Play Me

Play me like a guitar—
Let your fingers pluck and caress;
Strum my strings until
you find the right chords
to echo my parting lips;
Let your tongue curl as you
feel the rhythm loosen your limbs;
Make love to me in acoustic riffs.
I’ll tell you when to stop—
Our song isn’t over yet

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I Think, Therefore…

I love you . . .
I think.
I’m pregnant . . .
I think.
Two words at the end
of a statement that make its surety . . .
questionable.

And yet, was it not Descartes
who only needed the assurance of thinking
to know that he was?
And is not God called the Great I AM
because His thoughts are unsearchable?
And what is in your mind but
memories of me and us and where we
might be had things played out differently?

I think about it more than I ought,
and I’m never quite sure—
So, maybe you can ease my conscience.

Tell me, what do you think of me in this dress?
And how confident are you of the words
that escape the gate of your lips?
Think . . .
carefully—
Then speak—
And maybe our love will BE.

#ThrowbackThursday Poetry: Together We . . .

What is there left to say? That is the question we must ask ourselves this final week of BlaPoWriMo. Does black poetry/literature still exist today, and if it does, for what purpose? Well, this poem, originally published February 15, 2016, explains why we still need black poetry…

Photo by @createdbyjarrod from nappy.co

Together We . . .

Together we hood our faces,
stuff our pockets with
Skittles and Arizona tea.

Together we lose the air
to our lungs from cigarette
smoke, forearms curled
around our throats.

Together we put our hands up,
surrender to tear gas
and rubber bullets
on evening news.

Together we are body slammed
in bathing suits, flipped
over school desks, strangled
from showerheads, executed
where children play.

Together we pray for peace—
as strangers wave battle
flags, hide assault
rifles behind Bibles.

—Nortina

I Pick My Hair Up #BlaPoWriMo #BlackHistoryMonth

When your hair defies gravity and systematic racism at the same damn time!

Please read another fist-clenching poem by Ericajean, written for BlaPoWriMo!

–N

The Write Web

afro by bruce mars Photo Credit: Bruce Mars

According to May Sarton in Writings on Writing,

“A poem does not emerge off of a feeling alone. It is instead created when tension that is felt releases a stirring of words and images and  this kind of creativity could bring a sufferer from their grief.”

I picked my hair

Up before escaping to

the night to march;

it’s loose coils now untamed

hardened by picks,

up like antlers

up like storm clouds

Defiant against the system

Telling me to let go

and lay down and die out

I scream no! I protest no!

My hair will defy you and gravity

at the same damn time

My crown, my dark halo

an avenging angel to the

system,

pale supremacy

over my people over their

people and the people’s people

I pick my hair up

~Ericajean

Note**Thank you for reading. Nortina has opened BlaPoWriMo to us…

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#BlaPoWriMo – from the archives

As my dear friend Emily Dickinson ( 😉 )once said…

Much Madness is divinest Sense…
Much Sense – the starkest Madness…

Don’t get it twisted!

Enjoy another poem by Ray Maxwell for BlaPoWriMo!

–N

#ThisIsMyPoetryBlog

Life is so much more like

Parks and Recreation than

Madame Secretary.

So don’t get it twisted

when you pull the curtain back.

Poetry is just streaming words –

nothing high brow about it –

painting is lines and shapes

splashed on canvas with a brush –

and dancing is shifting weight

from one foot to the other

in motion across a wooden floor.

If I were a strong wind I’d wrap

all around you – if a river,

I’d rise up to your knees –

if a song, I’d bounce tenderly

against your eardrums, until I

found my way into your inner heart.

Life. More like Parks and Recreation,

less like Madame Secretary,

nothing like The Good Wife.

Life. Don’t get it twisted.

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#ThrowbackThursday Poetry: Boycott the Dark Girl

Welcome to Week 3 of Black Poetry Writing Month, the most controversial. Why? Some people might not like what the Black Arts Movement stood for— militancy, radical activism, not going quietly into the night…

But what I love most about this era is that black writers didn’t seek approval or acceptance, but demanded what was rightfully theirs, the innate freedoms due to all Americans. Because we are ALL AMERICANS.

The poets of this generation were unapologetic in their message, they didn’t care who they offended, they didn’t care if their opinions were unpopular. They only cared for the liberation of their people.

In a similar fashion, Beyoncé’s 2016 Super Bowl halftime performance of her song “Formation” was unapologetic in it’s message, and boy did it make some people angry! This brings us to today’s BlaPoWriMo throwback…

Boycott the Dark Girl

Boycott the dark girl!

Don’t tell them about race; Middle America
doesn’t want to face your afros and wide nose,
your full lips and round hips.

Boycott the dark girl!

Rip open your blouse, measure the humpback
on which a nation’s edifices are housed,
count the scars from raw cowhide
whipped in formation of a chokecherry plantation.

Boycott the dark girl!

Mend your heartstrings across the violin bridge,
play an empowering song with the bow of your fist.
Splash shades of brown through the stadium field—
a prism of acceptance, their politics must yield.

Boycott the dark girl!

A call for peace, an end to violence
is an attack, they say.
You were beaten, raped,
your genitals dissected and put on display.

Dance on the boycott, dark girl;

Hatred can’t make them turn you away.
Your purple skin is imperial; reclaim your domain
as you slay on the stage in Black Panther berets.

—Nortina


Originally published February 10, 2016.

Decoding Poetry: #BlaPoWriMo, ‘The Young Ones'(Poem)

For BlaPoWriMo, my friend Ericajean shares her thoughts on Sterling A. Brown’s “The Young Ones.”

Looking specifically at the lines, “It’s as far as they’ll get / For many a year; / Cotton brought them / and will keep them here,” she raises two questions: What brought us, and what is keeping us here?

A question I would like to add is: What is “here”?

What are your thoughts? Please respond directly on Ericajean’s post, as comments here will be disabled.

–N

The Write Web

assorted colors of threads by Tim Savage

Welcome back fellow bloggers! It is BlaPoWriMo time again and this time we are traveling to the Harlem Renaissance era.

Today’s poem to decode is by Sterling A. Brown. He has deveoted his life to the development of authentic black folk literature. He was also a poet, critic, and teacher at Howard University for 40 years.

The Young Ones(July 1938)

With cotton to the doorstep

No place to play.

No time: What with chopping cotton

All the day.

In the broken down car

They jounce up and down

Pretend to be steering

On the way to town.

It’s as far as they’ll get

For many a year;

Cotton brought them

And will keep them here.

The spare-ribbed yard dog

Has gone away;

The kids just as hungry,

Have to stay.

In the two-roomed shack

Their mammy is lying,

With a little new brother

On her arm crying.

-Sterling A. Brown

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#BlaPoWriMo – Saturday night special sonnet

Check out another poem from my friend Ray, written for BlaPoWriMo. Show him your love!

#ThisIsMyPoetryBlog

Each universe with which we interact
demands of us a level of respect
and complicity, yes, complicity,
while we wonder if we are hypocrits,
or merely disbelievers. As if it
even matters. And what doesn’t kill us
endows us, becomes our strength and power,
our shelter in a storm. The paths we trod
we tread, the record of our deeds becomes
our judgment day, our immortality.
Be patient with me – I’m not finished yet.
Pay no attention to my southern charm,
that folksiness you underestimate
is just a steady cadence for my march.

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Slavery Museum

Dear Friends, here’s another exceptional poem by K. Morris written for BlaPoWriMo. Please show him your love.

newauthoronline

Walking around the Museum of Slavery, in Liverpool
I come face-to-face with the cruel
Past
Where ships crossed the ocean vast
With their human cargo.

Many a negro
Slave
Paid for beautiful properties to be built
By Liverpool merchants who gave
Generously to charity
To set themselves free
From guilt.

Its true
That slavery isn’t new.
It was practiced in Greek and Roman time,
Yet the crime
Of the transatlantic slave trade
Has made
More of a mark
Perhaps because those of lighter skin
Committed the sin
Of taking those of dark
Complexion
From their native land,
Which was a rejection
Of the truth that beneath the skin
We are one in nature
(Or god the creator),
Depending on your view
Of what is true.

Our love died long ago
And I know
Not what Happened to you.
But I remember walking through
That place
Just Two lovers of different…

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#BlaPoWriMo: Thoughts While Listening to X

Tonya wears jeans three days of the week
when only Fridays are reserved for casual
dress, but who’s checking when half the
office works remote; the rest leave before
five, and I stay behind stretched between
miscellaneous requests and thoughts that
I might have worn the same sweater twice
in one week or that my boots squeak when
I walk to the bathroom as the torn hem to
the only business pants I own that don’t
fit me like slacks drags across the carpet.
In front of the mirror, I stand against the
backdrop of four stalls and pick out my
afro that shrank three inches in the dank
atmosphere below the heating & air vent,
and return to my desk, earbuds plugged,
to fill the silence with the soundtracks of
Black Panther and hope the bald white
man in the corner office who frightens
me like a skinhead with a noose doesn’t
hear Kendrick encourage me too loudly,
Fuck the place up.

—Nortina


Poem inspired by the improvisational characteristics of jazz music and the Black Panther soundtrack that just came out today.

Written for Black Poetry Writing Month (BlaPoWriMo). This year, we’re taking a journey through the different eras of black poetry and history. This week’s era is: Harlem Renaissance