For President Václav Havel
It is essential that Summer be grafted to
bones marrow earth clouds blood the
eyes of our ancestors.
It is essential to smell the beginning
words where Washington, Madison, Hamilton,
Adams, Jefferson assembled amid cries of:
"The people lack of information"
"We grow more and more skeptical"
"This Constitution is a triple-headed monster"
"Blacks are property"
It is essential to remember how cold the sun
how warm the snow snapping
around the ragged feet of soldiers and slaves.
It is essential to string the sky
with the saliva of Slavs and
Germans and Anglos and French
and Italians and Scandinavians,
and Spaniards and Mexicans and Poles
and Africans and Native Americans.
It is essential that we always repeat:
we the people,
we the people,
we the people.
"Let us go into the fields" one
brother told the other brother. And
the sound of exact death
raising tombs across the centuries.
Across the oceans. Across the land.
It is essential that we finally understand:
this is the time for the creative
the human being who decides
to talk upright in a human
fashion in order to save this
earth from extinction.
This is the time for the creative
Man. Woman. Who must decide
that She. He. Can live in peace.
Racial and sexual justice on
This is the time for you and me.
African American. Whites. Latinos.
Gays. Asians. Jews. Native
Americans. Lesbians. Muslims.
All of us must finally bury
the elitism of race superiority
the elitism of sexual superiority
the elitism of economic superiority
the elitism of religious superiority.
So we welcome you on the celebration
of 218 years Philadelphia. America.
So we salute you and say:
Come, come, come, move out into this world
nourish your lives with a
spirituality that allows us to respect
each other's birth.
come, come, come, nourish the world where
every 3 days 120,000 children die
of starvation or the effects of starvation;
come, come, come, nourish the world
where we will no longer hear the
screams and cries of womens, girls,
and children in Bosnia, El Salvador,
Ma-ma. Dada. Mamacita. Baba.
Mama. Papa. Momma. Poppi.
The soldiers are marching in the streets
near the hospitals but the nurses say
we are safe and the soldiers are
laughing marching firing calling
out to us i don't want to die i
am only 9 yrs old, i am only 10 yrs old
i am only 11 yrs old and i cannot
get out of the bed because they have cut
off one of my legs and i hear the soldiers
coming toward our rooms and i hear
the screams and the children are
running out of the room i can't get out
of the bed i don't want to die Don't
let me die Rwanda. America. United
Nations. Don't let me die..............
And if we nourish ourselves, our communities
our countries and say
no more hiroshima
no more auschwitz
no more wounded knee
no more middle passage
no more slavery
no more Bosnia
no more Rwanda
No more intoxicating ideas of
as we walk toward abundance
we will never forget
For we the people will always be arriving
a ceremony of thunder
waking up the earth
opening our eyes to human
And it'll get better
it'll get better
if we the people work, organize, resist,
come together for peace, racial, social
and sexual justice
it'll get better
it'll get better.
From Shake Loose My Skin. Copyright © 1999 by Sonia Sanchez. Used with the permission of Beacon Press.
(for Emmett Louis Till)
Your limbs buried
in northern muscle carry
their own heartbeat
more than flesh
wild stars embracing
in the night remember
in this southern
classroom summer settles
i hear your
fly off the ground
we taste the
blood ritual of
breaths sailing on
say no words
time is collapsing
in the woods
a mother's eyes
remembering a cradle
pray out loud
walking in Mississippi
i hold the stars
between my teeth
a blues, i could not
Copyright © 2010 by Sonia Sanchez. From Morning Haiku (Beacon Press, 2010). Reprinted from Split This Rock’s The Quarry: A Social Justice Poetry Database.
'The devil must be forced to reveal any such physical evil
(potions, charms, fetishes, etc.) still outside the body
and these must be burned.' (Rituale Romanum, published
1947, endorsed by the coat-of-arms and introductory
letter from Francis cardinal Spellman)
I am a cowboy in the boat of Ra,
sidewinders in the saloons of fools
bit my forehead like O
the untrustworthiness of Egyptologists
who do not know their trips. Who was that
dog-faced man? they asked, the day I rode
School marms with halitosis cannot see
the Nefertiti fake chipped on the run by slick
germans, the hawk behind Sonny Rollins' head or
the ritual beard of his axe; a longhorn winding
its bells thru the Field of Reeds.
I am a cowboy in the boat of Ra. I bedded
down with Isis, Lady of the Boogaloo, dove
deep down in her horny, stuck up her Wells-Far-ago
in daring midday getaway. 'Start grabbing the
blue,' I said from top of my double crown.
I am a cowboy in the boat of Ra. Ezzard Charles
of the Chisholm Trail. Took up the bass but they
blew off my thumb. Alchemist in ringmanship but a
sucker for the right cross.
I am a cowboy in the boat of Ra. Vamoosed from
the temple i bide my time. The price on the wanted
poster was a-going down, outlaw alias copped my stance
and moody greenhorns were making me dance;
while my mouth's
shooting iron got its chambers jammed.
I am a cowboy in the boat of Ra. Boning-up in
the ol' West i bide my time. You should see
me pick off these tin cans whippersnappers. I
write the motown long plays for the comeback of
Osiris. Make them up when stars stare at sleeping
steer out here near the campfire. Women arrive
on the backs of goats and throw themselves on
I am a cowboy in the boat of Ra. Lord of the lash,
the Loup Garou Kid. Half breed son of Pisces and
Aquarius. I hold the souls of men in my pot. I do
the dirty boogie with scorpions. I make the bulls
keep still and was the first swinger to grape the taste.
I am a cowboy in his boat. Pope Joan of the
Ptah Ra. C/mere a minute willya doll?
Be a good girl and
bring me my Buffalo horn of black powder
bring me my headdress of black feathers
bring me my bones of Ju-Ju snake
go get my eyelids of red paint.
Hand me my shadow
I'm going into town after Set
I am a cowboy in the boat of Ra
look out Set here i come Set
to get Set to sunset Set
to unseat Set to Set down Set
usurper of the Royal couch
imposter RAdio of Moses' bush
party pooper O hater of dance
vampire outlaw of the milky way
From New and Collected Poems by Ishmael Reed, published by Atheneum. Copyright © 1989 by Ishmael Reed. Reprinted by permission of Ishmael Reed. All rights reserved.