LitBirthdays November 1, 2010

Welcome to November —
American Indian / Native American Heritage Month


Tweet us today with author birthdays!


November 1

Kamaria Muntu (born November 1, 1962) – U.S. poet

Read about Kamaria Muntu here

Her Name Is Joy

swifter than time’s in/breath
these darting prisms of colour
these long dark running legs
licorice reeds of indigo music
sliding like sweet ointments
and old jazzmen chasing ebbs of memory
tears pouring down like salt from calabashes
of proud ancestors bent by malodorous slavers

salt

making the Atlantic fragrant once more
drowning out the stench of owned flesh
a swirl of manifold spectrum
toning colours in a dream for a finally human world
and the young girl…ah!
the streets belong to her reflection
which is us
her beauty; which is hers
which is us
the certainty of her speed
her enduring run

which is ours

(See the photo that inspired this poem here)


Life Expectancy for Abdul

Daryl Grigsby’s question: is 55 old age for a Black man?

Start with this
there are no fritters on the burner
there will never be smells
ripe and holy as Sunday morning
corn muffins, kidney stew, tomato slices
on a Mingus morning

there will never be you on the porch
a fly brush of early red sun against your locs
the rustle of crisp newspapers
quicksilver like an Eagle’s span of wings
as you pause to peer through an October sky
just a grinnin’

you should not have come back
you said it yourself
there was still the itch of soda lake
beneath the thin cloth of your shirt
in your sweat
you missed the coffee trees and waterfalls
the wetlands and the women

you were no romantic though
said you often heard the booming blue wail
days, nights, years of a people’s torture
riding the Pangani coast
ghost children in the salt pans
blood curdling on cliffs
fringing palms and waterbirds
still you missed Tanzania
you had found a place there
some peace

there will never be a memory
like a snapped cord
that says I could have been with you then
me with my small babies
and younger than you
my own impossible struggles and plans

could have been the cigarettes you smoked
or some dream flamed to ashes
black man you were trying so hard
only wanting a little kindness in your life
a house of certain meal and brick
cashmere horns in the midnight hour

at 45 your legs wobbled
and yellow diamonds shattered to dust
underneath black and white keys
that ushered in your last call
again the heart not outdistancing the heart
the medicine beyond the grasp
the elder women gathering to bury another son

and I don’t know if I could have turned your pain
into something we could have lived with
because there was one more call
and then no more
and when I heard
some part of life slipped dark and heavy from my soul

start with this
there is comfort in the way of things
hiccups of breath then quiet then breath again
Abdul, you are in the marketplace
you are wind and color
dancing with the women of Mulala

(from the October 2010 issue of Black Bird Press)

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