Mr. Africa Poetry Lounge!

18 march 1984

swing spanish moss men
machetes in hand
cut back the cane the pines & cypress
take back the soil that is our own
the cotton red with blood
rice rotting our legs away

swing spanish moss men
hang languid from those lynching ropes
air / where is there air?
we breathe our deaths so casually
like making morning coffee
the smell so familiar whiffs of it
bring us running downstairs
where ghosts step in single file
over our bodies
hoping we might see anything

swing spanish moss men while I
gather my small parcels/my past
let me tarry on just a little further
before I join you in single file
stepping over our blood kin
still flirting with death
mistaking al jolson for dr. j
let me walk with you just a bit longer
i'm learning to use my machete
in el salvador we use galil machine guns
wage war on death
blossoming despite the tortures
machetes are not always enough //

Written by Ntozake Shange (1914-2018)


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