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By Jabari Asim

The eagle shall die
Pierced &


The dome shall fall
its high whiteness turned to dust
the final cleansing
                                     we shall be avenged

and in that time our beating wings
shall be a Black shadow
upon the fading earth. The flight of
our soaring soul shall echo
the path of the sun across the
face of God.

                                     we shall be beautiful


Possibilities for Corri

By Kevin Powell

i see you: dancing like a revelation
from an ancestor: chains swing wildly
from your kneecaps; your arms, guideposts
to the yesteryear when you travelled in search of a
beat, hold firm against the hurricanes of time: your
eyebrows, heavy reminders that your momma and your
granny and your great nana pirouetted across your face,
their ankles the ankles of that captured woman spinning
her body into an ocean full of sharks; their ankles the ankles
of a field hand spitting her bastard child into the earth as her
legs, once bent back behind her ears and pinned to the wooden floor,
cry "mercy oh lawd have mercy"; their ankles the ankles of fleeing dancers—
smokey black, rusty brown, redbone, good hair bad hair don't
know what it wanna be hair—their tough, tight, deliberate routine scored by
the bottom of shoes scraping railroad platforms: they migrate their
souls to the top of the promised land, levitating, arms waving
frantically, fingers promising to write that letter, legs escaping them
ropes and them fires and them mean people down the road, over
there yes over there they dance in chicago in new york in detroit in
los angeles in d.c. they toedance, the big toe pointing outward toward
that star, the one that scorched an earth for katherine and carmen and
judith and debbie and you yes they you they you they-you dance a sweetly
chocolate release for the millennium, they see you even when you stop
out of embarassment they see you and they smile, the footprints
on their crimson colored gums your ticket to fly....

1996 Kevin Powell


A Moment of Silence

By Emmanuel Ortiz

Before I start this poem, I'd like to ask you to join me in a moment of silence in honor of those who died in the World Trade Center and the Pentagon last September 11th.

I would also like to ask you to offer up a moment of silence for all of those who have been harassed, imprisoned, disappeared, tortured, raped, or killed in retaliation for those strikes, for the victims in both Afghanistan and the U.S.

And if I could just add one more thing…
A full day of silence for the tens of thousands of Palestinians who have died at the hands of U.S.-backed Israeli forces over decades of occupation.

Six months of silence for the million and-a-half Iraqi people, mostly children, who have died of malnourishment or starvation as a result of an 11-year U.S. embargo against the country.

Before I begin this poem, two months of silence for the Blacks under Apartheid in South Africa, where homeland security made them aliens in their own country

Nine months of silence for the dead in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, where death rained down and peeled back every layer of concrete, steel, earth and skin and the survivors went on as if alive.

A year of silence for the millions of dead in Viet Nam—a people, not a war—for those who know a thing or two about the scent of burning fuel, their relatives' bones buried in it, their babies born of it.

A year of silence for the dead in Cambodia and Laos, victims of a secret war ... ssssshhhhh .... Say nothing ... we don't want them to learn that they are dead.

Two months of silence for the decades of dead in Colombia, whose names, like the corpses they once represented, have piled up and slipped off our tongues.

Before I begin this poem,
An hour of silence for El Salvador...
An afternoon of silence for Nicaragua...
Two days of silence for the Guetmaltecos...
None of whom ever knew a moment of peace in their living years.
45 seconds of silence for the 45 dead at Acteal, Chiapas
25 years of silence for the hundred million Africans who found their graves
far deeper in the ocean than any building could poke into the sky.
There will be no DNA testing or dental records to identify their remains.
And for those who were strung and swung from the heights of sycamore trees
in the south, the north, the east, the west ... 100 years of silence ...

For the hundreds of millions of indigenous peoples from this half of right
Whose land and lives were stolen,
In postcard-perfect plots like Pine Ridge, Wounded Knee, Sand Creek, Fallen
Timbers, or the Trail of Tears.
Names now reduced to innocuous magnetic poetry on the refrigerator of our
consciousness ...

So you want a moment of silence?
And we are all left speechless
Our tongues snatched from our mouths
Our eyes stapled shut

A moment of silence
And the poets have all been laid to rest
The drums disintegrating into dust

Before I begin this poem,
You want a moment of silence
You mourn now as if the world will never be the same

And the rest of us hope to hell it won't be.
Not like it always has been

Because this is not a 9-1-1 poem
This is a 9/10 poem,
It is a 9/9 poem,
A 9/8 poem,
A 9/7 poem

This is a 1492 poem.
This is a poem about what causes poems like this to be written

And if this is a 9/11 poem, then
This is a September 11th poem for Chile, 1971
This is a September 12th poem for Steven Biko in South Africa, 1977
This is a September 13th poem for the brothers at Attica Prison, New York, 1971.

This is a September 14th poem for Somalia, 1992.
This is a poem for every date that falls to the ground in ashes
This is a poem for the 110 stories that were never told
The 110 stories that history chose not to write in textbooks
The 110 stories that that CNN, BBC, The New York Times, and Newsweek ignored
This is a poem for interrupting this program.

And still you want a moment of silence for your dead?
We could give you lifetimes of empty:
The unmarked graves
The lost languages
The uprooted trees and histories
The dead stares on the faces of nameless children

Before I start this poem we could be silent forever
Or just long enough to hunger,
For the dust to bury us
And you would still ask us
For more of our silence.

If you want a moment of silence
Then stop the oil pumps
Turn off the engines and the televisions
Sink the cruise ships
Crash the stock markets
Unplug the marquee lights,
Delete the instant messages,
Derail the trains, the light rail transit
If you want a moment of silence, put a brick through the window of Taco
And pay the workers for wages lost
Tear down the liquor stores,
The townhouses, the White Houses, the jailhouses, the Penthouses and the

If you want a moment of silence,
Then take it
On Super Bowl Sunday,
The Fourth of July
During Dayton's 13 hour sale
Or the next time your white guilt fills the room where my beautiful people
have gathered

You want a moment of silence
Then take it
Before this poem begins.
Here, in the echo of my voice,
In the pause between goosesteps of the second hand
In the space between bodies in embrace,
Here is your silence
Take it.
But take it all
Don' t cut in line.
Let your silence begin at the beginning of crime.

But we,
Tonight we will keep right on singing
For our dead.

— Emmanuel Ortiz 9.11.02

This poem was forwarded to by poet Sharan Strange.


-- February 4, 2003


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