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   IN OUR OWN VOICES
      
          
 

by ntozake shange 

(French sugar-beet farmers, overwhelmed by mulatto competitors,
plastered Europe's cities with advertisements proclaiming: "Our
sugar is not soiled with black blood." A popular Afro-Cuban saying
is: "Sugar is made with blood," while in the South of the United
States, cane growers processed natural sugar "to get the [black man] out.")

Fragrant breezes in the South
melt to melodies round small fires
mount tree limbs
with bodies black
and swayin' black n croonin'
songs of sunsets
comin' from the fields bawdy
brazen
hard to put yr finger on
like the blues
like the strum of guitars on dark damp
 

southern nights
hard to put your finger on
like screams in the black bloody southern soil
sweet black blood echoin' thru the evenin' service
grindin' by the roadhouse door
sweet black blood
movin' with slow breath
 

outta breath
young negroes run to pick up a bale of cotton
run to flee southern knights
crosses bare blazin' signals black bloods
gone runnin'
for Chicago
for the hollow
for the C.C. Rider
for the new day sweet
blocked melodies ache in young girls' throats
rip thru their lips like the road to freedom was lit
all lit up with the grace of God and
Sears Tower
the Ford plane and Pontiac's vision
all lit up sleek fires
sheddin' the haunts of poll taxes and test questions like
where is America
cost a finger
a ear
a heart
a teardrop fallin' from the saggin' front porch
to the project stairway
from the water fountain to the chain gang
 

the night train carried smuggled goods news
of struttin' signifyin' fellas with gold teeth
neath they feet and brawny sway for blocks and blocks
far as the eye cd see from Biloxi to Birmingham
the contraband of freedom seeped thru the swamps
the air hung heavy
with the cries of "ain't gonna let nobody turn me round"
and young boys in nice-cut suits
who was awready standin' with they heads up
awready prancin' with finesse and grand stature
like men wit eyes
don't never look down
men wit eyes burstin' wit glory
from the red sedans
and the seats in schools
to the right to set wherever they want
and when the sounds of the harmonica was slowed
by snarlin' dogs and hoses
when the washboards and bottleneck players
was skedattlin' out the bullets way
up came a roarin'
force a light blue controlled fire in un-mussed lame´
pleated silk and faces
bearin' no scars
to say "we ain't been touched"
we the sweet black fires of dreams
& of unobfuscated beauty
 

like the trails of freedom
the Good Lord himself lit up
we gonna take this
new city neon light
sound
volumes for milliom to hear
to love themselves
enough to turn back the pulse of a whippin' history
make it carry the modern black melody from L.A.
to downtown Newark City
freedom buses
freedom riders
freedom is the way we walk that walk
talk that talk
gotta take that charred black body out the ground
switch on the current to a new sound
to a new way of walkin' a new way of talkin'
blues
 

electrified
blues
boltin-the-lynchin-tree
n-tremblin-n-chirren-
blues
defyin the sound of gravity
 

for a people singin'
about the sashay of blood rhythms set free.

http://archives.obs-us.com/obs/english/books/holt/books/aloud/blood.htm

 

by ntozake shange

where we come from, sometimes, beauty
floats around us like clouds
the way leaves rustle in the breeze
and cornbread   and barbecue swing out the backdoor
and tease all our senses as the sun goes down.
 

dreams and memories rest by fences
Texas accents rev up like our engines
customized sparkling   powerful as the arms
that hold us tightly black n   fragrant
reminding us   that once we slept and loved
to the scents of magnolia and frangipani
once   when we looked toward the skies
we could see something as lovely as our children's
smiles   white n glistenin'  clear of fear or shame
young girls in braids as precious as gold
find out that sex   is not just bein'   touched
but in the swing of their hips the light fallin cross
a softbrown cheek or the movement of a mere finger
to a   lip many lips inviting   kisses southern
and hip as any one lanky brother in the heat
of a laid back sunday rich as a big mama   still
in love with the idea of love   how we play at lovin'
even riskin' all common sense cause we are as fantastical
as any chimera or magical flowers where breasts entice
and disguise the racing pounding of our hearts
as the music that we are
hard core blues   low bass voices crooning
straight outta Compton   melodies so pretty
they nasty   cruising the Harbor Freeway
blowin' kisses to strangers who won't be for long
singing ourselves to ourselves Mamie Khalid Sharita
Bessie Jock Tookie MaiMai  Cosmic Man Mr. Man
Keemah and all the rest seriously courtin'
rappin'   a English we make up as we go along
turnin' nouns into verbs   braids into crowns
and always fetchin' dreams from a horizon
strewn with bones and flesh of those of us
who didn't make it   whose smiles and deep
dark eyes   help us to continue to see
there's so much life here.

http://archives.obs-us.com/obs/english/books/holt/books/aloud/people.htm





















 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 























 

 


 

This website was created and is maintained for use in classrooms dedicated to multicultural understanding. 
Material from and links to other sources have been chosen because of their relevance to this goal. 
For questions or comments, or to report problems with links, please contact:
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