Notes from the Field|"Can't Let it All Go Unsaid"

Graduate School
By Ruth Forman 

 

The book not so big
for you to get lost in the pages
perhaps you don't find yourself in them
cause they so thin
and you so thick like buckwheat honey

trust your footsteps
trust your eyes and tongue

start easy
one or two sentences per class
feel comfortable with the sound of your voice
in a small room ten people one large table

speak your heart they will hear
hearts speak to each other
even when minds don't listen
walk with your neck showing

and when afraid

trust your footsteps
trust your eyes and tongue
they come from a long place long time

if you can't find
the root in your spine
stand still and wait with your hand on a wall
listen to its negotiations with gravity

until you find the lava flow solid from your veins
harden your back
rise your throat and over

then speak what you know without translation
stand without negotiation
and fight

like your spirit already knows


sisters
By Lucille Clifton

me and you be sisters.
we be the same.
me and you
coming from the same place.
me and you
be greasing our legs
touching up our edges.
me and you
be scared of rats
be stepping on roaches.
me and you
come running high down purdy street one time
and mama laugh and shake her head at
me and you.
me and you
got babies
got thirty-five
got black
let our hair go back
be loving ourselves
be loving ourselves
be sisters
only where you sing
i poet


Where I'm From
By George Ella Lyon

I am from clothespins
from Clorox and carbon-tetrachloride.
I am from the dirt under the back porch.
(Black, glistening
it tasted like beets.)
I am from forsythia bush,
the Dutch elm
whose long gone limbs I remember
as if they were my own.

I am from fudge and eyeglasses,
from Imogene and Alafair.
I'm from know-it-alls
and the pass-it-ons,
from perk up and pipe down.
I'm from He restoreth my soul 
with a cottonball lamb
and ten verses I can say myself.

I'm from Artemus and Billie's Branch,
fried corn and strong coffee.
From the finger my grandfather lost
to the auger
the eye my father shut to keep his sight.
Under my bed was a dress box
spilling old pictures,
a sift of lost faces
to drift beneath my dreams.
I am from those moments -
snapped before I budded -
leaf-fall from the family tree.

A Short Note to My Very Critical and Well-Beloved Friends and Comrades 
By June Jordan

 

First they said I was too light
Then they said I was too dark
Then they said I was too different
Then they said I was too much the same
Then they said I was too young
Then they said I was too old
Then they said I was too interracial
Then they said I was too much a nationalist
Then they said I was too silly
Then they said I was too angry
Then they said I was too idealistic
Then they said I was too confusing altogether:
Make up your mind! They said. Are you militant
or sweet? Are you vegetarian or meat? Are you straight
or are you gay?

And I said, Hey! It's not about my mind.

I Want to Write
By Margaret Walker

I want to write 
I want to write the songs of my people.
I want to hear them singing melodies in the dark.
I want to catch the last floating strains from their sob-torn throats. 
I want to frame their dreams into words; their souls into notes.
I want to catch their sunshine laughter in a bowl;

fling dark hands to a darker sky 
and fill them full of stars 
then crush and mix such lights till they become 
a mirrored pool of brilliance in the dawn.

Poetry Should Ride the Bus
By Ruth Forman

poetry should hopscotch in a polka dot dress
wheel cartwheels
n hold your hand
when you walk past the yellow crack house

poetry should wear bright red lipstick
n practice kisses in the mirror
for all the fine young men with fades
shootin craps around the corner

poetry should dress in fine plum linen suits
n not be so educated that it don't stop in
every now n then to sit on the porch
and talk about the comins and goins of the world

poetry should ride the bus
in a fat woman's Safeway bag
between the greens n chicken wings
to be served with tuesday's dinner

poetry should drop by a sweet potato pie
ask about the grandchildren
n sit through a whole photo album
on an orange plastic covered lazyboy with no place to go

poetry should sing red revolution love songs
that massage your scalp
and bring hope to your blood
when you think you're too old to fight


yeah
poetry should whisper electric blue magic
all the years of your life
never forgettin to look you in the soul
every once in a while
n smile

Song No. 2
By Sonia Sanchez

i say. all you young girls waiting to live
i say. all you young girls taking yo pill
i say. all you sisters tired of standing still
i say. all you sisters thinkin you won't, but you will.

don't let them kill you with their stare
don't let them closet you with no air
don't let them feed you sex piecemeal
don't let them offer you any old deal.

i say. step back sisters. we're rising from the dead
i say. step back johnnies. we're dancing on our heads
i say. step back man. no mo hanging by a thread
i say. step back world. can't let it all go unsaid.

I say. all you young girls molested at ten
I say. all you young girls giving it up again and again
I say. all you sisters hanging out in every den
I say. all you sisters needing your own oxygen.

don't let them trap you with their coke
don't let them treat you like one fat joke
don't let them bleed you till you broke
don't let them blind you in masculine smoke.

i say. step back sisters. we're rising from the dead
i say. step back johnnies. we're dancing on our heads
i say. step back man. no mo hanging by a thread
i say. step back world. can't let it all go unsaid.