THE LONNIE B. HARRELL 2018 POETRY EDITION

 

The Challenger’s 2nd Annual Lonnie B. Harrell Poetry Edition Celebrates the Life and Works of Buffalo’s Own Lucille Clifton Lucille Clifton (June 27, 1936 – February 13, 2010), grew up to become one of the most important African American writers of the 20th century.

A distinguished poet, writer, and educator, from 1979 to 1985 she was Poet Laureate of Maryland. Clifton was nominated twice for the 1988 Pulitzer Prize for poetry (she became the first author to have two books of poetry named finalists for one year’s Pulitzer Prize). Her book, “Good Woman: Poems and a Memoir” was a finalist for that Pulitzer. Her work captures the essence of the intricacies of Black life.

Born Thelma Lucille Sayles, in Depew, New York, she grew up in Buffalo on Purdy Street on the East side, the daughter of Samuel, a steelworker and Thelma, who worked in a laundry. She graduated from Fosdick-Masten Park High School in 1953. She attended Howard University with a scholarship from 1953 to 1955, leaving to study at the State University of New York at Fredonia (near Buffalo). In 1958, Lucille Sayles married Fred James Clifton, a professor of philosophy at the University of Buffalo, and a sculptor whose carvings depicted African faces. Lucille and her husband had six children together, which included four daughters and two sons. Writer Ishmael Reed (who also went on to become nationally renowned) introduced Lucille to Clifton while he was organizing the Buffalo Community Drama Workshop.

Writer Poet  Lucille Clifton

Lucille Clifton wrote poetry of her own for twenty years before she was actually published. But with her first collections of poems, she quickly gained recognition that just kept growing over time. In 1966, Reed took some of Clifton’s poems to Langston Hughes, who included them in his anthology The Poetry of the Negro. In 1967, the Cliftons moved to Baltimore, Maryland. Her first poetry collection, Good Times, was published in 1969, and listed by The New York Times as one of the year’s ten best books. From 1971 to 1974, Clifton was poet-in-residence at Coppin State College in Baltimore, a Historically Black College. From 1979 to 1985, she was Poet Laureate of the state of Maryland.

From 1982 to 1983, she was visiting writer at the Columbia University School of the Arts and at George Washington University. In 1984, her husband died of cancer. Lucille Clifton traced her family’s roots to the West African Kingdom of Dahomey, now the Republic of Benin. Growing up she was told by her mother, “Be proud, you’re from Dahomey women!” She cites as one of her ancestors the first black woman to be “legally hanged” for manslaughter in the state of Kentucky during the time of Slavery in the United States. Girls in her family are born with an extra finger on each hand, a genetic trait known as polydactyly. Lucille’s two extra fingers were amputated surgically when she was a small child, a common practice at that time for reasons of superstition and social stigma. Her “two ghost fingers” and their activities became a theme in her poetry and other writings.

Her mother, who had not been educated past grade school, was also an accomplished poet, writing in private until the day she was offered the chance to collect her work in a book. Samuel, Lucille’s father forbade it – an incident that must have provided Lucille with the determination to succeed herself. In addition to her Pulitzer Prize nominations, she was the recipient of numerous prestigious awards honors including a National Book Award in 2000 for “Blessing the Boats: New and Selected Poems, 1988-2000”.

In 2007, she became the first African-American woman to win the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, a $100,000 award that is one of American poetry’s signal honors. She received the Robert Frost Medal for lifetime achievement posthumously, from the Poetry Society of America. She produced a dozen volumes of poetry, as well as writing many well-received books of prose and verse for children that centered on the African-American experience.

Her series of children’s books about a young black boy began with 1970’s Some of the Days of Everett Anderson. Everett Anderson, a recurring character in many of her books, spoke in authentic African-American dialect and dealt with real life social problems.

Speaking to Michael S. Glaser during an interview for the Antioch Review, Clifton reflected that she continues to write, because “writing is a way of continuing to hope … perhaps for me it is a way of remembering I am not alone.” How would Clifton like to be remembered? “I would like to be seen as a woman whose roots go back to Africa, who tried to honor being human. My inclination is to try to help.”

Buffalo’s own Lucille Clifton, one of the most distinguished, decorated, and beloved poets of her time, was living in Columbia, Maryland when she passed at the age of 73.

 

 

 

Midnight

Moonlight Dreamer

(My Husband and Friend)

You are living in my dreams

Longing in absence of you

Strolling aimlessly alone

Dreaming underneath the midnight moon

I still love you. I can hear your love song

I feel compassion. Your sweet soothing words,

Soft tender touches.

I know you are holding me but not with arms

Feeling me but not with hands,

Walking beside me, though your footsteps are not there.

Even at night in my unconscious state

You sit beside me until I awake

With a husband like you

I am never alone.

When I feel lost it’s you I call.

I lost all hope and was in awe

of a scar so long so deep and raw

But slowly my scar begins to heal

I am so blessed, for one day I may reach happiness

In my dreams I will walk with you,

In your absence I close my eyes

and you are there always.

Love, Willa Dean-Harrell

 

This Day

By Sharon R. Amos

I sing of you

My friend

Mississippi’s loss

Was New York’s gain

This world was your muse

Lyrical messages from the existential realms

Dispensed with soul-stirring

life embracing melodies

From your hands

Creations of antiquities

That graced your community’s spirits

With study you showed yourself

A worthy student of the ages and the universe

Each night

I search the skies

for your celestial body.

 

A Brother Of Love

For Us All

By Elaine Barthel

Our brother of love, compassion, artistry

and peace

Will live in our hearts forever.

With song, beauty of words and inspiration

He lifted our spirits when we were down.

Who could imagine he was preparing to

leave us

A quiet transition to meet his Lord.

But oh! Such a powerful force he was

A brother of love for us all! With this being

the first anniversary of his transition

We continue to love and miss him

But his joy and wisdom and love

Will be in our hearts forever!

Let us spread his love to his beautiful

family

And all we know!

God Bless you, Lonnie. We love you.

 

My Friend

(In Memory of Lonnie B. Harrell)

I do believe that “God” has angels on earth.

He sent me one in a friend

when I was troubled, needed help and hurt.

My friend listened when I needed ears to hear

and was that supportive shoulder

when I felt the weight of no more pain I could bear.

My friend was the voice of reason

when I would have just walked away

showing and teaching from the Bible

making my faith grow stronger each and every day.

They say you are truly blessed

if you have one friend indeed.

My friend has always been there for me

no matter how great or small the need.

I could go on and on

about how wonderful you were to the end.

But most importantly

I’m glad you were my friend.

“Love Irma “The House of

Randolph”

 

 

 

July 20th

By Courtney Stokes

She stands before you

completely alone and taught to

think before she speaks.

She already has looked into her

past

to learn from her mistakes

but her identity was erased

her intellect deleted without a trace

she can’t even taste the fabrication of a personality

that comes out when she speaks

cuz she was raised to bite her tongue til it bleeds.

Her body, a false reality’s copy.

Society courses through her

veins, slits her wrist and it becomes colored with

judgment

as it touches the air,

air she no longer has the desire

to breath.

She’s been drowning on her own tears

becoming her own fears

trapped in a box nihilistic and numb

her own personal paradox

she feels nothing yet everything!

She began to find comfort

in the sound track to the horror film in her mind,

hits rewind just to find the monster

that burdens her psychologically

trapped in her mind

and instead of hearing the racket

of old memories she outta see,

she’s ripping straight jackets off

her thoughts that are soon to be,

while her friends sip Hennessy

she’s drunk of disorders two shots depression

and a whole bottle of anxiety.

Her chest is tightening her ears are ringing

cold chills running down her spin

like her demons are fleeing the scene of their crime.

Dizzy.

Can’t think can’t breathe don’t try to touch her

or she’ll scream “get off of me!”

as her head bangs with the cacophony

her guardian angel doesn’t even see

doesn’t know what she needs neither does she

doesn’t know why she’s not sure

she wants her heart to continue beating.

What happened?

Why’d she walk to the river,

stand on the bridge

What happened?

Why’d she send her goodbyes,

pop those pills so she’ll die?

WHAT HAPPENED?

What happened?!

They’ll all look to the sky

What happened?

As the ambulance arrives

What happened?

She’ll hear them all cry

WHAT HAPPENED !?

She crumpled.

on July 20, 2017 being alive

was just too much for her.

 

pearl of friendship

By Gey

like the joy

the fisherman feels

when he discovers a

precious pearl

such is the

happiness that is mine

upon finding a treasure of

true friendship

within u.

(thank u, my friend)

 

Lessons Learned #1

By Annette Daniels Taylor

Lessons learned as

bodies mend

Junkies never

remember their promises

we need to cop

Junkies will walk four and 3/4

miles

carrying a used door

so, we can sell it

To cop

We always need a quarter

We always need money for

the bus

We need to cop

We’re always going to quit

tomorrow

Lessons learned as bodies ache

All junkies have mama’s

Some junkies had a nanny

Some junkies still do

Sugar and alcohol

Feeling good

Feeling nothing

Feeling too much

Feeling mad

Wonder lightning

Questions thunder

Answer rains

Revolutions hurricanes

Standing in a doorway

Swollen fingers bad skin

Driving from a suburb

Copping in a hood

 

 

 

 

“One thing poetry teaches us, if anything, is that everything is connected. There is so much history that we have not validated.” -Lucille Clifton

 

Stop Signs

By Kat Massey

Old woman surveys her world

in a Hefty bag.

She shrugs

and steps into traffic.

 

The Struggle Is Real

By Evan Locke

You have a special assignment

my teacher said

It’s to write a poem straight

from your head

The topic can be anything that

you choose

Like family, tv or what’s on the

news.

I was biting my nails thinking

about what to write

While eating my dinner and

drinking a Sprite

Why was I having such a hard

time

It shouldn’t be this hard to

make words rhyme.

I need to hurry and get this out

of the way

So I can go beat my brother in

a game of NBA 2K

I’m losing my mind and I just

can’t deal

All I know is the struggle is

real.

That’s it I’m going to bed

I’m sad but I won’t show it

Oh wait…

I am a poet!

(Evan, a 7th Grader, is the grandson of Lonnie B. Harrell)

 

 

 

BLACK  LIFE … 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Block Party in Willert Park

By Priscilla Y. Hill

Mortimer between William and Peckham Streets

50’s Buffalo on Saturday afternoons in July

A celebration…not the Emancipation Proclamation

Or Juneteenth either, just a celebration of colored folk

coming from all over to this east side street.

Mothers bringing their own food, setting up tables

with Kool-Aid and iced tea

Daddies playing cards or dominos sipping

Old Grand Dad or Wild Irish Rose

A lively local band playing all the oldies and goodies

some jazz for the old folks and the blues for the rest of us

DoDo Green impressing everyone with her husky

sexy voice and blond hair

Count Rabbit, a legend already, did part two

whipping out the blues, sweating and crying

Ooh the old ladies loving his music, bumping

and grinding and smiling and swaying

Others dancing the swing, twirling their partners around

Little boys and old men peeking a look

under their skirts, snickering and sweating

Teens like me trying to sneak a slow drag sometimes

escaping the stern gaze of our community mothers

aunts and grandmothers

Young boys playing handball on the Willert Park wall

Children running around chasing each other, playing tag

giggling at the older folk trying to get their groove on

Then the sun starts to rest its glorious head behind

the project buildings

And us too, gathering up our stuff that memories

were made of

Our summer block parties came suddenly

but were gone too soon

when we played out the visible sculptures

on the A.D. Court walls, on Spring Street

depicting our past and present lives of

families together, working, children playing

jumping rope, reading and especially

the black slave fleeing with her child

or the Negro Union soldier returning home

the daily rituals carved on the apartment doorways

keeping our history alive

Stuff that memories were made of

But no one noticed…then

 

Reflection

They probably

Never heard of

Emmet Till

Or America’s bloody

Lynching years

So Black Lives

Don’t matter much

To them

Whether it’s a Black

Life taken

At the hands of racists

Or even their own.

How can you

Take a life

For sneakers and

A gold chain?

Is the reflection

Of you

In the face of your

Victim/your brother

So full of pain

Is the hatred of self

So deep

That it has driven us

Insane?

 

Jasper Texas 1998

Lucille Clifton,

1936 – 2010 for j. byrd

i am a man’s head hunched in the road.

i was chosen to speak by the

members of my body.

the arm as it pulled away

pointed toward me, the hand

opened once and was gone.

why and why and why

should i call a white man brother?

who is the human in this place,

the thing that is dragged or the dragger?

what does my daughter say?

the sun is a blister overhead.

if i were alive i could not bear it.

the townsfolk sing we shall overcome

while hope bleeds slowly from my mouth

into the dirt that covers us all.

i am done with this dust.

i am done.

(James Byrd Jr. was an African-American man who was murdered by three white

supremacists, in Jasper, Texas, on June 7, 1998 . Byrd was chained at the ankles, tied to

the bumper of a truck, and dragged to his death outside of Jasper, near Houston.)

 

The Sidewalk

©2009 (verse 1)

by Edreys Wajed

Deals get made here, and

drunks piss on me,

Bottles get smashed and bodies

bleed on me.

I know all the kicks by the feel

of the grips,

I know the difference between

Air Force 1’s and Stan Smiths

or Timbs with the bubble-gum

soles and lose laces,

I can identify their bop, but I

can’t make out faces.

I’m the hardest thing in the

hood, the glue of the block,

I can’t speak but I can tell you

about the number of shots,

Because I preserve those hot

shells and hold a couple of

rounds, and get sprayed when

the fire trucks are hosing me down.

Hustlers are loyal to me

because they know I can’t snitch,

And they know I understand

about rocks and bricks,

Cracks and nicks, and barbecue

chips in brown bags,

Watching ashes blow away, as

they’re taking a drag.

See I’ve raised these youngins’

like they were my kids,

And most times this is where

                          life ends…on the SIDEWALK

*The Sidewalk verse 1 is part of a 3 vs poem that will be published in full for Edreys Wajed’s new book of poetry entitled “a capella released April 30  2018  can be found on on www.byedreys.com and also available for order on Amazon.com

 

 

 

 

  My Poetry Is Deep

By Mack Neal

My poetry is deep

(how deep is it?)

I mean deep like the debt that

America owes us

or deep like a grave or an

in-da-streets slave

or an industry slave/ or a new

aged digital slave

with computerized whips and chains

but us BLACK MEN still die

over whips and chains.

They say-gang violence is the problem

but you and me get shot down

when we speak unity

just ask our

‘’MARTIN LUTHER KINGS HAVE A DREAM ‘’

OR OUR MALCOM X’S

OR OUR 2 PAC’ S

WHO TOOK 9 SHOTS

and stopped speaking thug life

and tried to denounce blocks

while Elvis stole black songs

to make the jail house rock .

They ship kilos and metro

domes ( you know the army navy & cops )

to America’s households and we get knocked

and go to jail from slanging little rocks

meanwhile a catholic priest at confession

asks a little boy to touch his …..

and we shocked.

Dynamic dudes die from adversity

and IT WAS A TIME when

a BLACK MEN AND WOMEN

couldn’t even learn at a university.

It was a curse to be /ME

BLACK MAN.

NOWA-DAYS everybody wants to be that

but its more to being Black

than what’s on B.E.T & I bet

that you watch shows

to glamorize or demoralize

ARRESTING me

like the C.O.P.S & THE WIRE

but the cops be wildin’.

Who is going to put the wires on the cops

to infiltrate the bad seeds

before they proceed to do the devil’s deeds?

And no Mr. President I will not

fight for this racist nation

that gave us Nathan

and they still hate our faces.

DONT LET THEM ‘’WILLIE

LYNCH’’ YOU 1712!

MY POERTY IS DEEP!

(HOW DEEP IS IT? )

Mack Neal is also known as ‘’The Epileptic MC’’

 

 

 

 

IN  THE  SPIRIT  …

 

 

 

 

 

Oh! Precious Spirit

By The Lit-Mus Study Club

Oh! Precious Spirit

I need thee with me.

As darkness threatens

My fears increase

And I search for

That guiding light,

That flicker of hope

To warm my soul.

Oh! Precious Spirit

Guide me along

The proceeding night.

Have mercy on me

To give me peace

And joy I pray.

Lead and show me

Through the coming day.

Oh! Precious Spirit

This far you have led me

Directed me on

Over the hills,

And down in the valleys.

So fresh and green

Such beauty

You have never seen.

Oh! Precious Spirit

In this hour of despair,

I need the Lord

To lead the way.

Then, I should follow

Only in you Lord

With your infinite mercy

Protecting and comforting me

And always being there.

Oh! Precious Spirit

My heart truly knows

You are only a prayer away.

On bended knees

As my spirit soars

I send my praises to thee.

Oh! Mighty God,

May your healing blessings

Be shown on me.

Oh! Precious Spirit

To impart that faith

Of that silent night,

I hope and pray

To reach my goal,

To use my God’s given gift

And blessings,

To witness and encourage

The healing of some poor lost soul,

Helping him find his way to you.

Amen.

©December, 2003

 

The Lit-Mus Club Study Club of Buffalo was one of the oldest African American lady’s music and literature study group in New York State. It was a part of the Empire State Federation of Women’s Club, Inc. in New York State. The poem ‘Oh! Precious Spirit,’ was dedicated to a club sister who passed away, Sister Mary Crosby Chappelle. The members felt this poem reflected her life serving the Lord. These are the names of the club sisters who are the authors and each contributed a portion to the writing of the poem: “Oh! Precious Spirit”: Sharon L. DuBard, Willah B. DuBard, Violet B. Hall, Carolyn B. Thomas, Freddie M. Thompson, Christine Lillard, Ingrid Jackson, Marilyn Foote-Kragbe’, Ruth L. Hollie, Amerion B. Carter, and Mary F. Kemp.

 

 

 

 

Sistah Prayer Warrior

By Patricia Navaroli

She prays with Zeal.

She prays with Zest.

She prays everyday with

Very little rest.

She prays because

She loves God the best.

She prays for her Husband.

She prays for her Daughters

She prays for her Sons.

She prays with love

For Everyone.

She prays with

Amazing Grace

She prays hoping to finish

This race.

She won’t stop praying until

She sees His face.

 

There Will Come a Day

By Helen McDonald

There will come a day, you’ll realize you didn’t get away.

You tell your lies “You shot because you feared your life”

Killing in front of the children, and the wife.

You say you thought it was a gun,

but they put their hands up, got on the ground

After all no gun was found.

It’s not just the ones with a badge, its each one of you that shoots

a gun

Used a knife, or your poisonous tongue, that took a life.

You will be convicted, you cannot escape.

CONFESS-REPENT-CHANGE YOUR WAYS!

Believe me there will come a day.

You know what you did and your real motive why

You took lives when they didn’t have to die

Yes there will come a day.

God has given us life, you have no right to take one.

All lives matter to GOD! So know this, there will come a day

When you must kneel ·before Him, then what will you say?

 

I’m Standing

By Priscilla Green

I wake up every morning, I

kneel myself to pray

I ask the Lord to help me, to

make it through the day

I’m Standing.

I reach out for my Bible, to

gain a word of strength

It gives me reassurance, god is

with me to the end

I’m Standing.

I race out the door with

eagerness, no matter what the

weather may be

Rain, wind, snow or ail, I put

all my trust I Thee

I’m Standing.

As I run out through the

darkness, trying to stay right in

the light

I can hear my Heavenly Father,

say, keep running don’t lose

sight

I’m standing.

I’ll Lift Mine Eyes Unto The

Hills From Whence Cometh

All My Help

My Help Cometh From The

Lord, this confidence I’ve felt

I’m Standing.

As I face my peers and

fellowman, to make my honest

wage

I face so many obstacles, it

reminds me of old days

I’m Standing.

I thought that things have

changed a lot, but I see we

have a way to go

But hold on to the Word of

God, for this none thing I know

I’m Standing.

As I try to bear the weight of

days in doing what is right

Sometimes they try to set me

up but I hold back, I just listen,

don’t fight

I’m Standing.

‘Cause Weeping May Endure

for a Night, But Joy Comes in

the Morning Light

God knows just how much we

can bear, Vengeance is His.

Believe me He cares

We’re Standing.

And when I Lay Me Down to

Sleep, I thank the Lord My

Soul He Keeps

And If I Die Before I Wake, I

Know My Soul The Lord Will

Take

Because He’s Standing.

Because He’s Standing.

Because He’s Standing!

 

 

 

TIME

The pain I feel all the time

Thinking of you, you’re on my mind

Some days I wonder what if it

was me instead of you

Would you still be here?

Time, that’s what everyone says

Give it time

I am tired of time

It doesn’t fix my broken heart

It doesn’t heal my pain

Time doesn’t bring you back

Time is so precious because

you never know when its

Time to go

I don’t know how time works,

but you can

Lose a loved one in a blink of an eye.

You disappeared so fast I

couldn’t even say goodbye

Come back, I said, come back

I didn’t have enough Time

By Maariyah Mustafa, Age 13

In loving memory of Naseer

Alwakee

February 12, 2001 – October

27, 2017

 

Master

By Christopher L. Dyson

There is no sound

In the voice

that surrounds us all

Only the slithering movement

as he wraps one hand around his staff

and readies his whip

with the other

Nusquam Et Ubique

Always there

always watching

There is no sound

In the thickness

of the midnight air

There is no sound

or even ears

To tell it’s real

 

THE JOURNEY OF US/US BLACK WOMEN

By Shirley Sarmiento

This has been quite a journey

a long struggle

the quest for my own identity

buy no means

it has not been easy

matter of fact

one of the

hardest things US BLACK

WOMEN

have ever done

is to be

here now

in the presence

was not

an easy task

finding our places

locating our spaces

in search of our own true selves

has finally arrived

We are us

Black Women

is me and my sistergirls

don’t have to act

look or be white ness anymore

We have arrived and found us

easy it has not been

considering all the

thoughtlessness

US BLACK WOMEN have

endured throughout the passage

of time

It has been an

exhausting difficult journey

for US BLACK WOMEN

Steadfast and always fighting

the fight

keeping our

dreams alive

always in front of us

holding on

of course for dear life

the need to feel

the need to be

never letting go of our own existence.

 

 

 

PEACE

By Julio Jordan

To be positive and at peace,

Doesn’t mean the nonsense will cease,

It just means that through it all,

You’ve found a release,

A calm in your heart,

Mind and your soul,

A clearer way of thinking,

Allowing your blessings to unfold,

Turning a negative into a positive,

Looking at your cup half full,

Staying away from the drama,

Not letting it pull,

You into it,

Just go the other way,

Far from it all,

Controlling your emotions every day,

There’s a balance,

We need the good and the bad,

But the way we deal with it,

Like being happy when life makes you sad,

It’s all a choice,

You decide what to do,

For me it helps to move forward,

It helps me get through,

Wallowing in self pity,

Doesn’t help us none,

Stay focused on the outcome,

You are far from done,

Today might have been difficult,

Tomorrow we don’t know,

All we can do is have faith,

Hoping the winds of change blow,

In our favor,

Change course and direction,

But today this day,

We must take heed of the lessons,

Learn and prosper,

Each day alive we grow,

Remain optimistic,

Even when you’re at the lowest of the low,

Things will get better,

No way but up from there,

You’re a survivor,

Who will always persevere,

You’ve done it,

Again and again,

Your strength and courage,

Have been your best friend,

Never let you down,

Even when the world was against you,

Never let them see you frown,

Patience is a virtue,

Keep smiling,

Remain positive in your heart,

Set your mind free from negativity,

Don’t let it break you apart,

Your day is coming,

Hope you see it,

Believe it,

If you want it so bad,

Then go ahead and achieve it,

Rise above your problems,

Don’t remain beneath them,

Be fair to yourself,

Attitude reflects the outcome,

I believe in you,

As I believe in myself,

If you don’t believe in you,

There’s no way no one else,

Can free you,

From those mental shackles,

That negative energy,

Will seek and attack you,

You’ll run away from it,

But won’t get far,

Until you change your way of thinking,

I know at times it’s so hard,

I’ve been there before,

Nearly drowned in my tears,

But I weathered the storm,

By conquering all my fears,

Trust these words which I speak,

From my heart they are true,

Start seeing the good versus bad,

Think positively,

You’re long overdue!

 

 

 

 

Essence of Black

By Antoinette Hall

The essence of Black,

is the deepest force of life, that

has been given to this world.

The essence of Black,

is the shadow of the past, of a

proud people, and nation.

The essence of Black,

has never given in to the

system, or society of the world

domination.

The essence of Black,

is the foundation of strength of

a people, who has been chosen

to lead a lost world. With an

unmistakable character to love

all people without malice of

forethought.

The essence of Black, represents

a race of people, who has lived

on the earth, and ate of the

fruit of the vine That God has

provided for all to be healthy.

The essence of Black,

is the essence of a surviving

people, who has inner

beauty to share kindness,

encouraging words, and spiritual

enlightenment.

The essence of Black,

is the generation who has fought

to gain equal treatment in this

system. Yet all those who stood

up for our rights, has been

systematically eliminated from

this life, to keep a strong people

down!

The essence of Black,

will always endure life’s trials,

and pressure.

We will continue to strive to

reach our goals, dreams, and

aspirations.

We will never give up the good

fight! Nor the struggle to be

reconized as a free spirit.

To rise to success in this life,

until God calls us home to be by his side !

 

 

 

 

 

BIRTH

By Dr. Anthony Neal

This is how the story should

be told.

Australopiticus wakes and

strolls

Through the Garden of Eden.

Teleological fruit is sweet but

remains uneaten

While building testaments to

time and never receding.

Then She gave birth to the

Queen of Sheba.

Then She gave birth to

Imhotep.

Then She gave birth to Chaka

Zulu.

Chased from the Garden of

Eden,

She was forced to walk among

a den of thieves

And adorn herself from the

earth below:

Twigs, branches, and leaves.

But she still gave birth to

Nelson Mandela.

But she still gave birth to

Kwame Nkrumah.

But she still gave birth to

Jomo Kenyatta.

Kidnapped from her home; on

the seas condemned to roam.

Broken with the lash and

tarnished with the whip …

Experiencing an eternity of

sadness ship after ship.

And yet she gave birth to

Frederick Douglass.

And yet she gave birth to

Ida B. Wells.

And yet she gave birth to

Marcus Garvey.

And yet she gave birth to

W.E.B. DuBois.

Some of her sons were shown

lying in the streets and hanging

from trees.

Some of her daughters were

ridiculed and beaten to their

knees.

Some of her songs are sad but

sound like caged birds singing!

Some of her bells are muffled

but somehow they keep on

ringing.

And somehow she gave birth to

Martin Luther King, Jr.

And somehow she gave birth to

Fannie Lou Hamer.

And somehow she gave birth to

Malcolm X.

And somehow she gave birth to

Rosa Parks.

And somehow she gave birth to

Thurgood Marshall.

And somehow she gave birth to

Shirley Chisholm.

Please perpetuate Her glory by

telling Her story.

Let the world know that each

and every line is true

Because we know her story by

heart; she endured it all

And she gave birth to me; and

she gave birth to you.

(“Birth” isf rom from Dr. Neal’s latest book of poetry, “Love Agnostic: The Eternal

Protest: From 9/11 to Charleston” )

 

Airplane Mentality

By Flexx Godd

It Flew 7 miles above your

head

Surrounded by a new View on

old sights

The words I said to you

Said nothing about you

But please look up

See past the greens and browns

Reaching into the whiteout

smeared across

the blue canvas

Look up

Let your eyebrows raise in

suspicion of this

new perspective

Look up

Past your insecurities

Past your transgressions

Past your failures

Past your past

extend your wings and fly

Let your imagination soar to

new levels

New beginnings

New success

Look up & Envision life

From a new perspective

Find peace in the pieces of

your shattered dreams

Find love in what can never be

found again

Seek past the sky

Find hope in what isn’t

And clarity in knowing

It doesn’t have to be what it is

It…You

can be sooo much more

Look up

Look up

Look up

 

 

 

 

BLACK BUFFALO

By Abiodun Oyewale

Amidst the snow and cold climate

There is a warmth here

There is a love

That only black people can bask in

There is a coming together

Of kindred spirits

To make the sun shine

Even on a snowy grey day

Call it Kwanzaa

Call it the Maafa

Call it Sankofa

Call it Juneteenth

Black folks in Buffalo

Are in Africa all year round

Marcus and Harriet still live there

And celebrate their love for freedom

Here in Buffalo

There is space to breathe Black

And a reason to know

That we are royal

No matter where we go

Like Imhotep said

We still wear the crown

In spite of what others might say

We will find a way to master the day.

 

No Opportunity Wasted (N.O.W.)

By Eric

Living in the NOW

(No Opportunity Wasted)

Helps me to smile.

I learned to slow down/look

around

Enjoy things in the air

And on the ground.

No pushing, no fast paced life

No Opportunity Wasted

Means living in the here and

NOW.

It gives me a reason to smile.

NOW I stop and pause

Because there is a cause

To enjoy every moment

of the 7/24/365

That we alive.

 

 

 

 

JOY  PAIN  SUNSHINE  RAIN  ….

 

 

I Am A Woman

By: Kia Marlene

I am a woman

I am the prize

Heaven in between my thighs

Galaxies in my eyes

Known to give the toughest

man butterflies

The strongest force there is,

couldn’t be tore down

if other energies tried

I am a woman

Whose womb is sacred just like

the blood that flows from it

Powerful

A living library

Occupied by the souls of my

ancestors and predecessors

Seraphic frequency

A celestial being that operates

out of love

without thinking nothing of it

I am a woman

Who can nurture the souls of

broken men

Who can heal my own temple,

Connect with the energy of the

Mother Goddess

and access knowledge just by

using my intent

I am a woman

Who has the strength of a million

males

The softest touch like chinchilla

tails

I am the original so my soul is

filled with many tales

I am a woman

A protector and provider

Can still stand or be a rider

Be a lover or a fighter

Transform dark into lighter

I am a woman

Who operates more from the

right brain than the left

Who can create joy when nothing

is left

Who was able to make myself

whole again

when that man left

I am a woman

Who overflows with emotions

Yes I cry oceans

But I can alchemize my tears to

give me vitality

and turn them into the most

magical potion

I am a woman

Whose heart is the sun

radiating enough warmth to

heat up nations

and keep things in tune

Whose soul can fill rooms

Whose energy cause things to

bloom

Whose womb is connected to

the moon

And with every new cycle is a

transformation

and the chance for me to

become anew

I am a woman

The divine

The source

The feminine

Magnetism

Earth

The vessel that gives birth to

Gods

I can create universes and

destroy illusions

The universe dwells within me

as I am it

I am a woman and I am proud

to be that

 

 

 

 

Bitter Black Woman

By Cassandra Gilmore-Austin

Bitter Black Woman don’t be

so mean

Bitter Black Woman try to

observe the scene

Wondering why the world is so unfair

Trying to fit in where there is not a care

Only to find out that there are

bitter tears

Finding things out that brought

on anger and pout

Trying to maintain your least doubt

Bitter Black Woman you ask

yourself why?

Only to find out that you only tried

Tried to be the good black

woman that deserves to be loved

But only to encounter the pain

and turmoil of a dead dove

Becoming numb

Not to let go and only becoming one

Keeping all the love you have

bottled up within

To safe guide your heart from

all the ridiculous sin

Wondering when it will all end

So that you are able to breathe again

Exhaling your deepest thoughts

and letting go the devils torch

Praying to God to watch over

you and hoping that someday

you won’t be so blue

Bitter Black Woman don’t be afraid

Try to keep the spirt that God has made

Try to maintain positive thoughts

Empower yourself to safe

guide your heart

Never settle for less, settle only for the best

Bitter Black Woman be happy now

Forgive those who are untrue and unclear

For you will be blessed no matter what you fear!

 

Dresses

By CaTyra Polland

She wants to leave but is afraid

she tastes her blood often

blood mixed with tears mixed

with more blood

her self esteem is valley low,

so she stays

she’s used to I’m sorry

she knows it will happen again

she remembers the angles of

each room

at times she lay on the floor or

was slammed against a wall

blood stains throughout the

house identified as spilled wine

medical bills in boxes

underneath the bed

she never wore makeup, now

she has no choice

hidden bruises

mountainous lies

she know pain well

like the ocean knows waves

like the sky knows clouds

However, there are brief moments

of joy, moments without pain

Her dresses bring her joy

She has loved dresses since her childhood

She has 2 closets full of dresses

She color coordinated her

dresses like the rainbow

When she is alone she admires

her collection

She actually remembers when

she received each dress

In fact it’s embedded in her memory

Her dresses bring her joy but

also immense sadness

The dates she received the

dresses are etched in her mind

the dates document hospital

visits prompted by her lover

he would come to her bedside

with a brand new dress each time

She loves her dresses like her

lover-with hesitation

they are beautiful but

dangerous

appealing but damaging

To accept the dress is to

surrender

The dresses are a constant

reminder

she knows pain well

like the ocean knows waves

like the sky knows clouds

She knows pain well

Like a well knows water

Like a desert knows heat

Daggers in heart

Needles in spine

She knows pain well…

 

 

 

 

Know Your Self-Worth

By Shannon Spruill

There is no one

that will love you

better than you.

Your love for yourself

will never fail

Intimate knowledge of self,

helps you push through

Trust your reflection of beauty

and self-worth

Ban those negative thoughts

about yourself

And experience a wonderful

rebirth.

Perfection should not be

your end result

Reinforced self-worth should

be your destiny

Positive thoughts

and an internal consult

Grow and know your true

identity.

Rephrase your internal script

about yourself

When thinking negatively

about who you are

Return and ban those thoughts

to an empty shelf

And remember that you are a

shinning star!

 

Black Woman

By Allie Freeman

I believe in you black Woman

The power you exude, the level of your truth

In measure you are a power though you may stand aloof

I believe there is still work to do

Can we sit a while and just breath?

Many of us are under siege

Look around, who do you see?

A few in corporate America,

bursting through that ceiling graciously, intelligently

Representation, giving pride to you and me

Education, a high priority, Lawyers, M.D.’s,

PhD’s, Masters, and BA degrees

Effecting influence day by day.

There is also a scenario unpleasant to see

Black Woman struggling with minimal wage

trying to raise families, difficult indeed

That drug addicted sister, that suicidal, depressed forgotten one

Needing our attention, advocacy, doing it alone

That mother who is burying her child

killed, jailed, gun, domestic violence

While praying for strength all the while.

Yet some of us are mean, evil, repeaters of gossip,

unsisterly acts, back stabbers to be exact.

How can we expect to win this war,

this attack on our souls, our families, our intellect?

It is much better to unite.

The group is mightier than an individual plight.

The challenge is to be kind, considerate, be there,

advocate for rights.

Make this day, a new beginning

let the motto be, I will support my sisters, I will be free

to fight the system, to make a better community.

Practice a spiritual connection.

Let it be !

 

CELEBRATION FOR AN AFRIKAN KING” On Tuesday, May 8 the family of the late Lonnie B. Harrell and the Community Health Center of Buffalo, Inc. held a poetic celebration of life honoring Brother Harrell. About 40 people gathered at the Centers’ 34 Benwood location and shared spoken word poetry and stories about the entrepreneur, artist and poet often referred to as “The Love Doctor.” Lonnie’s smooth romantic lyrics and his beautiful old school singing made his performances always an unforgettable experience. His wife Willie Dean opened the program with a moving poem dedicated to her husband of over 50 yrs. His daughters also gave touching remembrances of a father they cherished and held in high esteem. It was a wonderful program for a much deserved and truly missed member of this community!

 

 

 

 

Emotion

By Karla Thomas

I am an emotion…

Wandering, searching, looking

for a place To reside

Caught up in the endless confusion

And organized chaos of mental

homelessness

I am an idea

Burning bright with originality

Laying tracks to a new destination

I am a demographic

While I am photographic

I am Not geographic, I’m telepathic

I am an idea

To find my way

I must call on my

Inheritance, my instincts

Which makes much better decisions

Than my intellect; my instincts

Are that inner voice that is quiet

Because it is only talking to me!

Instincts guide my restoration

from the inside out

And wisely tell me that

When I am betrayed, I have the

unfinished

Business of loving them any way

I am an emotion

Wandering, searching, looking

for a place

To reside

Caught up in the endless

confusion

Of organized chaos called

mental homelessness

Seeking a castle that proffers

safety, and inclusion, and embraces

Non-judgmental, undeniable, genuine,

Unwavering, ride and die,

Wakanda love!

I, am an emotion….

 

I SEE YOU

By Latise Hairston

I see you. You black man.

Dark and lovely. Full of life

I see you child born of a

woman wrapped in pain,

I see you. Though the world

sees you not.

Invisible, devoid of humanitya

figment of someone’s dark vision of you.

But I see you.

I see the soul that lives. The

joy that breeds. The heart that pounds.

The feet that run to your

destiny with purpose.

Laughter & joy. No more guilt and shame.

I see you.

Black & beautiful

White & dewy

Brown & Bronze

Red & rich

Yellow & Mellow

I see you. I love you.

Bright & Diverse

Fierce & Faithful

Mothers, Daughters, Fathers, Sons

Rise up!

Own the call to live, to love, to freedom.

To exist wholly and boldly in your purpose.

Feet walking, toes tapping, voice roaring.

I seeee YOUUUUU!

 

 

 

 

July 20th

By Courtney Stokes

She stands before you

completely alone and taught to

think before she speaks.

She already has looked into

her past

to learn from her mistakes

but her identity was erased

her intellect deleted without a

trace

she can’t even taste the

fabrication of a personality

that comes out when she speaks

cuz she was raised to bite her

tongue til it bleeds.

Her body, a false reality’s copy.

Society courses through her

veins slits her wrist

and it becomes colored with

judgment

as it touches the air,

air she no longer has the desire

to breath.

She’s been drowning on her

own tears

becoming her own fears

trapped in a box nihilistic and

numb

her own personal paradox

she feels nothing yet

everything!

She began to find comfort

in the sound track to the horror

film in her mind,

hits rewind just to find the

monster

that burdens her

psychologically

trapped in her mind

and instead of hearing the

racket of old memories she

outta see,

she’s ripping straight jackets

off her thoughts that are soon

to be,

while her friends sip Hennessy

she’s drunk of disorders two

shots depression

and a whole bottle of anxiety.

Her chest is tightening her ears

are ringing

cold chills running down her

spin

like her demons are fleeing the

scene of their crime.

Dizzy.

Can’t think can’t breathe don’t

try to touch her

or she’ll scream “get off of

me!”

as her head bangs with the

cacophony

her guardian angel doesn’t

even see

doesn’t know what she needs

neither does she

doesn’t know why she’s not

sure

she wants her heart to continue

beating.

What happened?

Why’d she walk to the river,

stand on the bridge

What happened?

Why’d she send her goodbyes,

pop those pills so she’ll die?

WHAT HAPPENED?

What happened?!

They’ll all look to the sky

What happen?

As the ambulance arrives

What happened?

She’ll hear them all cry WHAT

HAPPENED !?

She crumpled.

on July 20, 2017 being alive

was just too much for her.

 

 

 

Sophisticated Lady

by Royal St. Clair

Softly as a summer morning

sunrise

Your face reflects the warm

rays of RA.

Smiling eyes

Warm my inner being

Arousing beautiful memories

Of The WAY in Afrika.

Dimples that smile

Like the length of the fertile Nile,

A regal neck with rings of beauty

Sounding the arrival of a worldly-wise

woman

Afrikan body so feminine

Queenly wrapped in a royal Kente gown

As you nonchalantly stroll

Leaving footprints of

diamonds,

Rubies and sapphires

on Holy ground.

I feel-Hear poly-rhythms

Vibrating from the strings of

your heart

Calling me to the WAY

On your birthday.

 

Dear Racist… (take a walk in my shoes)

Laura Jackson Jr.

Dear racist…

I need for you to know

That I hate that you exist

And as I express my feelings toward you

understand, this isn’t a death wish

While I appreciate your transparency

and that you choose to speak your mind

I can’t comprehend why you believe

That your race is superior to mine

Although I’ve come to accept

that we weren’t raised the same

despite your visible ignorance,

My values will remain.

You can call me what you want

& hate the color of my skin.

But you can’t suppress my pride

or the love I have within

So far, I’m sure I’ve said some things

that you may not comprehend

and it’s not my intention to be

condescending or to purposely offend

I’ll always show respect to those who respect me.

It doesn’t matter more or less

if they’re white, black, blue or green

I’m curious to know if it ever crossed your mind

what you would do or how you’d feel

if your race was left behind?

What if because the color of my skin

I believed I had more authority?

What if you were forced to follow my lead?

What if you were the minority?

What if there were no such thing as

“white privilege”

Instead there was “black immunity”

Would this cause a feeling of rage

or separation in your community?

What if only people of color were

chosen to receive blessings?

Would this incite a big debate

Of why you don’t deserve to be given less?

What if February was the only month

That you could celebrate your beliefs?

Do you think you’d feel somewhat cheated?

Or, be overcome with grief?

What if your children were only taught

the history of my culture?

Would you allow this to be all they learn?

Or, try to educate them further?

What if one day you awoke to a world

composed of black everything?

How would this effect your life?

What would your quality of life even be?

See, I often daydream.

I close my eyes and I see

Black sand on black beach

in a black park with black swings.

Black birds flying high in the sky

with black wings.

Black Queens holding hands with

Black Kings who are proud.

Black businesses, with signs hanging

that read “every race allowed!”

Black schools that teaches the importance

of black financial growth

With black teachers, teaching black history

that every child should know.

There was black rain, black wind,

black hail and black snow.

With two financial brackets,

black rich & black poor

There were two levels of success

Black less and black more.

and the only place everyone shopped

were black owned businesses & stores.

There were two directions

in which we could go,

black lefts and black rights.

There were black hours, black minutes

and black seconds with black days

and black nights.

There was an abundance of black love

which of course brought about

black families, & fights.

But here, we lived in a black America,

with a black congress, in a black house

with black rights.

Although this was just a dream, one day

It may become reality.

Where we’ll all be able to live together,

with peace, love and unity.

These are my thoughts

each time I encounter you

And it’s not to cause further divide

but to imagine you in my shoes

“When you change the way you look at things,

the things you look at will change.”

We’re all created equal a

nd we all should be treated the same.

If one day you could open your eyes

Perhaps you’ll be able to see

that one day we could rise to the top

and live the true meaning of our creed

See, like Martin Luther king,

I too have a dream.

That one day we’ll be able to live

with equality & unity!

 

 

 

 

The Revolution

By Cynthia Chinn-Harbin

The revolution is here

but our young African Kings

lie in Babylons’ cold streets

The revolution is here

but our young mothers’ lives

are wasted on vanities of the

flesh

The revolution is here

but folks from distant lands

benefit

from the rights and privileges

our ancestors died for

Can we feel the tide?

Can we hear the bell that tolls?

Can we face another day

of scuffling and grinding

to make the lives of others

better than our own?

We used to chant,

“When the revolution comes”*

“When the revolution comes”

When the revolution comes?

The Revolution is here.

(revised 2018)

*When the Revolution Comes,

The Last Poets

 

The Struggle Is Real

By Evan Locke

You have a special assignment

my teacher said

It’s to write a poem straight

from your head

The topic can be anything that

you choose

Like family, tv or what’s on the

news.

I was biting my nails thinking

about what to write

While eating my dinner and

drinking a Sprite

Why was I having such a hard

time

It shouldn’t be this hard to

make words rhyme.

I need to hurry and get this out

of the way

So I can go beat my brother in

a game of NBA 2K

I’m losing my mind and I just

can’t deal

All I know is the struggle is

real.

That’s it I’m going to bed

I’m sad but I won’t show it

Oh wait…

I am a poet!

(Evan, a 7th Grader, is the

grandson of Lonnie B. Harrell)

 

 

 

 

Circles

By Emci Kyng

Get a job and get an education

Circles.

Don’t become another statistic

In this nation.

Circles.

Work Hard For less than what you’re

Worth and you will see elevation.

Circles.

Life as a black male has you going

in circles

No matter how much you progress

Or how clean that you dress

You still End up at the same damn point.

It seems pointless,

How they pretend like they help

but instead point you around the diameter

Knowing that it’s pointless

Like those broken number 2 pencils.

Knowing that when you are pointless

you are useless

Like your old number 2 pencil.

Knowing that when you are useless

You stay in the box

Like a cracked number 2 pencil

Knowing that they guide your life

Like a pen in a stencil.

Try to hold your future

Like a witch holds a crystal.

I think the Truth is crystal clear,

Because we see year upon year

That speeches are given

Saying that change is near.

They raise your wage

You grin from ear to ear.

Mission accomplished

False hope is in the atmosphere.

We are running from something

towards some nothing

Got us going in spheres

Or circles.

They made up something called a l

iving wage

But there’s no price on life,

So if they give you more money

They plan on upping the price.

The system raises your wage a dollar

Then raises the gas price two

We aren’t designed to win

Can you see what capital do?

Circles

They tell go to school,

And get a degree,

But its a trap because if you pay

10,000 For tuition

You’ll come out owing that times three.

Circles.

You want to own you a home?

U got to get you a loan

If you ain’t got credit

The bank says you on your own.

But I’m pushing past principles

That were placed upon my plate.

Using my words to welcome wisdom

that’ll make you great.

Combing through the lies,

Flat ironing the truth

Exposing this system’s scalp

And molding minds of the youth.

I’m over this hocus pocus

Our people we need focus

The government’s getting richer

From burdens placed on our shoulders

Really we are worth more

because WE did the work

WE moved the boulders.

So now I’m going to

Rip the head off this beast,

Tear the neck off his shoulders

Stab its heart while it sleeps

Throw its body to vultures

Send sniper shots towards this creep.

I’m not trying to sound vulgar.

Because we are stuck in these circles

The struggle is universal

Everyone deserves a chance

to spread their wings,

Because we are all

from this earth bro

 

The Man I Used To Know

Micaela Apellaniz

I want my papi and i’m not

talking about

The man I know today.

I’m talking about the man i

knew

when i was innocent.

When i didnt know what

adultry meant.

The man who i could lay on

and he never let go

…my superman. I try so hard to

find him.

It’s like he vanished like a

bathbomb.

He didn’t leave in silence. He

left with a sizzle.

Maybe when the water drains

some him will still remain.

And i can try and build another

one.

A better one ,and this time ill

make sure

he’s taught how to love.

My papi, sperm donor. Proper

term.

He who helped bring me here.

The man who my mother

let put a ring on her finger,

the promise of for better or for

worse,

you left in the worst way.

Once upon a time i was his

princess.

i lived in a big castle built in

his heart

just for me.

It seems like as time came i

was evicted.

Only i didn’t get the notice.

Didn’t see the sign on the entry

door

saying love don’ t live here

anymore.

 

 

 

 

When You Thought I Wasn’t Looking…

By Sanaa Jones (Age 12)

When you thought

I wasn’t looking

You cleaned up

after my brother and I

And I felt loved.

When you thought

I wasn’t looking

You did my laundry and

Organized my clothes

And I felt very special.

When you thought

I wasn’t looking

You put clothes on our backs

And shoes on our feet

And I was very grateful.

When you thought

I wasn’t looking

You put food on the table

no matter what

And I felt very thankful.

When you thought

I wasn’t looking

You put money in my savings

And I felt lucky.

When you thought

I wasn’t looking

You listened

to what I had to say

And I felt important.

When you thought

I wasn’t looking

You comforted me

when I was feeling sad

And I felt loved

When you thought

I wasn’t looking

You always kept it “real”

and told me the truth

And I felt very trusted.

When you thought

I wasn’t looking

I looked

And I wanted to say

thanks mom

And ‘gamma’

for all those things you did

for my brother and I

When you thought

I wasn’t looking…