To sin by silence, when we should protest,
Makes cowards out of men. The human race
Has climbed on protest. Had no voice been raised
Against injustice, ignorance, and lust,
The inquisition yet would serve the law,
And guillotines decide our least disputes.
The few who dare, must speak and speak again
To right the wrongs of many. Speech, thank God,
No vested power in this great day and land
Can gag or throttle. Press and voice may cry
Loud disapproval of existing ills;
May criticise oppression and condemn
The lawlessness of wealth-protecting laws
That let the children and childbearers toil
To purchase ease for idle millionaires.

Therefore I do protest against the boast
Of independence in this mighty land.

Call no chain strong, which holds one rusted link.
Call no land free, that holds one fettered slave.
Until the manacled slim wrists of babes
Are loosed to toss in childish sport and glee,
Until the mother bears no burden, save
The precious one beneath her heart, until
God’s soil is rescued from the clutch of greed
And given back to labor, let no man
Call this the land of freedom.


Poems of Problems by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
Chicago: W. B. Conkey Company 1914


Elegy (for MOVE and Philadelphia) — by Sonia Sanchez

& now my feet are maps


a disguised southern city
squatting in the eastern pass of
colleges cathedrals & cowboys.
philadelphia, a phalanx of parsons
and auctioneers
modern gladiators
erasing the delirium of death from their shields
while houses burn out of control.

c’mon girl hurry on down to osage st
they’re roasting in the fire
smell the dreadlocks and blk/skins
roasting in the fire.

c’mon newsmen and tvmen
hurryondown to osage st and
when you have chloroformed the city
and after you have stitched up your words
hurry on downtown for sanctuary
in taverns and corporations

and the blood is not yet dry.

how does one scream in thunder?

they are combing the morning for shadows
and screams tongue-tied without faces
look, over there, one eye
escaping from its skin
and our heartbeats slowdown to a drawl
and the kingfisher calls out from his downtown capital
and the pinstriped general reenlists

View original post 243 more words

Dark Symphony / Melvin Tolson

I – Allegro Moderato 

Black Crispus Attucks taught
Us how to die
Before white Patrick henry’s bugle breath
Uttered the vertical
Transmitting cry:
“Yea, give me liberty or give me death.”

Waif of the auction block,
Men black and strong
The juggernauts of despotism withstood,
Loin-girt with faith that worms
Equate the wrong
And dust is purged to create brotherhood.

No Banquo’s ghost can rise
Against us now,
Aver we hobnailed man beneath the brute,
Squeezed down the thorns of greed
On Labor’s brow,
Garroted lands and carted off the loot.

II – Lento Grave

The centuries-old pathos in our voices
Saddens the great white world,
And the wizardry of our dusky rhythms
Conjures up shadow-shapes of ante-bellum years:

Black slaves singing One More River to Cross
In the torture tombs of slave-ships,
Black slave singing Steal Away to Jesus
In jungle swamps,
Black slaves singing The Crucifixion
In slave-pens at midnight,
Black slaves singing Swing Low, Sweet Chariot
In cabins of death,
Black slaves singing Go Down, Moses
In the canebrakes of the Southern Pharaohs.


III – Andante Sostenuto

They tell us to forget
The Golgotha we tread . . .
We who are scourged with hate,
A price upon our head.
They who have shackled us
Require of us a song,
They who have wasted us
Bid us condone the wrong.

They tell us to forget
Democracy is spurned.
They tell us to forget
The Bill of Rights is burned.
Three hundred years we slaved,
We slave and suffer yet:
Though flesh and bone rebel,
They tell us to forget!

Oh, how can we forget
Our human rights denied?
Oh, how can we forget
Our manhood crucified?
When Justice is profaned
And plea with curse is met,
When Freedom’s gates are barred,
Oh, how can we forget?


IV – Tempo Primo

The New Negro strides upon the continent
In seven-league boots . . .
The New Negro
Who sprang from the vigor-stout loins
Of Nat Turner, gallows-martyr for Freedom,
Of Joseph Cinquez, Black Moses of the Amistad Mutiny,
Of Frederick Douglass, oracle of the Catholic Man
Of Sojourner Truth, eye and ear of Lincoln’s legions,
Of Harriet Tubman, Saint Bernard of the Underground Railroad.

The New Negro
Breaks the icons of his detractors,
Wipes out the conspiracy of silence,
Speaks to his America:
“My history-moulding ancestors
Planted the first crops of wheat on these shores,
Built ships to conquer the seven seas,
Erected the Cotton Empire,
Flung railroads across a hemisphere,
Disemboweled the earth’s iron and coal,
Tunneled the mountains and bridged rivers,
Harvested the grain and hewed forests,
Sentineled the Thirteen Colonies,
Unfurled Old Glory at the North Pole,
Fought a hundred battles for the Republic.”

The New Negro
His giant hands fling murals upon high chambers,
His drama teaches a world to laugh and weep,
His music leads continents captive,
His voice thunders the Brotherhood of Labor,
His science creates seven wonders,
His Republic of Letters challenges the Negro-baiters.

The New Negro
Hard-muscled, Fascist-hating, Democracy-ensouled,
Strides in seven-league boots
Along the Highway of Today
Towards the Promised Land of Tomorrow!


V – Larghetto

None in the Land can say
To us black men Today:
You send the tractors on their bloody path,
And create Okies for The Grapes of Wrath.
You breed the slum that breeds a native Son
To damn the good earth Pilgrim Fathers won.

None in the Land can say
To us black men Today:
You dupe the poor with rags-to-riches tales,
And leave the workers empty dinner pails.
You stuff the ballot box, and honest men
Are muzzled by your demagogic din.

None in the Land can say
To us black men Today:
You smash stock markets with your coined blitzkreigs,
And make a hundred million guinea pigs.
You counterfeit our Christianity,
And bring contempt upon Democracy.

None in the Land can say
To us black men Today:
You prowl when citizens are fast asleep,
And hatch Fifth Column plots to blast the deep
Foundations of the State and leave the Land
A vast Sahara with a Fascist brand.


VI – Tempo di Marcia

Out of the abysses of Illiteracy,
Through labyrinths of Lies
Across waste lands of Disease . . .
We advance!

Out of the dead-ends of Poverty,
Through wildernesses of Superstition,
Across barricades of Jim Crowism . . .
We advance!

With the Peoples of the World . . .
We Advance!

Notes in prep for Saturday Google Hangout

Some thoughts, y’all.
1.  Blues for Alice was a completely random choice.  And might be a difficult one to do.  I am completely open, but we should make a final decision by tonight to give everybody the chance to give it the once-over,
2.  I am looking at buying an app for recording, just to have.  Somebody said Quicktime will work to record the hangout for uploading.  Al said reach out to Zack and I’ll do that today.
3.  Thought we’d use the standard KWH procedure.  Read the whole piece together, do a round of initial impressions, toss to each other passages to close read (like a relay race), then final words.  Want to aim to keep the whole thing under 60 minutes, but want to give everybody ample opportunity to participate.
4,  Best guess is that the app gives us better editing power, though only want to cut off the frayed edges at the start and finish. none of the substance.
5.  Maybe do a trial run first, make sure all the pieces work, then get it going.  Should be so much fun! Think we’ll be the first virtual meetup and first to upload!
If I have left anything off, please leave a comment at the blog (a link to which you will get later this morning).
In “Clark Coolidge on Jack Kerouac” Coolidge references this Albert Ayler music, Spiritual Unity