'We Have Been Curled Too Long'

More
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.
Jump to comments
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. More

Born in 1975, the product of two beautiful parents. Raised in West Baltimore -- not quite The Wire, but sometimes ill all the same. Studied at the Mecca for some years in the mid-'90s. Emerged with a purpose, if not a degree. Slowly migrated up the East Coast with a baby and my beloved, until I reached the shores of Harlem. Wrote some stuff along the way.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

Sad Desk Lunch: Is This How You Want to Die?

How to avoid working through lunch, and diseases related to social isolation.


Elsewhere on the web

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

Where Time Comes From

The clocks that coordinate your cellphone, GPS, and more

Video

Computer Vision Syndrome and You

Save your eyes. Take breaks.

Video

What Happens in 60 Seconds

Quantifying human activity around the world

Writers

Up
Down

More in Entertainment

From This Author

Just In