Present | Sonia Sanchez

This woman vomiting her
hunger over the world
this melancholy woman forgotten
before memory came
this yellow movement bursting forth like
coltrane’s melodies all mouth
buttocks moving like palm tress,
this honeycoatedalabamianwoman
raining rhythm to blue/black/smiles
this yellow woman carrying beneath her breasts
pleasures without tongues
this woman whose body waves
desert patterns,
this woman wet with wandering,
reviving the beauty of forests and winds
is telling you secrets
gather up your odors and listen
as she sings the mold from memory.

there is no place
for a soft / black / woman.
there is no smile green enough or
summertime words warm enough to allow my growth.
and in my head
i see my history
standing like a shy child
and i chant lullabies
as i ride my past on horseback
tasting the thirst of yesterday tribes
hearing the ancient/black/woman
me, singing hay-hay-hay-hay-ya-ya-ya.
hay-hay-hay-hay-ya-y a-ya.
like a slow scent
beneath the sun
and i dance my
creation and my grandmothers gathering
from my bones like great wooden birds
spread their wings
while their long/legged/laughter
stretched the night.
and i taste the
seasons of my birth. mangoes. papayas.
drink my woman/coconut/milks
stalk the ancient grandfathers
sipping on proud afternoons
walk like a song round my waist
tremble like a new/born/child troubles
with new breaths
and my singing
becomes the only sound of a
blue/black/magical/woman. walking.
womb ripe. walking. loud with mornings. walking.
making pilgrimage to herself. walking.

– Sonia Sanchez

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Memories

nature-river-1080p-wallpaper

Nostalgia’s a nauseating

sickness

like four little girls

still trying to tear down the brick

painted on the sides

of their heads

Pocketbook scriptures still dangling

from underneath

their tongues

like a scorched covenant

under burned fingernails

still trying to get me to

remember

Truth be queasy

like first trimesters

be painful

like birth pains

I heard

a roll of thunder

and laughter more frightening

than decomposed bodies

at the bottom of bi-racial rivers

whispering

like the voice of Emmet

till when?

It asked me.

Before strings of voices erupted from some place

beyond the banks of the James River

from someplace before William Lynch’s arrival

somewhere marchin

stomping on my roots

somewhere printed on the back

of the forbidden fruit, I still

got between my teeth

a string of voices

sprung up

from the oppression

marching down the streets of Birmingham,

Chicago, Georgia, Mississippi, Harlem.

Willie Edwards,

James Chaney,

Michael Donald,

Michael Griffith,

Michael Brown,

Yusef Hawkins,

James Byrd Jr, and Trayvon Martin’s voices

sang hymns of “I told you so’s”

for my memories

like women giving birth

to still born children

Till when?

said Mr. Till.

Will you people continue to give birth

to death

still lying on the bed

of Martin’s dreams?

They sang with an authority

like rolling thunder

and butterflies in my stomach

like truth on top Moses mountain they sang

like earthquakes

cracking my memories into lynched question marks

they sang

like blood-thirsty whales behind slave ships

like ripping flesh

torn open

with Hebrew scriptures

in their veins

they sang

like diseases written into the sky

and prison chains

their voices roared

like a million I told you so’s they sang

like voices do

and they asked me a question

but their words

were few

Till when?

Screamed the segregated

Set-apart

and unequal lungs

of Emmett

Till when?

He sang.

Like the lyrics of Deuteronomy

carried up

Till when will Malcolm,

Booker T.

and Martin King

still dream

before

they wake up?