this poem: 2o17

pencil fist

this poem is the product of a sharp no.2 black

keeps remixing itself

refuses to die

learned of neccesity to multiply

this poem wants air

wants to breathe deep

for those who

cant wants wings

so it can fly over the hurdles

set for brown eyed babies

riding home

on the way to school

in that world out there

where the killing ground is the corner by the store

in front of your house

on your front porch

this poem is a fierce spirit animal

a special Obeah speaks fluent

Hoodoo Vodun Ifa & Ras

sacraficing to

set the table for those

making life in the valley of death

off scraps sewn together our coat of many colors

old made new hidden everliving a new identity

not fixed quicksilver quick

always rising never eclisped

this poem is strapped

100 rounds and one in

the chamber this

poem is dangerous

like drunk poets mad prophets

preaching on milk cartons

praying a revival of sight

looking for third eyed purple babies

with bags of breadcrumbs

this poem came to play

hard ball in boardrooms

all in your face like an

aggressive forward

it will drive wont backdown movement is life

this poem wants to be saved

from forks in the road

& rocks on the path

wants to be lifted up

wants you to know its worth

to write it down on the paper

make it imortal

wants it to be known that it

wants to be paid in full

for bales of cotton

chain gang songs

muddied waters

the clang of prison gates

insist on being paid

like slavers got /get paid

this poem is turning up

for everybody that’s

been turned down

pressed to the brink

waiting for the rope

to be thrown

into the dark place they make slim patience in

this poem is a knife fighter

it cuts through bullshit

like a street sweeper

in a gang fight on a hot summer night

like a hot straight razor

slicing butter from Auntie’s freezer

this poem is singing

for those who have been silenced

it is loud full of bass & attitude

if it ain’t your tune you gonna have to dance anyway

this poem has a memory

it knows whose shoulders it stands upon

how long the night

how steep the climb

this poem is hungry

it wants land and solidarity

prosperity after hardtimes

to no chance on

rocky hillsides

on swamp land

on cracked concrete

this poem thirsts

for freedom  justice

& equity

after cotton

the lynching tree

this poem has three

eyes it never sleeps

this poem dreams of peace

while sharpening its sword

tying its camel

& promising reciprocity

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a final dream of flight

For my strivers, one from the archives to add to my new Brick House Collection

A.Nzinga's Blog

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i have a pen

i have written my own story

i read yours

it was narrow sad predictable

on so many levels

it did not predict my flight

i wrote it over the text offered

i spoke it softly looking at the sky

when it seemed impossibly far away

my story of my self & the stars

the stars are closer my pen still moves

on still water in storm in the dead of night

line after line of code

prayer cartography midwifery finessed

hexes my own exorcism of demons

tied to pages & then set on fire

deconstructed by my clever tongue

delivered directly to my executioners

who are surprised I can see them

know that they are naked & have

lost my fear of them

i have written the danger of knowing

into the story like a character flaw

it may be the death of me

but I…

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queen of the brick house

Golden

image: Golden by Danielle Bostic

queens don’t always have crowns

some scrub floors and wash dishes

some walk to work in the rain

some have hands that show the

ways of their days hard work and waiting

for the seeds planted to come to harvest

some queens protect small nations

all inside warm safe fed hopeful

some queens guard borders

defending those within from the

infidels at the door vanquishing

doubt in hears and fear in eyes

go forward is the banner

from queens in brick houses

who are taller than they should be

refusing to be pressed down they

run over the boundaries set for them

growing straight for the sky

carrying oceans inside of

swollen hearts machetes sharp

tomorrow secure yesterday

is proud of today some

queens don’t have crowns

 

 

 

 

 

 

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underwater

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the water is rising in the brick house

having led many horses to water

and watching them die of thirst

in the brick house we have learned to

outlast the rain we tread water we

can’t dance upon baptize ourselves in

the persistent storm of our lives

knowing we are not princesses we are

taller no princess could survive the floods

we have endured we have never looked for

perfect endings wrapped in rainbows rather

we look to see tomorrow is coming praying

for it through waterlogged fingers seeking

honey after the test breast stroking for life

underwater walking on ocean floors for inspiration

we talk to the dead who are often more reliable than

the living having laid their burdens down surrendering

to the water counseling those wading hip deep

through the deluge looking for light and a reason

to take one more step try one more time to keep holding up the sky

not to drown in our own tears we hold our heads up

face to the sky and go forward there is nothing else

we only go forward into tomorrow or the ocean

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Happy Cul-du-Sac: A personal deconstruction of North American holidays.

I killed Christmas over a decade ago. I wrote a piece called Xmas. It detailed my knowing surrounding the holiday practically invented by Coca Cola. I talked about old west Christmases where they got drunk and shot up the town like they did on the 4th of July. I talked about how gross consumerism topped any religious element of the holiday as I questioned the validity of the religious overtones of the day. Had the piece been more recent it would have noted how North American Holidays have become more packaged over the course of my life until Valentine’s Day and Halloween are no longer for children alone and are huge money generators in a consumer driven economy. The reasons for the murdering of Xmas are clearly still present. As the economy threatens to cave in on itself on the way to America becoming a third world country it seems a sharp lesson in learned behavior and being complicit in ones own duping. Yet there is an evergreen tree in my living room. It smells of pine and peppermint and reminds me of my beloved grandmother. Who taught me many things while nurturing in me the gift of being able to create what I need.I never published the article. I have thought about it the last few years as I have observed my love/hate relationship with holidays. In short it would seem unlikely I would indulge in rituals that commemorate events I am at odd with or disbelieve. Maybe not as strange as it seems in a country where teachers teach things they do not believe, as preachers preach things they do not accept, while the law fails us all. This dressing of the tree and buying of gifts has been a spot for me to examine the alignment of walk and talk. It has taken some time but I think I have a grasp on the very complicated relationship I have forged with American holidays.Don’t be confused by the tree. I don’t celebrate Christmas, Thanksgiving, 4th of July, or Easter. I do believe in the New Year. I like how it involves reflection, resolutions and comes with a clean slate like the turning of a page. My birthday is January 4th so the Year for me personally really begins then. This is all very personal. But I don’t think I am alone in the generality of repurposing American Holidays by North American Africans.Its true ignorance can be blissful. As a child I did what the older people around me instructed me to do. I practiced the rituals I was taught. My first acting experience was in a Christmas pageant at my Grandmothers church. I learned a beautiful story. I love stories. My love for them has grown over the years as has my scholarship. I have found many beautiful stories. Some much older than others. Some that have shaped what I have come to believe. All people have tales of origin, these founding myths guide cultures as they evolve. They hold cultures through interruption, oppression, and evolution. I am a North American African. I am from a culture interrupted, transplanted, and evolving. I am of a new tribe. My tribe must have its founding myths.Over the years I have evaded questions on religion and personal beliefs when interviewed . Perhaps because I was making them up as I went, learning, relearning and unlearning as I practiced, rejecting even as I learned, and creating where the path was bare. With age hopefully comes wisdom or at the very least knowledge of self. I have come to understand some things about my patchwork myth system that influence my personal beliefs and the rituals that convey these beliefs.I am from a land of many Gods. I believe in wind and ocean. How can I not. They are sacred to me. The ocean was the road the wind drove the ship. I believe in a most high. Someone strung the stars and watches over me. Oludumare. I am a stranger in a strange land hiding in their midst like Ifa concealed in Catholic Saints. Santeria. I have been instructed to remember. I am the child that does not forget. I dream of doors of no return. Ancestors have always talked to me since before I understood who they were. My locked hair signals I remember. I am of a child of a different drum.As such the 4th of July holds little significance for me. Albeit instructive of what one should do in cases where the government becomes too oppressive to bear. It like the wars waging around the world remind me of where I sit and with whom I break bread. I am an American by default. Still un-naturalized after an act of aggression that left my ancestors captive. My celebration of the 4th of July would seem moronic, as would my celebration of Thanksgiving. I identify with the indigenous. It used to drive my mother crazy, it was impossible for me to watch Tarzan, or Cowboys and Indians both wildly popular in my childhood. The movies left me in angry tears and my mother frustrated with my inability to accept that I would never see an American movie in which the Indians or the Africans won. The standard question at my “Blessings are Due” table is, “Why don’t the indigenous celebrate Thanksgiving?” It is a teaching point from which we

Source: Happy Cul-du-Sac: A personal deconstruction of North American holidays.

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True North: Me and Wilson

I was blessed to see and I share what I see. This is post is relevant now as we celebrate Fences directed and starring Denzel Washington on the big screen and as my community melts and continues to stumble under the weight of Blackness in America. I am forever grateful to Wilson for talking to me — albeit after death and proud of him for being so noisy — he is still talking. Listen he is singing my song…pay attention, it may be your song too.

A.Nzinga's Blog

When you are on a quest there are some things in your control and others that are left to fate. There are things you can bring to the journey but the more important things are those you take away. One can decide to start a quest, or acknowledge they are on one, they can’t decide when it’s complete they can only decide when its over. One can always quit. It would then be over. However those who have the heart to quest are rarely quitters. Thus once foot is set to the path less traveled the traveler becomes an instrument it is the quest that has life and volition. My foot is on the path and I am an instrument. I travel with August Wilson as a companion because he is my True North.

You see I know where I am trying to go — I surrender to the fact…

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The Closing of Jesus

 

i saw jesus break dancing on

a corner in west oakland

right before the banks came

to steal black folks homes

he must have been a warning

he was beautiful homeless funky

dust flying from his dreads as he

contorted his self into shapes

that defied reason with syncopation

that was undeniable beating out

the truth in a dance of the times

jesus ditty bop bopping hyphy breaking

crunkly popping locks moon walking

juking his joints sliding electrically

to the holy ghost dancing on the

corner of pine & 11th he was

facing the old train station

(it ain’t there no more – condo’s)

or the freeway that roars like

an ocean at night early in the

morning making music

with the beeping trucks

of waste at the space

where the old center

of the world collided with

the end of the world

recycling the used to make way

for the shiny and new between

the lines of hungry children

marching single file to

free breakfast lunch programs

or maybe he was on the corner

Newton died on dancing

while parents search for

work that can’t be found

pack up houses after being

hit with balloons full of

piss water tossed

by colonial goons

to be reborn drowning

underwater landless with jesus

c-walking on the corner of 14th

& willow under the mural

before laying down in the middle

of the street on the yellow

line it must

have been a sign but

didn’t nobody pay attention

but i saw it

in the middle of the day

heat rising off the asphalt

jesus barefoot dancing

near the recycling center

(closed now: shut down

because it fed the unwashed

pushing carts full of waste

from the shiny & new) jesus

best not dance there

no more wonder what

happened to dancing jesus

must have been a message

but didn’t nobody hear it

as the trucks left with the

people & the dreams leaving

me to wonder where jesus

is dancing now

 

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