Issue 2 : Spring 2011

About Author:

  • Jacqueline Johnson

    Jacqueline Johnson is a mutli-disciplined artist in both writing and fiber arts. She is the author of A Gathering of Mother Tongues published by White Pine Press and is the winner of the Third Annual White Pine Press Poetry Award. She is also...

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A Woman’s Season

 

(an excerpt)

African Angel Goddess

No ethereal illuminations for her.

She was always earthbound,

attracted to nightlife, music,

places where folks were

dancing so hard,

bodies rain sweat.

 

African angel mother of humanity,

Lucy definitely isn’t her name.

See her wearing silver,

kicking ass, alligator boots.

Get right in my face shouting,

"girl, get the hell up!"

 

She wears her halo glinting

across her delta wide forehead.

The harp and horn thing she left

in heaven, but she'll walk you

through any adversity knowing

all pathways in and out of hell.

 

She can visit wearing many disguises,

rags so dense

only the gold of her face is visible.

She speaks Mandarin,

Bantu, and Twi, same

sweet mother tongue to her.

 

Will meet you at the river Styx,

bored with crossing over

in that riggedy ass boat.

Might even give you a second chance,

cause its rebirth

and life that interests her.

 

She's in the smoke where

women gather bearing arms,

refusing to be raped, murdered

and refugeed from their homes.

Women of war in Liberia,

Rwanda, Sierre Leone.

 

Women in Abuja,

Capetown, Harlem, Arusha.

New women everywhere,

gather to give birth to

a future we can inhabit.

 

Sene-Gambia Blues Triolets

1.

The Crossing

On river Gambia slate and turtleback green,

men and women stand fifty strong in pirogues.

Big bags, mothers and children all lean,

on river Gambia slate and turtleback green.

Each wave is a prayer sung to the shoreline.

No room to sit, they are one communal breath.

On river Gambia slate and turtleback green,

men and women stand fifty strong in pirogues.

 

2.

Kaolack Crossroads

Bush taxi, goats, medallion cabs all tread

same dusty road in downtown Kaolack.

Islamic holy men wearing talismans and dreads.

Bush taxi, goats, medallion cabs all tread

this street where Senghor still lives.

Street children selling milk and old compacts.

Bush taxi, goats, medallion cabs all tread

same dusty road in downtown Kaolack.

 

3.

Catholic Church- Goree Island

We stand in clusters, tourists among sacred few.

Black saints and angels watching over us.

Priests prayed over slavers in African pews.

We stand in clusters, tourists among sacred few.

Our prayers almost pagan desiring the new.

Light no candles, claim no victory. Songless.

We stand in clusters, tourists among sacred few.

Black saints and angels watching over us.

 

The Return

naked tree branches

spray of fifty bullets

a groom returns home

without breath,

without wife

 

another marvels

eleven extra holes

in his body

revealing a light

no man should ever know

 

Deluge

They arrive eyes wide

bewildered

hosts of many hungers,

in groups or alone.

Children,

elders,

teenagers

asking what happened?

Are they dead?

 

They arrive in a deluge of water;

coffins sitting on front lawns,

crests of spontaneous lakes.

Newly dead bereft of kin and clan.

Bodhisattva and angels alike

hasten to this quickening.

 

Rescue Mission

Utterer, how does your brilliance shine

on an ocean of cowries?

Truth splitting your lips forcing you

to be more than was longed for,

through a funnel into a life,

where once again you are blind, deaf, new.

 

Wall eyed, husky woman how do I

rescue you from the Empire’s specter,

where we are a darker nation;

bound and mutant still.

Desperate you seek out

any black facts.

So hungry calling ourselves okute, osun, orumilla,

as if we are the gods ourselves.

We got it so backwards, so mixed up

juju doesn’t even know itself.

Where is scythe of humility

we knew so well?

 

Chant a litany for all who suffered,

un-natural, premature deaths.

Black nationalist seeking source.

To be useful? Serving? Good?

 

Met you a thousand times,

in many forms.

What if your eyes were centered,

obsidian, leading us to ourselves.

What if your fatness was not the point

or the edge used against you.

Your body as freedom –

map to new and different world.

 

Green Symphony

I am the water’s daughter

longing to know her hidden ways.

Always curious I swim uncharted waters.

Ancient mirror reflects my truth.

 

Thin bands of God’s green, dried leaves

mixed with loam of several generations.

Wild fields of corn, white sage and lavender.

A flock of blue jays, arcs of bird wing.

 

Angels in the midst, incessant

cacophony more urban each second.

Silence then sound of the open road.

All around bivouacs, tributaries

 

a wild, rushing thing. For miles

green symphony fills my eyes.

Yet the water rules here,

her muddy residue coats my feet.

 

Unpredictable mingling of wind and water

Her rhythm slow, rippling silver, mischievous.

At the water’s edge I hesitate almost fearful.

In up to my shoulders, hair glistening.

 

I am the water’s daughter unable to deny

pull of ivory half moons, seasons; to resist

music and currents of waves centuries old.

Her unruly, imperfect, many sided child.

 

Here I know exactly who I am,

fecund, stubborn and always in trouble.

Out of bounds at last,

I kick into the deep brown waters.

 

Bruised Fruit

We are tossed aside bruised fruit,

bitter, angry flowers of a generation of men.

Blackened banana, brown exposed apple core.

Who would not know us or our beauty?

 

Flowers of a generation of men.

Scream of a million sway-back brown women.

Who would not know us or our beauty?

Desires chastened by abysmal hunger.

 

Scream of a million sway-back brown women.

Daughters of moonlight carry love's calabash.

Desires chastened by abysmal hunger.

Life pulses in us like the knowing in Sula’s eye.

 

Daughters of moonlight carry love's calabash.

Some settle for being second and third wives.

Yet life pulses in us like the knowing in Sula's eye.

What love can quench a drought four centuries long?

 

Some settle for being second and third wives.

Daughters, sisters, keepers of moonlight.

What love can quench a drought four centuries long?

Wise women, gather from Palmeres to Charleston.

 

Daughters, sisters, owners of moonlight.

Seeds our men sow in other villages undo us.

Wise women, gather from Palmeres to Charleston.

Forgotten, yet open fields of our future billow.

 

Seeds our men sow in other tribes undo us.

We who own power of plums beckon.

Forgotten, yet open fields of our future billow.

Sounds of getupandkkeepthis planet together women.

 

We who own power of plums beckon.

Blackened banana, brown exposed apple core.

Sounds of getupandkkeepthis planet together women.

Some say we are tossed aside bruised fruit.

 

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