ghana

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Ghana Calls
W.E.B. Du Bois
Dedicated to Kwame Nkrumah
I was a little boy, at home with strangers.
I liked my playmates, and knew well,
Whence all their parents came;
From England, Scotland, royal France
From Germany and oft by chance
The humble Emerald Isle.

But my brown skin and close-curled hair
Was alien, and how it grew, none knew;
Few tried to say, some dropped a wonderful word or stray;
Some laughed and stared.

And then it came: I dreamed.
I placed together all I knew
All hints and slurs together drew.
I dreamed.

I made one picture of what nothing seemed
I shuddered in dumb terror
In silence screamed,
For now it seemed this I had dreamed;

How up from Hell, a land had leaped
A wretched land, all scorched and seamed
Covered with ashes, chained with pain
Streaming with blood, in horror lain
Its very air a shriek of death
And agony of hurt.

Anon I woke, but in one corner of my soul
I stayed asleep.
Forget I could not,
But never would I remember
That hell-hoist ghost
Of slavery and woe.

I lived and grew, I worked and hoped
I planned and wandered, gripped and coped
With every doubt but one that slept
Yet clamoured to awaken.
I became old; old, worn and gray;
Along my hard and weary way
Rolled war and pestilence, war again;
I looked on Poverty and foul Disease
I walked with Death and yet I knew
There stirred a doubt: Were all dreams true?
And what in truth was Africa?

One cloud-swept day a Seer appeared,
All closed and veiled as me he hailed
And bid me make three journeys to the world
Seeking all through their lengthened links
The endless Riddle of the Sphinx.

I went to Moscow; Ignorance grown wise taught me Wisdom;
I went to Peking: Poverty grown rich
Showed me the wealth of Work
I came to Accra.

Here at last, I looked back on my Dream;
I heard the Voice that loosed
The Long-looked dungeons of my soul
I sensed that Africa had come
Not up from Hell, but from the sum of Heaven’s glory.

I lifted up mine eyes to Ghana
And swept the hills with high Hosanna;
Above the sun my sight took flight
Till from that pinnacle of light
I saw dropped down this earth of crimson, green and gold
Roaring with color, drums and song.

Happy with dreams and deeds worth more than doing
Around me velvet faces loomed
Burnt by the kiss of everlasting suns
Under great stars of midnight glory
Trees danced, and foliage sang;

The lilies hallelujah rang
Where robed with rule on Golden Stool
The gold-crowned Priests with duty done
Pour high libations to the sun
And danced to gods.

Red blood flowed rare ’neath close-clung hair
While subtle perfume filled the air
And whirls and whirls of tiny curls
Crowned heads.

Yet Ghana shows its might and power
Not in its color nor its flower
But in its wondrous breadth of soul
Its Joy of Life
Its selfless role
Of giving.
School and clinic, home and hall
Road and garden bloom and call
Socialism blossoms bold
On Communism centuries old.

I lifted my last voice and cried
I cried to heaven as I died:
O turn me to the Golden Horde
Summon all western nations
Toward the Rising Sun.

From reeking West whose day is done,
Who stink and stagger in their dung
Toward Africa, China, India’s strand
Where Kenya and Himalaya stand
And Nile and Yang-tze roll:
Turn every yearning face of man.

Come with us, dark America:
The scum of Europe battened here
And drowned a dream
Made fetid swamp a refuge seem:

Enslaved the Black and killed the Red
And armed the Rich to loot the Dead;
Worshipped the whores of Hollywood
Where once the Virgin Mary stood
And lynched the Christ.

Awake, awake, O sleeping world
Honor the sun;

Worship the stars, those vaster suns
Who rule the night
Where black is bright
And all unselfish work is right
And Greed is Sin.

And Africa leads on:
Pan Africa!

let me go

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It’s a thematic alignment… letting someone go who is on the edge of death, or who has in fact already departed… but of whom those who remain cannot let go.

Today it has been two years already since Paul died, and I don’t imagine a single day has been easy for those of us who have, each in our individual and private ways, had to let him go.

The Wish
Donald Hall
Screen Shot 2018-07-03 at 11.38.35

love is an ill wind

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Adage
Billy Collins
When it’s late at night and branches
Are banging against the windows,
you might think that love is just a matter

of leaping out of the frying pan of yourself
into the fire of someone else,
but it’s a little more complicated than that.

It’s more like trading the two birds
who might be hiding in that bush
for the one you are not holding in your hand.

A wise man once said that love
was like forcing a horse to drink
but then everyone stopped thinking of him as wise.

Let us be clear about something.
Love is not as simple as getting up
on the wrong side of the bed wearing the emperor’s clothes.

No, it’s more like the way the pen
feels after it has defeated the sword.
It’s a little like the penny saved or the nine dropped
stitches.

You look at me through the halo of the last candle
and tell me love is an ill wind
that has no turning, a road that blows no good,

but I am here to remind you,
as our shadows tremble on the walls,
that love is the early bird who is better late than never.

Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

found out

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He Speaks of Her Accommodations
Irving Feldman
What I have sought, passage outward
into the garden, where, terror surrendered,
the soul reverts in a shower of seed
–this she presents, dreaming
salvations, appearances, answering
at cave’s mouth, tower window,
vocations of hammer, stylus, string,
and shows, in every pose, her happy accident:
trou: trouvaille, the lucky hole-in-One.

Photo by FuYong Hua on Unsplash

loss and mending

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Woman
charles bukowski
this head like a saucer
decorated with everything
as lip to lip we hang
in mechanical joy;
my hands blaze with arias
but i think of books
on anatomy,
and i fall from you
as nations burn in anger…

to recover from most pitiful error
and rebuild, this is it
loss and mending
until they take us in.

the glory of a saturday afternoon
like biting into an old peach
and you walk across the room
heavy with everything
except my love.

Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

unfittest and unmourned

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Complete Semen Study
Michael Ryan

morphology: “pinheads”: 2 percent

Laborious, stumpy, droopy, askew,
blundering into one another
while the healthy sperm zips by like the varsity water polo team
on their way to a party with the best-looking cheerleaders —
unbeautiful losers, unfittest and unmourned,
O my five-hundred-thousand-or-so pinheads
floundering in this plastic cup’s murky bottom,
what would you do to be half of someone?
Wank it sitting on the toilet in a fluorescent
pea-green hospital bathroom while learning to juggle one-handed
one cup and three brown-bagged Penthouses
offered by the deadpan female lab attendant?
You’d want it anyplace, I think.
They’d tie your wrists if you had wrists
to stop your rubbing off on fireplugs and brick buildings,
much less on a hand’s elastic flesh
you’re too dim to recognize is your own.
You’re the ones who can’t be taken to church
because you hump the pew cushions
while the rest of us are praying,
and try to straddle the priest’s leg like a puppy
while he exchanges an inspirational word or two
with each of his congregation as they file from the service.
I, on the other hand, am too mature for this.
The Pet-of-the-Month could almost be my granddaughter.
My metabolism has decelerated
to that of an elderly Galapagos tortoise
I could do very well all day sunning myself
under a thick, warm shell, and could easily take the next century
to burn the calories in a slice of pizza.
In the world for which my body was designed
I would have checked out long ago,
immolated at the ritual bonfire by my two hundred great-grandchildren
roasting a mammoth in my honor,
dancing for days stoned on sacred leaf juice,
and intermarrying like howler monkeys in the bushes.
It’s no doubt due to nights like this
that you weakened and malformed
and case your own watery tails until you decompose
into what the complete semen study classifies as “debris.”
The doctors say it’s age or car exhaust or groundwater toxins
or they-don’t-know-what, but eons ago there must have been a boy
waiting for the dopey old patriarch to die
so he could do his sister sweaty and writhing in the firelight.
If their child, slow-witted and guileless,
showed the endearing but useless gift
to greet everyone’s spirit no matter their status,
they might have thrown him the bones the dogs had finished with,
which is how they fed the shunned and the shamed,
unbeautiful losers, unfittest and unmourned,
O my five-hundred-thousand-or-so pinheads
floundering in this plastic cup’s murky bottom
I hereby hand over or removal and disposal
to the now surgically gloved
deadpan female lab attendant.