14 February 2009

Etheridge Knight

[from Etheridge Knight's Belly Song and Other Poems, Broadside, 1973]

Prison Graveyard

The dying sun
slides over the tiger teeth
lying row on row
beneath the high and western wall.

And tonight as the keepers
march in the moonlight
the spirits will rise and fret

And fight because no hymns
were sung to soothe
their journey to eternity,
no mourners stood in solemn stance
and wept;

So the spirits dance
the devil's step, and are kept
from riding the winds to the sea.

For Black Poets
Who Think of Suicide

Black Poets should live -- not leap
From steel bridges (Like the white boys do.
Black poets should live -- not lay
Their necks on railroad tracks (like the white boys do.
Black Poets should seek -- but not search too much
In sweet dark caves, not hunt for snipe
Down psychic trails (like the white boys do.

For Black Poets belong to Black People. Are
The Flutes of Black Lovers. Are
The Organs of Black Sorrows. Are
The Trumpets of Black Warriors.
Let All Black Poets die as trumpets,
And be buried in the dust of marching feet.

Belly Song and Other Poems

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