight cars,
many were happy not to be going to a camp they knew to be a hard labour camp
and going eastward instead:
it had been rumoured that they would be taken to the Ukraine to work in the fields
now that Germany had taken over most of it.
But some remembered a Jew who had come to town and said:
„Do not believe what you are told.
The Jews are not being taken to the Ukraine;
they are sent to death camps --
and killed there.‟
But nobody believed him;
they thought he was just trying to start a panic.
And even in the camp they had now been sent to--
a few hundred feet from the gas chambers --
the men were told by the Germans that in a few weeks they would rejoin their families.
They saw the belongings of the women and children piled up;
but the Germans said:
„They are getting new clothes.
You are going to be gathered together and then sent to the Ukraine.‟
There were really three camps at that camp:
one for shoemakers, tailors, and other craftsmen;
another for those who worked at sorting the clothes of those
         who came in the transports and were gassed:
and the third camp where the gas chambers were.
The morning after the arrival of the Jewish men who had just come,
the Germans began to sort them:
choosing the young and able-bodied by saying „du‟-- the German familiar for „you‟.
In about half an hour most of the men who had come in that transport
had been taken to the gas chambers
and only about one hundred and fifty were left to work;
the young man who had fled from Warsaw to the Lublin area among them.

He was put to work taking and piling up the clothing of the people who had come --
and were coming-- in the transports
and kept seeing that many who had come disappeared.
After the young man had worked for awhile the first day,
he was dazed
and as he stood, dazed and benumbed--
he was only fifteen then-
a Jew came up to him and said, ‟My boy, if you are going to behave this way, you are not going to survive
After the Jew who had recognized the man from his home town
had been working in the woods for some time,
other Jews from his own town were among the dead
and among them--
his wife and his two children!
He lay down next to his wife and children and wanted the Germans to shoot him;
but one of the SS men said:
„You still have enough strength to work,‟
and pushed him away.
That evening he tried to hang himself
but his friends in the cellar would not let him
and said „As long as your eyes are open,
there is hope.‟
The next day the man who had tried to die was on a truck.

They were still in the woods
and he asked one of the SS men for a cigarette.
He himself did not smoke usually
but he lit the cigarette and, when he was back where his companions were sitting, said;
„Look here! He gives out cigarettes.
Why don‟t you all ask him for a cigarette?‟
They all got up--
they were in the back of the truck--
and went forwards
and he was left behind.

He had a little knife
and made a slit in the tarpaulin at the side
and jumped out;
came down on his knees
but got up and ran.
By the time the SS men began shooting
he was gone in the woods.
                                             Never Shall I Forget
                                                           Elie Wiesal
Never shall I forget that night,
the first night in the camp
which has turned my life into one long night,
seven times cursed and seven times sealed.

Never shall I forget that smoke.
Never shall I forget the little faces of the children
whose bodies I saw turned into wreaths of smoke
beneath a silent blue sky.

Never shall I forget those flames
which consumed my faith for ever.
Never shall I forget the nocturnal silence
which deprived me for all eternity of the desire of live.

Never shall I forget these moments
which murdered my God and my soul
and turned my dreams to dust.

Never shall I forget these things,
even if I am condemned to live
as long as God Himself.


                                                       William Heyen

From Belsen a crate of gold teeth,
from Dachau a mountain of shoes,
from Auschwitz a skin lampshade,
Who killed the Jews?

Not I, cries the typist,
Not I cries the engineer,
Not I cries Adolf Eichmann,
Not I cries Albert Speer.

My friend Fritz Nova lost his father --
a petty official had to choose. My friend Lou Abrahms lost his brother.
Who killed the Jews?

David Nova swallowed gas,
Hyman Abrahms was beaten and starved.
Some men signed their papers,
and some stood guard,

and some herded them in,
and some dropped the pellets,
and some spread ashes,
and some hosed the walls,

and some planted the wheat,
and some poured the steel,
and some cleared the rails, and some raised the cattle.

Some smelled the smoke, some just heard the news.
Were they Germans? Were they Nazis?
Were they human? Who killed the Jews?

The stars will remember the gold, the sun will remember the shoes,
the moon will remember the skin,
But who killed the Jews?


                                            My Only Brother
                                                       Elly Gross

I was a lonely single child                     I planned to go together with
and jealous of my friends                       him to the park when he grew up
Of those who had a brother                      and on the hills to pick
or a sister with whom to play                   wild strawberries, blackberries
I felt small and very alone.                    and wild flowers for our mother.

When I was ten years old                        Our father also had plans, for
my little brother was born.                     his only son‟s bar mitzvah,
He was handsome, with black hair,               which school the boy would attend
red cheeks and black eyes.                      and maybe he would be a doctor,
I was happy to have a brother.                  perhaps a lawyer or a mechanic.

I loved the little boy                          In the spring, when my brother was born,
and he liked to be with me,                     the Nazis invaded Czechoslovakia.
When he took his first steps,                   The winds of the Second World War began
balanced with his hands and                     to blow over our heads, but no one
with a smile, he ran into my arms.              could have imagined what followed next.

I felt so joyous that I cried.                  Fate changed our family‟s life
The boy was close to my heart.                  and our dreams did not come true.
It gave me great satisfaction                   In the stormy winds of Europe our
when our mother trusted                         hopes were demolished, and again,
my little brother in my care.                   I remained a single lonely child.


                                           Shower in Birkenau
                                                        Elly Gross

A new rain of deportees
arrived and lined up in
front of an officer. With a
wave of his gloves he
decided who should live
and who should die.

My group was sent to the right.

We were not yet
condemned to die.
But most from our transport were directed to
the left. We were locked up
for six days without water
and food, and we did not
even have air.

Soldiers with rifles ready to
shoot ordered us to line up,
five in a row, and they held
barking dogs on leashes.
Men in striped uniforms
helped the German soldiers
to group us.

We walked on a road
between barbed wires.
Our group arrived at a big building.
Our escorts screamed, “Go inside! Fast!”
We entered in a large hall with benches
around the wall and numbered hooks.

On the wall were signs written
in German and in Hungarian:
“Tie your shoes together”
“Remember your hook number,
to find your clothes quickly.

How organized the Germans were. What a lie it was. What we did not know.
None of us got our clothes back.
Our folded clothes were sent to
German citizens, as bonuses,

Creaming soldiers watched us
undress; our heads were shaved.
In the shower the water in one second
was boiling hot and the next second
it was changed to freezing cold.

We were thirsty, we were hungry.
We stuck out our tongues
to swallow a few drops of water.
it did not matter if it was hot or cold.
The Nazi Germans laughed. It was fun for them.
                                           A Former Paratrooper
                                                        Elly Gross
On November 22, 1999, I waited
in a store to b served.
Suddenly a man began to talk,
and he proudly said,
“In Germany, at the age of eighteen,
I volunteered to serve my country.”

He continued:

“ I was a paratrooper in the army,
and fought through to the end.”
To me, as a Holocaust survivor,
his statement was too much.
It was more than I could swallow.

Gasping for air, I finally said;
“ You fought against our beautiful
country, the United States.
Why did you come here?
Germany is you country.”
And I continued;

“You served the murderers,
of European nations;
why are you in America?”
The former paratrooper‟s eyes were flashing.
He got angry, but kept quiet.

I could hardly compose myself
and I thought : How a man
who helped to burn towns,
 who served the murderers
of innocent people-- how can
he live and prosper among us?

As a paratrooper he served,
among the first group
of those soldiers who invaded
other nations‟ lands.
Maybe the German Government,
is rewarding him with a pension.

This man killed American soldiers.
Why does a former murderer live here?
How does he get a visa to enter into
the United States of America?
Who was his accomplice?
Yet, who is he, American or Nazi?

       Asian -
Asian American Poetry

                                                  In Response to
                                           Executive Order 9066:

All Americans of Japanese Descent
Must Report to Relocation Centers
                                                                   Dwight Okita
Dear Sirs:
Of course I‟ll come. I‟ve packed my galoshes
and three packets of tomato seeds. Denise calls them
love apples. My father says where we‟re going
they won‟t grow.

I am a fourteen-year-old girl with bad spelling
and a very messy room. If it helps any, I will tell you
I have always felt funny using chopsticks
and my favorite food is hot dogs.
My best friend is a white girl named Denise -
we look at boys together. She sat in front of me
all through grade school because of our names:
O'Connor, Ozawa. I know the back of Denise‟s head very well.

I tell her she‟s going bald. She tells me I copy on tests.
We‟re best friends.

I saw Denise today in Geography class.
She was sitting on the other side of the room.
“you‟re trying to start a war,” she said, ”Giving secrets
away to the Enemy, Why can‟t you keep your big
mouth shut?”

I didn‟t know what to say.
I gave her a packet of tomato seeds
and asked her to plant them for me, told her
when the first tomato ripened
she‟d miss me.


                                                  Illegal Alien
                                                           Panna Naik
It has been years since
I deported Memory,
once my constant companion,
to where he belongs.

in the dead of the night,
there is a whisper in the air.
He is trying to sneak back.
Feeling suffocated,
I open the window
shut down for years.

Hearing someone knocking,
I open the door
to find
just the wind hissing
through the crack.
Banished memory,
I reassure myself,
wouldn‟t come this openly.

But did he really try to slip in clandestinely?
I feel enraged at the thought.
Doesn‟t he know
that in America
an illegal alien
is arrested,
tried in court;
and when found guilty,
once more deported?

When I enter the room
I find him
spread over the bed sheet folds
disguised as silver moonlight
that shines through the open window.

Police tell me:
“opening that window
was your first mistake.”

                                           Still Kicking in America
                                                            G.S. Sharat Chandra
Nothing changes in America
for Asians who write in English.
Now that I‟m older,
the old ones ask
the same questions
the young ones asked
when I was younger.
Where did you learn such good English?
A Polish wife of a traveling professor
dangles her earrings vehemently,
lifts the hem of her dainty skirt
to show me thighs that withstood
long lines, dictators,
before she kicked them for good.

Kicking a country
with such strong legs
is some kind of victory.
I look at my own
vegetarian calves,
so starved and tubular
even Gandhi would be ashamed.
But these are calves
that never kicked anyone
but their owner
in dreams or desperation,
hoping for words

to come out right in English.


                                         When I Was Growing Up
                                                       Nellie Wong

I know now that once I longed to be white.
How? you ask.
Let me tell you the ways.
When I was growing up, people told me
I was dark and I believed my own darkness
in the mirror, in my soul, my own narrow vision.

        when I was growing up, my sisters
        with fair skin got praised
        for their beauty and I fell
        further, crushed between high walls.

when I was growing up, I read magazines
and saw movies, blonde movie stars, white skin,
sensuous lips, and to be elevated, to b become
a woman, a desirable woman, I began to wear
imaginary pale skin.

        when I was growing up, I was proud
        of my English, my grammar, my spelling,
        fitting into the group of smart children,
        smart Chinese children, fitting in,
        belonging, getting in line.

when I was growing up and went to high school,
I discovered the rich white girls, a few yellow girls,
their imported cotton dresses, their cashmere sweaters,
their curly hair and I thought that I too should have
what these lucky girls had.

        when I was growing up, I hungered
        for American food, American styles
        coded: white and even to me, a child
        born of Chinese parents, being Chinese
        was feeling foreign, was limiting,
        was unAmerican.

when I was growing up and a white man wanted
to take me out, I thought I was special,
an exotic gardenia, anxious to fit
the stereotype of an oriental chick.

        when I was growing up, I felt ashamed
        of some yellow men, their small bones,
        their frail bodies, their spitting
        on the streets, their coughing,
        their lying in sunless rooms
        shooting themselves in the arms.

when I was growing up, people would ask

if I was Filipino, Polynesian, Portuguese.
They named all colors except white, the shell
of my soul but not my rough dark skin.

                when I was growing up, I felt
                dirty. I thought that it
                made white people clean
                and no matter how much I bathed,
                I could not change, I could not shed
                my skin in the gray water.

        when I was growing up, I swore
        I would run away to purple mountains,
        houses by the sea with nothing over
        my head, with space to breathe,
        uncongested with yellow people in an area
        called Chinatown, in an area later
        learned was a ghetto, one of many hearts
        of Asian America.

I know now that once I longed to be white.
How many more ways? you ask.
Haven‟t I told you enough?


                                                Can’t Tell
                                                        Nellie Wong

When World War II was declared
on the morning radio,
we glued our ears, widened our eyes.
Our bodies shivered.

A voice said
Japan was the enemy,
Pearl Harbor a shambles
and in our grocery store
in Berkeley, we were suspended
next to the meat market
where voices hummed,
valises , pots and pans packed,
no more hot dogs, baloney,
pork kidneys.

We children huddled on wooden planks and my parents whispered:
We are Chinese, we are Chinese.
Safety pins anchored,
our loins ached.

Shortly our Japanese neighbors vanished
and my parents continued to whisper:
We are Chinese, we are Chinese.

We wore black arms bands,
put up a sign
in bold letters.


                                               Father from Asia
                                                           Shirley Geok-lin Lim

Father, you turn your hands toward me.
Large hollow owls, they are empty
stigmata of poverty. Light pours
through them, and I back away,
for you are dangerous, father
of poverty, father of ten children,
father of nothing, from whose life
I have learned nothing for myself.
You are the father of childhood,
father from Asia, father of sacrifice.
I renounce you, keep you in my sleep,
keep you two oceans away, ghost
who eats his own children,
Asia who loved his children,
who didn‟t know abandonment,
father who lived at the center of the world,
whose life I dare not remember,
for memory is a wheel that crushes,
and Asia is dust, is dust.

                                        Katori Maru, October 1920
                                                        James Masao Mitsui

Two weeks across a strange sea,
big waves, the ship
spilling its toilets.
People sick of the ocean
run from bulkhead to bulkhead, trying to keep their balance
on the slick iron deck.

My mother asks herself in Japanese
why her oldest sister had to die,
why now she must marry the stranger
who speaks Japanese & English
and swears with the crew.
She thinks back to Nagano-ken,
pictures her mother
cracking a brown egg
over a bowl of rice
while her father washes raw soil
from his thick hands.
Today she could trade her future
for the bottom of the ocean.

Waves, floating waves,
rise above the railing,
drift out of sight, Vancouver Island
is a memory of home, hills
soft & green as crushed velvet.

In Tacoma, Minoru buys

Western clothes: a pink taffeta dress
full of pleats, wide-brimmed hat,
white gloves, a leather handbag
and awkward high heels.
No more flowered silk,
obi sash and get as.
He brings out a used coat from the closet,
thick maroon wool, brown fur collar.
It is too full in the shoulders,
the size & color
fit her sister.
But for now
she accepts it.
The rain feels heavy
on the gray sidewalks of America.

                                     The Brides Come to Yuba City
                                                      Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

The sky is hot and yellow, filled
with blue screaming birds. The train
heaved us from its belly
and vanished in shrill smoke.
Now only the tacks
gleam dull in the heavy air,
a ladder to eternity, each receding rung
cleaved from our husbands‟ ribs.
Mica-flecked, the platform dazzles, burns up through thin
chappal soles, lurches
like the ship‟s dark hold,
blurred month of nights, smell of vomit,
a porthole like the bleached iris
of a giant unseeing eyes.

Red-veiled, we lean into each other,
press damp palms, try
broken smiles. The man
who met us at the ship whistles
a restless Angrezi tune
and scans the fields. Behind us,
the black wedding trunks, sharp-edged,
shiny, stenciled with strange men-names
our bodies do not fit into;
Mrs. Baldev Johl, Mrs. Kanwal Bains.
Inside, folded like wings,
bright salwar kameezes scented
with sandalwood. Flor the men,
kurtas and thin white gauze
to wrap their uncut hair.
Laddus from Jullundhar, sugar-crusted,
six kinds of lentils, a small bag
of bajra flour. Labeled in our mothers‟
hesitant hands, pickled mango and lime,
packets of seeds -- methi, karela, saag --
to burst from this new soil
like green stars.

He gives a shout, waves

at the men, their slow uneven approach. We crease our eyes
through the veils‟ red film,
cannot breathe. Thirty years
since we saw them. Or never,
like Harvinder, married last year
at Hoshiarpur to her husband‟s photo,
which she clutches tight to her
to stop the shaking. He is fifty-two,
she sixteen. Tonight -- like us all --
she will open her legs to him.

The platform is endless-wide.
the men walk and walk
without advancing. Their lined,
wavering mouths, their
eyes like drowning lights.
We cannot recognize a single face.

Note: Yuba City in Northern California was settled largely by Indian railroad workers around 1900s. Due
to immigration restrictions, many of them were unable to bring their families over -- or, in the case of
single men, go back to get married -- until the 1940s.

                                                The Gift
                                                        Li- Young Lee

To pull the metal splinter from my palm
my father recited a story in a low voice.
I watched his lovely face and not the blade.
Before the story ended, he‟d removed
the iron sliver I thought I‟d die from.

I can‟t remember the tale,
but hear his voice still, a well
of dark water, a prayer,
And I recall his hands,
two measured of tenderness
he laid against my face,
the flames of discipline
he raised above my head.

Had you entered that afternoon
you would have thought you saw a man
planting something in a boy‟s palm,
a silver tear, a tiny flame.
Had you followed that boy
you would have arrived here,
where I bend over my wife‟s right hand.

Look how I shave her thumbnail down
so carefully she feels no pain.
watch as Lift the splinter out.
I was seven when my father
took my hand like this,
and I did not hold that shard
between my fingers and think,
Metal that will bury me,
christen it Little Assassin,
Ore Going Deep for My Heart,
And I did not lift up my wound and cry,
Death visited here!
I did what a child does
when he‟s given something to keep.
I kissed my father.

                                        I Ask My Mother to Sing
                                                       Li-Young Lee
She begins, and my grandmother joins her.
Mother and daughter sing like young girls.
If my father were alive, he would play
his accordion and sway like a boat.

I‟ve never been in Peking, or the Summer Palace,
nor stood on the the great Stone Boat to watch
the rain begin on Kuen Ming Lake, the picnickers
running away in the the grass.

But I love to hear it sung;
how the waterlilies fill with rain until
they overturn, spilling water into water,
then rock back, and fill with more.

Both women have begun to cry.
But neither stops her song.


                                                          Claire Kageyama

    She is the lady
    who microwaves tea.
    she serves nishi me
    on paper plates,
    picks caterpillars
    off cherry tomatoes
    with wooden chopsticks,
    and places a cup
    of coffee
    in front of her husband‟s

    She is the bind that holds
    the Kishis and Kageyamas togther.
    Her name is Tamai Kumagai.
    Friends call her Obasan.
    She is my Obaachan, my grandmother.
    I call her Mama.

    On Fridays,
    I followed her
    to Save & Save
    where we picked up
    packages of rice tea.

    At night

through my window
under a cucumber moon,
She sang me songs
about Cowpatch and Mortar,
how they saved the crab‟s children,
and about Momotaro,
“Momotaro, Momotaro,
is hiding and waiting,” she said,
“in the center of your peach.”

I repeated her stories to the sky,
where I learned new lessons.

I am the child
she wrapped in a kimono.
My feet adorned in bamboo shoes.
My hair braided in plastic chopsticks.
I wore her wedding dress
on Halloween.
I was third born,
the last child to taste her rice candy.

Her marriage was arranged
by the Tsurus and Kumagais.
She was the daughter
willing to leave Japan.

In 1924, she sailed on the U.S.S. Jackson,
the last ship which brought Asians
to Seattle after Coolidge passed
the Immigration Act.

Her brother-in-law married a woman
by signing a photograph.
He divorced her the day she arrived;
threw her picture in the trash
and demanded a new wife.

She and her husband moved
to Medicine Bow, Wyoming.
He worked in the coal mines,
and later became head foreman
for the Union Pacific Railroad.

She combed lice
out of her children‟s hair,
shampooed them with kerosene,
on a gas stove.

She collected foil from cigarette wrappers,
pressed it together
into mercury balls,
and mailed them to Japan.
Her relatives melted
those bundles into weapons.

The night World War II broke out,
her husband lost his job.
    They lit a bonfire
    of wood and garbage,
    dropped in letters and flags.

    During the Fifties,
    she moved to L.A.
    and spent her days
    mixing chocolate and butter
    in a kitchen of cockroaches.

    Once in a car,
    between Olympic and Sawtelle,
    she tried to jump out
    of the passenger window.
    Her husband held her back,
    as she cried, “ I want to die.”

    In September
    I became a woman.
    She started to sew me
    a black dress
    with a peplum skirt,
    saying, “ I want you
    to wear this to my funeral.”
    She handed me a silk box
    with a pearl necklace
    she had been saving
    for nineteen years.

    Pouring me
    a cup of rice tea
    she told me
    Kumagai means
    “Bad bear”;
    Kageyama means “ Behind
    in the shade of a mountain.”

    She is the lady
    who microwaves tea.
    She is my Obaachan.


                                             Notes for a Poem
                                         on Being Asian American

                                                             Dwight Okita

As a child, I was a fussy eater
and I would separate the yolk from the egg white
as I now try to sort out what is Asian
in me from what is American—
the east from the west, the dreamer from the dream.
but countries are not
like eggs—except in the fragileness
of their shells—and eggs resemble countries
only in that when you crack open one and look inside,
you know even less than when you started.
And so I crack open the egg,
and this is what I see:
two moments from my past that strike me
as being uniquely Asian American.

In the first, I‟m walking down Michigan Ave
one day—a man comes up to me out of the blue and says:
“I just wanted to tell you….I was on the plane that
bombed Hiroshima. And I just wanted you to know that what we did was for the good of everyone.” And it
seems as if he‟s asking for my forgiveness. it‟s 1983,
there‟s a sale on Marimekko sheets at the Crate &
Barrel, it‟s a beautiful summer day and I‟m talking to
a amn I‟ve never seen before and will probably never
see again. His statement has no connection to me—
and has every connection in the world. But it‟s not
for me to forgive him. He must forgive himself.
“It must have been a very difficult decision to do what
you did,” I say and I mention the sale on Marimekko
 sheets across the street, comforters, and how the
 pillowcases have the pattern of wheat printed on them,
and how some nights if you hold them before an open
window to the breezes, they might seem like flags—
celebrating, or simply cooling themselves in the summer
breeze as best the can.

In the second moment—I‟m in a taxi and the Iranian
cabdriver looking into the rearview mirror notices my
Asian eyes, those almond shapes, reflected in the glass
and says, “ Can you really tell the difference between
a Chinese and a Japanese?”


                                             Foreign Ways
                                                     Diana Chang

If I were in China this minute
and running after a friend
spied across from the hotel
I was staying at

waving to him, say
\calling his name in Mandarin

Still they‟d know me—
the body giving the person away
betrays a mind
of its own—

my voice from Duluth
my lope with its prairie air.

Native American

                                                       Simon J. Ortiz
don‟t talk me no words.
Don‟t frighten me
for I am in the blinding city.
The lights,
the cars, the deadened glares
         tear my heart
         and close my mind.

Who questions my pain,
the tight knot of anger
in my breast?

I swallow hard and often
and taste my spit
and it does not taste good.
Who questions my mind?

I came here because I was tired;
the BIA taught me to cleanse myself,
daily to keep a careful account of my time.
Efficiency was learned in catechism;
the nuns spelled me God in white.
And I came here to feed myself --
corn, potatoes, chili, and mutton
did not nourish me they said.

So I agreed to move.
I see me walking in sleep
down streets, down streets gray with cement
and glaring glass and oily wind,
armed with a pint of wine,
I cheated my children to buy.
I am ashamed.
I am tired.
I am hungry.
I speak words.
I am lonely for hills.
I am lonely for myself.


                                              Close Encounters
                                                      by Carter Revard

We of the Osage Nation have come,
as the naming Ceremony says,
down from the stars.
We sent ahead
our messengers to learn
how to make our bodies,
to make ourselves a nation,
find power to live, to go on,
to move as the sun rises and never fails
to cross the sky into the west
and go down in beauty into the night,
joining the stars once more
to move serenely across the skies
and rise again at dawn, letting
the two great shafts of light beside the sun
become white eagle plumes in the hair
of children as we give their names.

When we came down, our messengers
encountered beings
who let us take their bodies
with which we live into the peaceful days;
we met the Thunder, and the Mountain Lion,
the Red Bird, and the Cedar Tree,
Black Bear, and Golden Eagle.
As eagles , we came down,
and on the red oak tops
we rested, Shaking loose with our weight
great showers of acorns, seeds
for new oaks, and our daily bread.

The leaves were light and dancing and
we saw, through the trees,
the sun caught
among leaves moving
around its light; it was
the leaves, we saw,
these light beings, who raised
as they danced the heavy
oak-trunks out of the earth,
who gathered the wind and sunlight,
the dew and the morning into timbered
lodges for the sun and stars.

And so of course, we sang:
Nothing‟s lighter than the leaves, we sang,
ghost--dancing on the oak tree as the spirit moves,
and nothing heavier than the great
sun-wombing red oaks which their dancing
in time has raised up from the earth where we
came down as eagles.
It will not end, we sang
in time our leaves of paper will
be dancing, lightly, making a nation of
the sun and other stars.


Coming down to Las Vegas as
a passenger on Frontier Airlines is
a myth of another color. at the Stardust Inn deep
within that city of dice and vice and Warhead Testing,
I was to give a paper
to the Rocky Mountain Modern Language Association
on Trickster Tales.
I gave it, and
I got out solvent, astonished,
and all but stellified
on wings of flame, like Elijah
or Geoffrey Chaucer in The House of Fame, up
up into the stars above Lake Mead, and Iooked down
into its twinkling heaven
and thought back to the many-splendored
neon and krypton lights of Las Vegas
that throbbed with the great lake‟s power;
I remembered the dead rapids and waterfalls
drowned in Glen Canyon and Lake Mead,
thought of those bodies of
water, swollen so huge that earth itself
quivers with constant small tremors from them--
and there looking up at me with
his Las Vegas eyeball was the trickster Monster,
flashing with lightning from his
serpents of copper lifted up on crossbars--
but then I remembered how
among the streaked and painted bluffs that surround
Las Vegas I saw the October Dawn come streaked
and painted down the eastern skies to brighten
the walk from my Travelodge over the street
to a vacant lot under
its desert willows
where lived a wren, some vivid orange flowers
papery on thornleaved stems hugging the sand,
and one empty billfold
with its credit cards spread around a sole
identity card that pictured
a security guard from San Diego,
the naval base there.
I turned the billfold in
to the motel clerk, the wren
pleaded innocence and flew away like me,
and when I got the orange flower
back to St. Louis and put it in
a glass of water, it turned the water
to pungent amber and wilted as if
I‟d killed it with kindness.
--That Trickster, he always carries
lost identity cards and desert flowers
and finds himself
surrounded by dawn.

And so I sang
how the white sails of columbus, of
cortez and the Pilgrims brought
their krypton iris here and made
the desert bloom,
how they raised
the great light-sculptured houses
of cards and dice on sand;
I sang how
the rainbow ghosts of waterfalls
are pulsed into the sockets of
Las Vegas light flashing in crimson green
gold and violet it humongous word,
up to the dancing stars.


                                      Autobiography, Chapter XLII:
                                        Three Days in Louisville

                                      Everything is the cause of itself
                                          Ralph Waldo Emerson
                                                                          Jim Barnes


Coming down into an air brown as whiskey, the plane
       drops onto the strip like a practiced crow ready
       for another‟s kill, talons wild for dead game.

This fierce town will hold you three days running:
         the nervous prance that cracks your bones tells
         you plain there‟s nothing sure about sure things.

You count your chances for survival slim; this is no
       town for poets: the weather is never right, the
       air a constant sour mash and scream.

The city sprawls like a gutted horse, and the taxi
        you take can‟t even offer tours, the hotel so
        cold it smells of juniper and gin.

In East St. Louis this morning a stable burned;
        the horses screaming in their stalls, a total
        loss; and now you burn, wild mares beating in
        your brain, but you‟re no hero, barely sane.

You will read your poems to whoever is there or to
         the night; you will read something with hoofs
         in it, something with hands, something in the
         saddle to ride mankind.


You eat Italian with your friends, who have driven a
        thousand miles, weathered well through the gangstered
        middle of this land, are green for poetry and bourbon
        on the rocks.

The horses in your head are pulling at the reins, anxious for
       the race they cannot run; a heavy smell of char stings
       your eyes, the sight of steak singed and bloody turns
       you cold.

There is no muse to pull a poem out of this pot; your fat
        friend across your plate plays Petrarchian with his
        words, the bad sonnet falling form his mouth like

When you were young, the horses in the meadows danced
      and the grooming wind greened their eyes and the sun
      filled their hoofs with fire.

Now the horses die, die, and the violent sky cracks with
        the thunder of stampede, gods gone crazy in the
        whisky dark.

Hands above your head to keep your vision clear, you rush
       the car, stagger in mid-air: half buried in the rainy
       pavement at your feet is a spent cartridge of a Smith
       and Wesson .45.


The muraled walls are big with horses‟ heads; paddocks
       and colonels are cornering at every turn you make.

You enter the Poetry Room at half-lope, late, your bones
       popping like pistols at the track. Three days in
       Louisville and your brain ferments a race you swore
       you‟d never see: you dream pasterns broken, nostrils
       flared, a bullet between the eyes.

You loose your poems and the words run out, but you can‟t
       loose the horses in your head: in Tennessee, or
       somewhere down from here, they wrap the pasterns
       tight in wire and the Walking Horse learns his name
       dancing in three-quarter time.

You‟ve come to dread the afterwards, the taking stock that
        follows poems that‟s supposed to help you tighten up
        the pace. You know it‟s hard to drop a line or life.
        Always too much at stake.

The bourbon you finally allow yourself in bed is pure flame.
       You take it like you take the lie of sunny weather on
       T.V. Agape, On the nightstand a phonebook and a
       Gideon lie neck to neck.


                                          To a Child Running
                                        with Outstretched Arms
                                         in Canyon de Chelly
                                                   N. Scott Momaday

You are small and intense
In your excitement, whole,
Embodied in delight.
The backdrop is immense;

The sand banks break and roll
Through cleavages of light
And shadow. You embrace
the spirit of this place.


                                              The Burning

                                                        N. Scott Momaday

In the numb, numberless days
There were disasters in the distance,
Strange upheavals. No one understood them.
At night the sky was scored with light,
For the far planes of the planet buckled and burned.
In the dawns were intervals of darkness
On the scorched sky, clusters of clouds and eclipse.
And cinders descending.
nearer in the noons
The air lay low and ominous and inert.
And eventually at evening, or morning, or midday,
At the sheer wall of the wood,
Were shapes in the shadows approaching,
Always, and always alien and alike.
And in the foreground the field were fixed in fire,
And the flames flowered in our flesh.

                                           West Coast Indian
                                                George Clutesi

In the beginning he merely marked
Then he incised on rock.
Later he carved on wood to paint and color with rock and roe.
He believed in a God; he aspired to a generous heart.
Asked for strength of arm, a true aim for his bow,
To provide and share with his fellow man.

He did his work at summertime.
He waxed strong; his possessions increased with his toil.
With the thunderdrum he sang at wintertime,
Great feasts he gave because his heart was full,
He sang of deeds and glories won by his house and his clan.
He was at peace with his God; his life indeed was full.

He chose the timber wolf for his symbol,
The killer whale was lord of the salt-chuck,
The thunderbird meant power and might
Like the wind, rain and the thunder.
The lightning snake was its ally.
Mah-uk, leviathan of the sea, represented abundance.

Inspired thus, on great cedar planks he drew
The symbols of his tribe.
Earth and rock, the root and bark, the salmon roe,
Lent their colors, bold and true;
Indeed great men from far off lands marveled to see
Art forms, shown nowhere else but here.

Allied to the Nootkas, the Tse-shahts
Belonged to the clan of the wolf.
With all the powers at hand,
A great potlatch he would now command.
To bid you: “ Come, enter and share with me.”
A rich cultural inheritance is his indeed.


                                   I Walk in the History of My People

There are women locked in my joints
         for refusing to speak to the police
My red blood full of those
         arrested          in flight shot
My tendons stretched brittle with anger
         do not look like white roots of peace
In my marrow are hungry faces
         who live on land the whites don‟t want
In my marrow women who walk 5 miles every day for water
In my marrow the swollen hands of my people who are not allowed to hunt
         to move
         to be
In the scars of my knees you can see
         children torn from their families
         bludgeoned into government schools
You can see through the pins in my bones‟
         that we are prisoners of a long war
My knee is so badly wounded no one will look at it
The pus of the past oozes from every pore
This infection has gone on for at least 300 years
         Our sacred beliefs have been made into pencils
         names of cities gas stations
My knee is wounded so badly that I limp constantly
         Anger is my crutch          I hold myself upright with it
                           My knee is wounded
                                             How I Am Still Walking


                                       I Have Not Signed a Treaty
                                   with the United States Government
                                       especially for Celeste George

nor has my father nor his father
nor any grandmothers
We don‟t recognize these names on old sorry paper
Therefore we declare the United States a crazy person
          nightmare       lousy food      ugly clothes              bad meat
          nobody that we know
No one wants to go there          This US is theory       illusion
terrible ceremony         The United States can‟t dance can‟t cook
          has no children no elders       no relatives
They build funny houses no one lives in but papers
          Everything the United States does to everybody is bad
No this US is not a good idea We declare you terminated
          You‟ve had your fun now go home we‟re tired               We signed
no treaty         WHAT are you still doing here Go somewhere else and
          build a McDonald‟s              We‟re going to tear all this ugly mess
down now          We revoke your immigration papers

        your assimilation soap suds        your stories are no good
your colors hurt our feet our eyes are sore
        our bellies are tied in sour knots         Go Away Now
        We don‟t know you from anybody
You must be some ghost in the wrong place          wrong time
        Pack up your toys         garbage          lies
We      who are alive now
        have signed no treaties
Burn down your stuck houses you‟re sitting
        in a nowhere gray glow Your spell is dead
Go so far away we won‟t remember you ever came here
        Take these words back with you


                                            They Tell Me I Am Lost
for Lance Henson

                                                           Maurice Kenny
my feet are elms, roots in the earth
my heart is the hawk
my thought the arrow that rides
         the wind across the valley
my spirit eats with eagles on the mountain crag
         and clashes with the thunder
my grass is the breath of my flesh
         and the deer is the bone of my child
my toes dance on the drum
         in the light of the eyes of the old turtle

my chant is the wind
my chant is the muskrat
my chant is the seed
my chant is the tadpole
my chant is the grandfather
       and his many grandchildren
       sired in the frost of March
       and the summer noon of brown August
my chant is the field that turns with the sun
       and feeds the mice
       and the bear red berries and honey
my chant is the river
       that quenches the thirst of the sun
my chant is the woman who bore me
       and my blood and my flesh of tomorrow
my chant is the herb that heals
       and the moon that moves the tide
       and the wind that cleans the earth
         of old bones singing in the morning dust
my chant is the rabbit, skunk, heron
my chant is the red willow, the clay
       and the great pine that bulges the woods
       and the axe that fells the birch
       and the hand that breaks the corn from the stalk
       and waters the squash and catches stars
my chant is a blessing to the trout, beaver
       and a blessing to the young pheasant
       that warms my winter
my chant is the wolf in the dark
my chant is the crow flying against the sun
my chant is the sun
       sleeping on the back of the grass
       in marriage
my chant is the sun
       while there is sun I cannot be lost
my chant is the quaking of the earth
       angry and bold

although I hide in the thick forest
        or the deep pool of the slow river
        though I hide in a shack, a prison
        though I hide in a word, a law
        though I hide in a glass of beer
          or high on steel girders over the city
          or in the slums of that city
        though I hide in a mallard feather
          or the petals of the milkwort
          or a story told by my father

though there are eyes that do not see me
        and ears that do not hear my drum
        or hands that do not feel my wind
        and tongues which do not taste my blood
I am the shadow on the field
        The rain on the rock
        the snow on the limb
        the footprint on the water
        the vetch on the grave
I am the sweat on the boy
        the smile on the woman
        the paint on the man
I am the singer of songs
        and the hunter of fox
I am the glare on the sun
        the frost on the fruit
        the notch on the cedar
I am the foot on the golden snake
I am the foot on the silver snake
I am the tongue of the wind
        and the nourishment of grubs
I am the claw and the hoof and the shell
I am the stalk and the bloom and the pollen
I am the boulder on the rim of the hill
I am the sun and the moon
        the light and the dark
I am the shadow on the field

I am the string, the bow and the arrow


                                                   First Rule
                                                            Maurice Kenny

stones must form a circle first not a wall
open so that it may expand
to take in new grass and hills
tall pines and a river
expand as sun on weeds, an elm, robins;
the prime importance is to circle stones
where footsteps are erased by winds
assured old men and wolves sleep
where children play games
catch snow flakes if they wish;
words cannot be spoken first

as summer turns spring
caterpillars into butterflies
new stones will be found for the circle;
it will ripple out a pool
grown from the touch
of a water-spider‟s wing;
words cannot be spoken first

that is the way to start
with stones forming a wide circle
marsh marigolds in bloom
hawks hunting mice
boys climbing hills
to sit under the sun to dream
of eagle wings and antelope;
words cannot be spoken first


                                           Crazy Horse Monument
                                                         Peter Blue Cloud

Hailstones falling like sharp blue sky chips
howling winds the brown grass bends, while
buffalo paw and stamp and blow billowing steam,
and prairie wolves chorus the moon in morning.

The spotted snake of a village on the move
a silent file of horses rounding hills,‟
in a robe of grey, t he sky chief clutches thunder
and winter seeks to find the strongest men.

        Crazy Horse rides the circle of his people‟s sleep,
           from Little Big Horn to Wounded Knee,
        Black Hills, their shadows are his only robe
           dark breast feathers of a future storm.

Those of broken bodies piled in death,
of frozen blood upon the white of snow,
yours is now the sky chant of spirit making,
pacing the rhythm of Crazy Horse‟s monument.

and he would cry in anger of a single death,
and dare the guns of mounted soldiers blue,
for his was the blood and the pulse of rivers,
and mountains and plains taken in sacred trust.

        Crazy Horse rides the circle of his people‟s sleep,
           from Little Big Horn to Wounded Knee,
        Black Hills, their shadows are his only robe
           dark breast feathers of a future storm.

And what would he think of the cold steel chisel,
and of dynamite blasting a mountain‟s face,
what value the crumbled glories of Greece and Rome,
to a people made cold and hungry?

To capture in stone the essence of a man‟s spirit,
to portray the love and respect of children and elders,
fashion instead the point of a hunting arrow sharp,
and leave to the elements the wearing-down of time.

        Crazy Horse rides the circle of his people‟s sleep,
           from Little Big Horn to Wounded Knee,
        Black Hills, their shadows are his only robe
           dark breast feathers of a future storm.


                                              Columbus Day
                                                       Jimmie Durham
In school I was taught the names
Columbus, Cortez, and Pizzaro and
A dozen other filthy murderers.
A bloodline all the way to General Miles,
Daniel Boone and General Eisenhower.

No one mentioned the names
Of even a few of the victims.
But don‟t you remember Chaske, whose spine
Was crushed so quickly by Mr. Pizzaro‟s boot?
What words did he cry into the dust?

What was the familiar name
Of that young girl who danced so gracefully
That everyone in the village sang with her --
before Cortez‟ sword hacked off her arms
As she protested the burning of her sweetheart?

That young man‟s name was Many Deeds,
And he had been a leader of a band of fighters
Called the Redstick Hummingbirds, who slowed
the march of Cortez‟ army with only a few
Spears and stones which now lay still
In the mountains and remember.

Greenrock Woman was the name
Of that old lady who walked right up
And spat in Columbus‟ face. We
Must remember that, and remember
Laughing Otter the Taino, who tried to stop
Columbus and who was taken away as a slave.
We never saw him again.

In school I learned heroic discoveries
made by liars and crooks. The courage
Of millions of sweet and true people
Was not commemorated.

Let us then declare a holiday
For ourselves, and make a parade that begins
With Columbus‟ victims and continues
Even to our grandchildren who will be named
In their honor.
Because isn‟t it true that even the summer
Grass here in this land whispers those names,
And every creek has accepted the responsibility
Of singing those names? And nothing can stop
The wind from howling those names around
The corners of the school.
Why else would the birds sing
so much sweeter here than in other lands?

       Immigrant Poetry

                                               The Old Italians Dying
                                                                  Lawrence Ferlinghetti

For years the old Italians have been dying
all over America
For years the old Italians in faded felt hats
have been sunning themselves and dying
You have seen them on the benches
in the park in Washington Square
the old Italians in their black high button shoes
the old men in their old felt fedoras
                                with stained hatbands
have been dying and dying
                                    day by day
You have seen them
every day in Washington Square San Francisco
the slow bell
tolls in the morning
in the Church of Peter & Paul
in the marzipan church on the plaza
toward ten in the morning the slow bell tolls
in the towers of Peter & Paul
and the old men who are still alive
sit sunning themselves in a row
on the wood benches in the park
and watch the processions in and out
funerals in the morning
weddings in the afternoon
slow bell in the morning Fast bell at noon
In one door out the other
the old men sit there in their hats
and watch the coming & going
You have seen them
the ones who feed the pigeons
                  cutting the stale bread
                      with their thumbs & penknives
the ones with the old pocketwatches
the old one with gnarled hands
                                  and wild eyebrows
the ones with the baggy pants
                            with both belt & suspenders
the grappa drinkers with teeth like corn
the Piemontesi the Genovesi the Siciliani‟
                            smelling of garlic and pepperonis
the ones who loved Mussolini
the old fascists
the ones who loved Giribaldi
the old anarchists reading L‟Umanit a Nova
the ones who loved Sacco & Vanzetti
They are almost all gone now
They are sitting and waiting their turn
and sunning themselves in front of the church
over the doors of which are inscribed
a phrase which would seem to be unfinished
from Dante‟s Paradiso
about the glory of the One
                                  who moves everything....
The old men are waiting
for it to be finished
for their glorious sentence on earth
                                  to be finished
the slow bell tolls & tolls
the pigeons strut about
not even thinking of flying
the air too heavy with heavy tolling
The black hired hearses draw up
the black limousines with black windowshades
shielding the widows
the widows with the long black veils
who will outlive them all
You have seen them
madre di terra, madre di mare
The widows climb out of the limousines
the family mourners step out in stiff suits
The widows walk so slowly
up the steps of the cathedral
fishnet veils drawn down
leaning hard on dark cloth arms
Their faces do not fall apart
They are merely drawn apart
They are still the matriarchs
outliving everyone
the old dagos dying out
in little Italys all over America
the old dead dagos
hauled out in the morning sun
that does not mourn for anyone
One by one Year by year
they are carried out
The bell never stops tolling

                                            from Moving
                                                     Hamood (Sam)

so we move now
my new wife and I, my children
move further away like lost
shipmates crying to me for help
asking for some sound, some signal to understand
about this Arabic I sometimes speak what Islam means to
trying to grasp at these new patterns in the early morning darkness
floating out into the distance
and me their father -- too far
away to be of much help
to be of any use
when they wake up afraid at night
wondering what that noise is
they wonder and wander without choice in this matter
it is when we are at sea this way
that I sometimes think about a life
I‟ve never known except for a little while
in some old country of time that I remember my father and
talking about, when I kept wanting to go out to play baseball,
a certain amount of reality
where at least the whole tribe moved together

it was that way in my “old country” of
stories of truth my father and grandfather and their grandfather
         before them
everyone everything stuck together things stayed
and when they moved
grandfathers grandmothers fathers

                                               Dream Poem
                                                       Mary Jo Bona

I miss my grandmother
As I walk along Italian streets,
Old men sit hunched on steps,
Their words tumble like skipping stones,
In a dialect I cannot understand.

I walk past them; the cold air
Tastes foreign in my mouth.
Across the street, the house sways in and out of sunset light--
Dizzying my flight-- a brown girl on
Skateboard whizzes through patches of black and
White, her braids burn my cheek in the metallic air.

I knock on wood. Two black dogs, handsome as men,
Snarl and wag at the door.
I scold them in the old men‟s language and they
Whimper in retreat.
My old comare knows why I have come: her doe eyes
Are like glass before my eyes, reflecting the street
Outside. she kisses both my cheeks, grasps my hair in
Peasant hands, turns me to the door:

        And there I see her,
        Grandma with flying braids
        Looks up at me elfish and gay
        In the urban sun.
        Her eyes are older than time.

                                        Next Year, in Jerusalem
                                                        Shirley Kaufman

One by one, the ancient
shapes are dying.
But an old aunt leans there
from seder to seder
with her cancerous skin
flaking off the sides
of her nose.

Jerusalem waits
where it always was.
they are growing
deaf, though in different degrees.
Thin, yellow fingers twist
at their breasts
for the hearing-aid dials.
Should I repeat it

again for you? Slowly?
Turn up the sound. I am learning
their smiles. I am pleading.
Elijah‟s cup is untouched.
I hear myself hearing
my breathing. Loud.

                                     Being Jewish in a Small Town
                                                       Lyn Lifshin

Someone writes kike on the blackboard and the “k‟s” pull thru the
chalk stick in my

plump pale thighs
even after the high
school burns down the
word is written in

the ashes my under
pants elastic snaps
on Main St. because
I can‟t go to

Pilgrim Fellowship
I‟m the one Jewish girl
in town but the 4
Cohen brothers

want blonde hair
blowing from their
car they don‟t know
my black braids

smell of almond
I wear my clothes
loose so no one
dreams who I am

will never know
Hebrew keep a
Christmas tree in
my drawer in

the dark my fingers
could be the menorah
that pulls you toward
honey in the snow.
                                            Song of the
                                          Third Generation
                                                     Julia Lisella
I learned to read in the dark,
in the car, whenever the light
moved, shifted. My mother believed
I would burn my eyes out.

between the breath and the text
my birth and hers kept happening
in the late night
in the daily horoscopes
in the 4:30 Movie
and the huge picture books filled with Hollywood stars.
My Ava Gardner died, my mother says.
My mother learned how to read the text of a life
as her mother learned to translate Il Progresso:
by reading a little bit of headline,
any little bit.
They could both predict disasters -- my mother‟s
in American English: divorce, drug addiction
and insane asylums. Nonna‟s in rich Calabrian dialect:
earthquakes, earthquakes, and food shortages.
Somewhere between our mouths
and what we said is what we learned.
Somewhere in the old country
we breathed text
without knowing how to read.
I learned in the old way too--
in a corner of the kitchen
watching my mother pour the batter
of flour and zucchini blossoms
into bright spattering oil,
or in the cool basement at the edge of the ironing board,
the lint speckling her dark sweater,
at her elbow as she whipped the cloth
beneath the needle of her industrial Singer.
No other record, no other text
exists but the buzzing and this way of learning
in the old way, which is any way
that we can.


                                                But My Blood
                                                          Rose Romano

I‟m Beginning to talk to myself.
No one else will listen.
I don‟t fit into my place.
There are things I know and will not change. do they seriously
expect me to rearrange reality
until I happen to find a pattern
that suits their convenience?
Yeah, they do.

They all know what it means
to be insane, or else why would
they be so quick to see reality
through the eyes of those with
power? Any power --government,
literary community, Hollywood, world‟s
foremost authority, demands of the
rich, frustrations of the poor, resentments
of the working class.

What does it mean to be American?
It doesn‟t mean anything to me.
It‟s only a place -- but I have
blood, red and warm. I was Italian
when they called us wops. Now
they like us so they assure us
we no longer need to suffer as
Italian-- now, we‟re just as
American as anyone. But my blood
will not change.


                                                            Naomi Shihab Nye

“A true Arab knows how to catch a fly in his hands,”
my father would say. and he‟d prove it,
cupping the buzzer instantly
while the host with the swatter stared.

In the spring our palms peeled like snakes.
true Arabs believed watermelon could heal fifty ways.
I changed these to fit the occasion.

Years before, a girl knocked,
wanted to se the Arab.
I said we didn‟t have one.
After that, my father told me who he was,
“Shihab” -- “shooting star”--
a good name, borrowed from the sky.
Once I said, “When we die, we give it back?”
He said that‟s what a true Arab would say.

Today the headlines clot in my blood.
A little Palestinian dangles a truck on the front page.
Homeless fig, this tragedy with a terrible root
is too big for us. what flag can we wave?
I wave the flag of stone and seed,
table mat stitched in blue.

I call my father, we talk around the news.
It is too much for him,
neither of his two languages can reach it.
I drive into the country to find sheep, cows,
to plead with the air:
Who calls anyone civilized?
Where can the crying heart graze?
What does a true Arab do now?

                                          When I First Saw Snow
                                             Tarrytown, N.Y.
                                                            Gregory Djanikian

Bing Crosby was singing “White Christmas”
        on the radio, we were staying at my aunt‟s house
        waiting for papers, my father was looking for a job.
We had trimmed the tree the night before,

         sap had run on my fingers and for the first time
         I was smelling pine wherever I went.
Anais, my cousin, was upstairs in her room
         listening to Danny and the Juniors.
Haigo was playing Monopoly with Lucy, his sister,
         Buzzy, the boy next door, had eyes for her
         and there ws a rattle of dice, a shuffling
         of Boardwalk, Park Place, Marvin Gardens.
There were red bows on the Christmas tree.
It had snowed all night.
My boot buckles were clinking like small bells
         as I thumped to the door and out
         onto the gray planks of the porch dusted with snow.
The world was immaculate, new,
         even the trees had changed color,
         and when I touched the snow on the railing
         I didn‟t know what I had touched, ice or fire.
I heard, “ I‟m dreaming...”
I heard, “At the hop, hop, my baby.”
I heard “B & O “ and the train in my imagination
         was whistling through the great plains.
And I was stepping off,
I was falling deeply into America.

Women’s Poetry

                                                           Louise Bogan

I had come to the house, in a cave of trees
Facing a sheer sky.
Everything moved, -- a bell hung ready to strike,
Sun and reflection wheeled by.

When the bare eyes were before me
And the hissing hair,
Held up at a window, seen through a door.
The stiff bald eyes, the serpents on the forehead
Formed in the air.

This is a dead scene forever now.
Nothing will ever stir.
The end will never brighten it more than this,
Nor the rain blur.

The water will always fall, and will not fall,
And the tipped bell make no sound.
The grass will always be growing for hay
Deep on the ground.

And I shall stand here like a shadow
Under the great Balanced day,
My eyes on the yellow dust, that was lifting in the wind,
And does not drift away.

                                       Why Some of My Best Friends Are Women
                                                                 Phyllis McGinley

I learned in my credulous youth
        That women are shallow as fountains.
Women make lies out of truth
        And out of a molehill their mountains.
Women are giddy and vain,
        Cold-hearted or tiresomely tender;
Yet, nevertheless, I maintain
        I dote on the feminine gender.

For the female of the species may be deadlier than the male
But she can make herself a cup of coffee without reducing
The entire kitchen to a shambles.

Perverse though their tastes in cravats
        Is deemed by their lords and their betters,
They know the importance of hats
        And they write you the news in their letters.
Their minds may be lighter than foam,
        Or altered in haste and in hurry,
But they seldom bring company home
        When you‟re warming up yesterday‟s curry.

And when lovely woman stoops to folly,
She does not invariably come in at four A.M.

Singing “Sweet Adeline.”

Oh, women are frail and they weep.
        They are recklessly given to scions.
But, waken unduly from sleep,
        They are milder than tigers or lions.
Women hang clothes on their pegs
        Nor groan at the toil and the trouble.
Women have rather nice legs
        And chins that are guiltless of stubble.
Women are restless, uneasy to handle,
But when they are burning both ends of the scandal,
They do not insist with a vow that is votive,
How high are their minds and noble the motive.

As shopping companions they‟re heroes and saints;
They meet you in tearooms nor murmur complaints;
They listen , entranced, to a list of your vapors;
At breakfast they sometimes emerge from the papers;
A Brave Little Widow‟s not apt to sob-story „em,
And they keep a cool head in a grocery emporium.
Yes, I rise to defend
         The quite possible She.
For the feminine gend-
Er is O.K. by me.

Besides, everybody admits it‟s a Man‟s World.
And just look what they‟ve done to it!


                                                Molly Means
                                                         Margaret Walker

Old Molly Means was a hag and a witch;
Chile of the devil, the dark, and sitch.
Her heavy hair hung thick in ropes
And her blazing eyes was black as pitch.
Imp at three and wench at „leben
She counted her husbands to the number seben.
         O Molly, Molly, Molly Means
         There goes the ghost of Molly Means.

Some say she was born with a veil on her face
So she could look through unnatchal space
Through the future and through the past
And charm a body or an evil place
And every man could well despise
The evil look in her coal black eyes.
        Old Molly, Molly, Molly Means
        Dark is the ghost of Molly Means.

And when the tale begun to spread
Of evil and holy dread:
Her black-hand arts and her evil powers
How she cast her spells and called the dead,
The younguns was afraid at night
And the farmers feared their crops would blight.
         Old Molly, Molly, Molly Means
         Cold is the ghost of Molly Means.
Then one dark day she put a spell
On a young gal-bride just come to dwell
In the lane just down from Molly‟s shack
And when her husband come riding back
His wife was barking like a dog
And on all fours like a common hog.
         O Molly, Molly, Molly Means
         Where is the ghost of Molly Means?

The neighbors come and they went away
And said she‟d die before break of day
But her husband held her in his arms
And swore he‟d break the wicked charms,
He‟d search all up and down the land
and turn the spell on Molly‟s hand.
        O Molly, Molly, Molly Means
        Sharp is the ghost of Molly Means.

So he rode all day and he rode all night
And at dawn he come in sight
Of a man who said he could move the spell
And cause the awful thing to well
On Molly Means, to bark and bleed
Till she died, at the hands of her evil deed.
         Old Molly, Molly, Molly Means
         This is the ghost of Molly Means.

Sometimes at night through the shadowy trees
She rides along on a winter breeze.
You can hear her holler and whine and cry.
Her voice is thin and her moan is high,
And her cackling laugh or her barking cold
Bring terror to the young and old.
         O Molly, Molly, Molly Means
         Lean is the ghost of Molly Means.

                                                The Centaur
                                                         May Swenson

The summer that I was ten--
Can it there was only one
summer that I was ten? It must

have been a long one then-
each day I‟d go out to choose
a fresh horse from my stable

which was a willow grove
down by the old canal.
I‟d go on my two bare feet.

but when, with my brother‟s jack-knife,
I had cut me a long limber horse
with a good thick knob for a head,

and peeled him slick and clean

except for a few leaves for Theatre,
and cinched my brother‟s belt

around his head for a rein,
I‟d straddle and canter him fast
up the grass banks to the path,

trot along in the lovely dust,
that talcumed over his hoofs,
hiding my toes, and turning

his feet to swift half-moons.
The willow knob with the strap
jouncing between my thighs
was the pommel and yet the poll
of my nickering pony‟s head.
My head and my neck were mine,

yet they were shaped like a horse.
My hair flopped to the side
like the mane of a horse in the wind.

My forelock swung in my eyes,
my neck arched and I snorted.
I shied and skittered and reared,

stopped and raised my knees,
pawed at the ground and quivered.
My teeth bared as we wheeled

and swished through the dust again.
I was the horse and the rider,
and the leather I slapped to his rump

spanked my own behind.
Doubled, my two hoofs beat
a gallop along the bank,

the wind twanged in my mane,
my mouth squared to the bit.
And yet I sat on my steed

quiet, negligent riding,
my toes standing the stirrups,
my thighs hugging his ribs.

At a walk we drew up to the porch.
I tethered him to a paling.
Dismounting, I smoothed my skirt
and entered the dusky hall.
My feet on the clean linoleum
left ghostly toes in the hall.

Where have you been” said my mother.
Been riding, I said from the sink,
and filled me a glass of water.

Wha‟;s that in your pocket ?she said.
Just my knife. It weighted my pocket
and stretched my dress awry.
Go tie back your hair, said my mother, and Why is your mouth all green?
Rob Roy, he pulled some clover
as we crossed the field, I told her.

                                           Song for Ishtar
                                                      Denise Levertov

The moon is a sow
and grunts in my throat
Her great shining shines through me
so the mud of my hollow gleams
and breaks in silver bubbles.

She is a sow
and I a pig and a poet

When she opens her white
lips to devour me I bite back
and laughter rocks the moon

In the black of desire
wer ock and grunt, grunt and

                                        Consorting with Angels
                                                       Anne Sexton

I was tired of being a woman,
tired of the spoons and the pots,
tired of my mouth and my breasts,
tired of the cosmetics and the silks.
There were still men who sat at my table,
circled around the bowl I offered up.
The bowl was filled with purple grapes
and the flies hovered in for the scent
and even my father came with his white bone.
But I was tired of the gender of things.

Last night I had a dream
and I said to it...
“ You are the answer.
You will outlive my husband and my father.”
In that dream there was a city made of chains
where Joan was put to death in man‟s clothes
and the nature of the angels went unexplained,
no two made in the same species,
one with a nose, one with and ear in its hand,
one chewing a star and recording its orbit,
each one like a poem obeying itself,
performing God‟s functions,
a people apart.

“ You are the answer,”
I said, and entered,
lying down on the gates of the city.

Then the chains were fastened around me
and I lost my common gender and my final aspect.
Adam was on the left of me
and Eve was on the right of me,
both thoroughly inconsistent with the world of reason.
We wove our arms together
and rode under the sun.
I was not a woman anymore,
not one thing or the other.

O daughters of Jerusalem,
the king has brought me into his chamber.
I am black and I am beautiful.
I‟ve been opened and undressed.
I have no arms or legs.
I‟m all one skin like a fish.
I‟m no more a woman
than Christ was a man.

                                               Looking Out
                                                        Helen Chasin

Mother, I am something more
than your girl; still our old quarrel
brings me up.
A Miss Universe parade of ex-wives,
marketers, secretaries, park ladies
with prams, mistresses,
fiancees, mysterious female lives
shimmer and ache against my sight
like migraine.

                  The world
is half full of women, each
a face of our argument,
each with ex-husband
dinner guest, boss, lover,
or no one. Sisters,
enemies: some might understand that
attached , varied, and secret,
they are my battle.
                                              Blues for Sister Sally
                                                         Lenore Kandel

moon -faced bay with cocaine arms
                nineteen summers
                nineteen lovers
       novice of the junkie angel
       lay sister of mankind penitent
                sister in marijuana
                sister in hashish
                sister in morphine

        against the bathroom grimy sink
        pumping her arms full of life

                       (holy holy)
she bears the stigma (holy holy) of the raving christ
                       (holy holy)
                       holy needle
                       holy powder
                       holy vein

dear miss lovelorn: my sister makes it with a hunk
of glass do you think this is normal miss lovelorn
                 I DEMAND AN ANSWER!

for my sister she walks with open veins
leaving her blood in the sewers of your cities
        from east coast
        to west coast
        to nowhere
how shall we cannonize our sister who is not quite dead
        who fornicates with strangers
        who masturbates with needles
who is afraid of the dark and wears her long hair soft and black
        against her bloodless face

        midnight and the room dream-green and hazy
        we are all part of the collage

                         brother and sister, she leans against the wall
                         and he, slipping the needle in her painless arm

                         pale fingers (with love) against the pale arm

children our afternoon is soft, we lean against each other

                 our stash is in our elbows
                 our fix is in our heads
god is a junkie and he has sold salvation
        for a week‟s supply

                                          The Invisible Woman
                                                         Robin Morgan

The invisible woman in the asylum corridor
sees others quite clearly,
including the doctor who patiently tells her
she isn't invisible,
and pities the doctor, who must be mad
to stand there in the asylum corridor,
talking and gesturing
to nothing at all.

The invisible woman has great compassion.
So, after a while, she pulls on her body
like a rumpled glove, and switches on her voice
to comfort the elated doctor with words.
Better to suffer this prominence

than for the poor young doctor to learn
he himself is insane.
Only the strong can know that.



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