Poems from ICON:
Begotten :: February, 1818
Douglass Panel 1
Black runs wild in Talbot.
Runs like the river runs
Runs like a child
The women do chores
In the middle of this.
Do the bulk of black living.
They hold stars on their heads.
Call the gold, grain,
Or call the gold, East.
Call it, ripe for the pluck, or safe
Passage. Say, make a move,
And call it, gone.
So much black everywhere.
Ubiquitous on trees,
Grows in a buzz
On elbows, streaks
The reeds, and strides across
The plains. A crooked
Hand out of the sand
Black hand of God, Save us.
But the white men approach,
Holding what could be shovels
Or rifles. Trying to dig
Or shoot God gone,
Right out of sight.
And still, here is this
Baby, born unto this land
In these match stick
Boxes, born unto the silt
As bold as black lighting
Or a tree. He’s a quake,
Cracking the earth
From limb to limb.
Darkness, My Mother
Douglass Panel 2
My restlessness, from my mother.
Her gift to tell a tale into the wood & dirt
Feeds me for the rest of my life.
She cups gold for me, butter
Or could be a cookie, a coin for a ferryman.
Could be a canary or just a candle
To guide her. Twelve miles
Of danger, and back to danger. Massa,
I ain’t no fool, been here all along.
A lie worth the gamble, worth the luck.
She could disappear through
The seams, the boarded wall, and into
The nowhere of night.
But I’ve come to love the blue diamond
Darkness—her risk keeps these quarters
Taut. Her grip in the huddled light,
Only has a few glimmers left.
Corn bread, coated with sugar
Or just the corn. Might be a shirt,
Her name stitched across
The yoke I will grow into.
Pieta Ghazal: Harriet Tubman Mourns for Freddie Gray
for Freddie Gray
Tubman Panel 29
I return to deliver a hurt clean—
I come to lay a boy to rest— His clean,
Sparks, yanks me from the past— I’m vibrant,
Again— an angel caressing him into a clean
Baby sleep— Yes, Lawd, again, I’m the one guiding
Saints— I knows which roots will heal a boy, clean—
Knows all kinds of elusive, elixirs to turn women into tiptoe-
Fog-whisper— My herbs had men ghost-walking clean
Through fortress walls, damn its thickness— Worked,
So this boy could stitch freedom on his sleeve— clean—
O sweet Baltimore boy, did you bring me back for
Tricks & chats, ‘cuz I can’t conjure a clean
Pulse in you— This resurrection, too
Late to save, restoring the clean
Merit of our folks— Too late for fear to strike out
And stunt your bolt, so I’m left with this clean
Option: Be Moses of the drift, pulled here to lead you home—
Here to soothe and sing you clean— honorably clean