'We Have Been Curled Too Long'

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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.
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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.

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