'We Have Been Curled Too Long'

malcom.large1.jpg

When I started blogging about Malcolm and re-reading the Autobio, my recollection was that most of the poetry about him was pretty dreadful. In general, I'm against didacticism and overly political points. But again, some of this stuff is just beautiful. Here's a piece by Sonia Sanchez that I used to love in college. You can see her recite it, without the blue language, here. Like Larry Neal, Sanchez is right out of the Black Arts Movement.

Malcolm

do not speak to me of martyrdom, 
of men who die to be remembered 
on some parish day. 
i don't believe in dying
though, I too shall die. 
and violets like castanets 
will echo me. 

yet this man, 
this dreamer, 
thick lipped with words 
will never speak again 
and in each winter 
when the cold air cracks 
with frost I'll breathe 
his breath and mourn 
my gunfilled nights. 
he was the sun that tagged 
the western sky and 
melted tiger-scholars 
while they searched for stripes.
he said, "fuck you, white 
man. we have been 
curled too long. nothing 
is sacred, not your 
white face nor any 
land that separates 
until some voices
squat with spasms." 

do not speak to me of living. 
life is obscene with crowds 
of white on black. 
death is my pulse. 
what might have been
is not for him/or me 
but what could have been 
floods the womb until I drown.

"And violets like castanets\will echo me." Just lovely.
Presented by

Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle.

Before Tinder, a Tree

Looking for your soulmate? Write a letter to the "Bridegroom's Oak" in Germany.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Before Tinder, a Tree

Looking for your soulmate? Write a letter to the "Bridegroom's Oak" in Germany.

Video

The Health Benefits of Going Outside

People spend too much time indoors. One solution: ecotherapy.

Video

Where High Tech Meets the 1950s

Why did Green Bank, West Virginia, ban wireless signals? For science.

Video

Yes, Quidditch Is Real

How J.K. Rowling's magical sport spread from Hogwarts to college campuses

Video

Would You Live in a Treehouse?

A treehouse can be an ideal office space, vacation rental, and way of reconnecting with your youth.

More in Entertainment

From This Author

Just In