Slavery Museum

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

K Morris - Poet

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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#1MinFiction: Cycle

I was relieved to have a boy. That he was lighter than his father. That the Missus wouldn’t abuse him like all the others I bore.

He was raised with his white half, grew up to give me commands.

When his sister was born, I tried to keep them apart. She was black like me, slept in the attic…

At night, years later, I hear the stairs creak under his heavy boot. My stomach twists in knots when she reemerges with the sun, her dress torn.

—Nortina


Monday’s One-Minute Fiction challenges you to write a story in one minute, no more, no less, based on the prompt provided. Monday’s BlaPoWriMo / Black History Month-inspired prompt was the above photo of a mammy and her charge or, perhaps, a mother and her child. In that time, the lines were often blurred.

 

#BlaPoWriMo: Work

Work all day under
the hot sun; at night lie still—
until Master comes

Nortina


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: slavery.

#BlaPoWriMo: Great

“The greatest among you shall be your servant.”
Matthew 23:11

Greatness comes when
the heat has all but
killed you when the
shirt is torn off your
back when blood and
sweat mingle inside your
cheek and the crack
of the whip splits
you down your spine…

But still you smile
But still you sing
But still you wait
for the coming of
the King

—Nortina


Many white slave owners made the mistake of presuming their slaves were happy because they sang while doing their work. Little did they know, these negro spirituals were songs of sadness, of suffering; slaves adopting a religion that was forced upon them, and praying for the liberty it promised. 

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: slavery.

“Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people, because you know that the Lord will reward each one for whatever good they do, whether they are slave or free.” Ephesians 6:7-8

Without Shadows We Are But Ghosts, #BlaPoWriMo, #Slavery

Thanks so much Ericajean for joining BlaPoWriMo! Friends, please take the time to read her poem. Such vivid and painful imagery of our past. Truly, without the shadows we are but ghosts.

–N

The Write Web

curtain shadows by pedro figueras Photo Credit: Pedro Figueras

A shadow is a dark area produced by a body coming between rays of light. Without the sun, we would not have shadows.

Without the shadows we are but ghosts

In bodies

Carrying the implanted pain of

Abel and the soiled happiness

Of forced religion-

Without the shadows we are but ghosts

In bodies

Carrying the blood of the dark, lynched angels

Forced from a land

To a land of aliens

Where weapons fire rapidly into the backs

Of skin, of babes, of moms, of dads…

Where the cat o’ nine tails

swish into the

Toned plump back of a “pagan”

Whipping the passion of Christ into

This Foreigner

Without the shadows we are ghosts

In bodies of burnt clay and high hair, wooly

As sheeps, puffed as clouds

Such strange beauty!

Scarred for life, the umbilical cord

Still hasn’t been cut

As we float and…

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#BlaPoWriMo: Auction Block, Chattel No. 4

This one here’s in fine health,
young, got a lotta years in him,
not a mark on his body.
Open your mouth, stick out your
tongue—no loose teeth. Don’t
talk much; won’t stir up no
trouble with the other slaves.
Legs like tree trunks.
Bend over, squat down, trot
ten paces—no sign of lameness.
Squeeze those calves you’ll
break a hand. Thick neck,
strong back, palms like steaks,
can carry twice his weight;
rival any mule or ox. Worth
$1600 to start. Do I hear more?
Sold! To the highest bidder.
Up next . . . Chattel No. 5.

—Nortina


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: slavery.

To learn more about the history of the slave auction, click here.

#BlaPoWriMo: I want to learn to read

I want to learn to read.
Mas’sa say it do no good–
slaves reading–won’t make
me happy. What I gotta be
happy for? Look at Jimmy-boy,
come down from Maryland, him
can read, been mopin’ ’round
here all day, can’t do nothin’.

Him spoiled, that’s him problem,
like all them other house niggas,
never felt the sun burn him back
raw, never had the white man kick
him to him knees when him stop
to catch him breath, never bent
over the cotton, weight of the
day’s pickings slung over him
shoulder, so long him can’t stand
straight when the work done.

I hear Mas’sa say him gon sell
Jimmy-boy to the rice plantation
down south–that’ll whip him into
shape. Me, I stay quiet, meet my weight,
draw letters in the dirt, brush ’em
away fore overseer catch wind.

—Nortina


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: slavery.

Cotton is king – A plantation scene, Georgia. Retrieved from http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/8a4595ba-f0f4-4335-e040-e00a18066dc9

 

#BlaPoWriMo: Baby

Slick with afterbirth
is how I remember him–
if a moment can be
counted as a memory–
and Sir bragging that
he bred his finest,
will make him a
fortune, sell for more.

He was out of my arms
before he opened his
eyes, out of the room
before I heard his cries.
The delivery was hard,
I couldn’t move, couldn’t
work any. They let me
alone. I liked that–

For a time.

But it hurt to be still,
and when the milk came,
I had no mouth to feed.
So I got up, went
searching, found you.

You reached for me before
I bent to pick you up,
raised my blouse before
I put your head to my breast,
closed your lips around
the nipple, and I called
you baby. I call you
baby. Until one day
when I call you Sir.

—Nortina


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: slavery.

#BlaPoWriMo: Post-#SOTU2018 ruminations

#ThisIsMyPoetryBlog

It was a cold morning in the Bottom.
Reading “Trading Twelves” on the Orange Line
I missed my Red Line stop, so I continued
riding (and reading) to the Yellow Line
crossing at L’Enfant Plaza. Already late
for work anyway, I made a detour
and grabbed a hot breakfast to go at Saints’
Paradise Cafe. Picked up The Hill paper
for an update on Tuesday’s #SOTU speech
because it went on forever and I had
my bedtime to keep. Turns out the Negro Caucus
was grumpy all night, sad-faced and wearing
the kente of their African ancestry
around their necks to make a statement.

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#ThrowbackThursday Poetry: When Peaches Were in Season

Happy February! Happy Black History Month! Happy Black Poetry Writing Month!

Did I miss any?

Oh, how could I forget? Happy Throwback Thursday!

If you missed the big announcement earlier today, Black Poetry Writing Month (BlaPoWriMo) is back, and this year, we’re taking a journey through the eras of black poetry/literature. 

Quite fitting for a Throwback Thursday, don’t you think?

Every Thursday this month, I’ll be posting one of my poems from a previous BlaPoWriMo challenge that fits with the theme for the week. This week’s theme is slavery. So today, I’m taking you back only a year, to when peaches were in season, and love blossomed, even when tied down by whip and chain…

When Peaches Were in Season

Years later, and I still remember
your ginger hair, red like the sky
before dusk, after the sun has
set behind the cotton fields,
and we’re back in the quarters,
you lying in hay, my face in the
roots of your crown, smelling the
spiced peaches you prepared for
the Missus. One night you snuck
a jar under the folds of your skirt,
and we hid in the balcony above
the chicken coup, slurping the
slimy sweet fruit between cinnamon
crusted fingers, dripping maple
syrup between wood planks into the
den of orange and brown feathers.
It was the only time you ever kissed
me, leaving behind the sticky,
sugary stain between my nose and
upper lip. I never wiped it off.
Not even when Ol’ Whalen tore my
back raw for loving his wench. Not
when he sent me to the driver to
break me. Not when Mama Celia
delivered your baby lighter than
you. No, not even when they sold
you to the rice plantation in South
Caroline, and I watched you dragged
behind the cart in chains, still
swollen from your recent labor, and
when you turned around one last time
to call goodbye, your crying eyes
leaking streaks of blood. But I still
remember your syrupy lips, fastened to
my rough, wiry beard two seconds shorter
than I wanted it to last, the caramelized
peaches squeezed between your teeth,
your copper hair flipped over your
face, a veil to hide your deepest thoughts,
until I parted the spirally locks
and met your stuffed cheeked grin,
oozing cinnamon and maple peach juice
from the corners of your mouth.

—Nortina


Originally published February 14, 2017 for BlaPoWriMo, 2017 — a fortnight of “black” love poetry