ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes

   

Home   ChickenBones Store (Books, DVDs, Music, and more)   

Google
 

 

 

 Last I saw you, you / were in bed, hiccupping, helpless but

for your prayer to a listening God I / had forgot. Did you hear him in the

beat of a heart you wished silent?

 

 

 

My Father Still Comes to Me

By Rudolph Lewis

 

I was not with you in the house

you built, in the room I used to

sleep in by the wood heater on

cold nights. I was away in the city

the January you passed over into

dream land. Your wife Ella &

Ann your daughter cared for you

in that long illness after the doctor

took away your enlarged testicles

 

I’ve watched no man die but in

the movies or on tv. I knew you

best when you were the age I am

now. I didn’t know you had only

seven more years to live—your skin

warm brown, you were intense &

distant, always. Last I saw you, you

were in bed, hiccupping, helpless but

for your prayer to a listening God I

had forgot. Did you hear him in the

beat of a heart you wished silent?

 

That was thirty-six years ago. Ella

will be 95 this August. I visited her

a week ago at the house you built. She

was in bed when I arrived early in the

morning. I surprised her. I called her

when I got back to the city. She said

she had dreamed about me and asked

was that the reason I called. Maybe it

was. I didn’t tell her I just dreamed

about you while sitting up. I forget in

those moments when you come to me

you went away before I really got to

know you—a  stranger for twenty years

 

Our dreams are mirrors when we are

filled up with the empty space of our

lives. You took me in your arms, the

room began to spin. I was afraid we

would fall. I woke up, you went away

8 March 2006

*   *   *   *   *

Hi Rudy, That was a beautiful poem. Just beautiful. I'm so sorry you didn't know him better. The more we learn about our parents the more we understand about ourselves. There are some genes that seem to have no explanation...as I ask myself, 'why am I the oddball of my family, cousins, aunts and uncles!' They're all rich and educated! HA!

Some fathers can't express in words how they feel about you if they live to be 100. But I wonder how you got your prolific writing talent and the immense and deep social concern? The emotions have to be in YOU in order to drive you to it and keep you there. Otherwise, you might have been a football player, perhaps. Could have been a grandparent, too? But, you know, it might have been all from your Mother. In any case, I believe you're a very Special Man.Anita

Uncle Rudy, Love the poem.  Thanks for sharing.  On the occasion of my father’s 55th birthday today, your words were especially poignant to me. Thank you!Monica

A very Powerful poem as usual from your prolific pen . Very sad  but  also a provocative goodbye  to a good friend. It moved me and got me to say at the end to your friend some words of loving  and final goodbye we use in Ghana for such departures, "Damrifa Due," which could me the subtitle to your poem. Again thank you and as soon as I get the poetry on missing home in the Diaspora I will send them to you.Rev Addo

What a compelling poem.  It also speaks to the reality of black males. It's is sad, but not a tear-jerker.Dorothy

I am often impatient when it comes to poems. I have to admit, as a poet buried by choice now in a non-fiction world of expression, that I am often more interested in others listening to my poetry than reading theirs. Reading your poem this morning in my cubicle was a welcome respite and I was humbled by your ability to say exactly what needed to be said with the perfect economy of words. But the most subtle yet salient aspect of the poem was its sensitivity which is too often absent from work about men of color and their fathers. It read like a healing poem that I hope you use to "minister" and "fellowship" with your Brothers.Andrea 

Rudy, Thanks for sharing this. I like the intimacy established by addressing the father directly. My favorite line is "Did you hear him in the beat of a heart you wished silent?"Jeannette

posted 31 March 2006

 

*   *   *   *   *

AALBC.com's 25 Best Selling Books


 

Fiction

#1 - Justify My Thug by Wahida Clark
#2 - Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree
#3 - Head Bangers: An APF Sexcapade by Zane
#4 - Life Is Short But Wide by J. California Cooper
#5 - Stackin' Paper 2 Genesis' Payback by Joy King
#6 - Thug Lovin' (Thug 4) by Wahida Clark
#7 - When I Get Where I'm Going by Cheryl Robinson
#8 - Casting the First Stone by Kimberla Lawson Roby
#9 - The Sex Chronicles: Shattering the Myth by Zane

#10 - Covenant: A Thriller  by Brandon Massey

#11 - Diary Of A Street Diva  by Ashley and JaQuavis

#12 - Don't Ever Tell  by Brandon Massey

#13 - For colored girls who have considered suicide  by Ntozake Shange

#14 - For the Love of Money : A Novel by Omar Tyree

#15 - Homemade Loves  by J. California Cooper

#16 - The Future Has a Past: Stories by J. California Cooper

#17 - Player Haters by Carl Weber

#18 - Purple Panties: An Eroticanoir.com Anthology by Sidney Molare

#19 - Stackin' Paper by Joy King

#20 - Children of the Street: An Inspector Darko Dawson Mystery by Kwei Quartey

#21 - The Upper Room by Mary Monroe

#22 – Thug Matrimony  by Wahida Clark

#23 - Thugs And The Women Who Love Them by Wahida Clark

#24 - Married Men by Carl Weber

#25 - I Dreamt I Was in Heaven - The Rampage of the Rufus Buck Gang by Leonce Gaiter

Non-fiction

#1 - Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable
#2 - Confessions of a Video Vixen by Karrine Steffans
#3 - Dear G-Spot: Straight Talk About Sex and Love by Zane
#4 - Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny by Hill Harper
#5 - Peace from Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What You're Going Through by Iyanla Vanzant
#6 - Selected Writings and Speeches of Marcus Garvey by Marcus Garvey
#7 - The Ebony Cookbook: A Date with a Dish by Freda DeKnight
#8 - The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing
#9 - The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter Godwin Woodson

#10 - John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History  by Ahati N. N. Toure

#11 - Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure by Tavis Smiley

#12 -The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

#13 - The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell

#14 - The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore

#15 - Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can't Commit  by RM Johnson

#16 - Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins

#17 - Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell

#18 - A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose by Eckhart Tolle

#19 - John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard

#20 - Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris

#21 - Age Ain't Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife by Carleen Brice

#22 - 2012 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino
#23 - Chicken Soup for the Prisoner's Soul by Tom Lagana
#24 - 101 Things Every Boy/Young Man of Color Should Know by LaMarr Darnell Shields

#25 - Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class  by Lisa B. Thompson

 

*   *   *   *   *

Salvage the Bones

A Novel by Jesmyn Ward

On one level, Salvage the Bones is a simple story about a poor black family that’s about to be trashed by one of the most deadly hurricanes in U.S. history. What makes the novel so powerful, though, is the way Ward winds private passions with that menace gathering force out in the Gulf of Mexico. Without a hint of pretension, in the simple lives of these poor people living among chickens and abandoned cars, she evokes the tenacious love and desperation of classical tragedy. The force that pushes back against Katrina’s inexorable winds is the voice of Ward’s narrator, a 14-year-old girl named Esch, the only daughter among four siblings. Precocious, passionate and sensitive, she speaks almost entirely in phrases soaked in her family’s raw land. Everything here is gritty, loamy and alive, as though the very soil were animated. Her brother’s “blood smells like wet hot earth after summer rain. . . . His scalp looks like fresh turned dirt.” Her father’s hands “are like gravel,” while her own hand “slides through his grip like a wet fish,” and a handsome boy’s “muscles jabbered like chickens.” Admittedly, Ward can push so hard on this simile-obsessed style that her paragraphs risk sounding like a compost heap, but this isn’t usually just metaphor for metaphor’s sake. She conveys something fundamental about Esch’s fluid state of mind: her figurative sense of the world in which all things correspond and connect. She and her brothers live in a ramshackle house steeped in grief since their mother died giving birth to her last child. . . . What remains, what’s salvaged, is something indomitable in these tough siblings, the strength of their love, the permanence of their devotion.—WashingtonPost

*   *   *   *   *

Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America

By Melissa V. Harris-Perry

According to the author, this society has historically exerted considerable pressure on black females to fit into one of a handful of stereotypes, primarily, the Mammy, the Matriarch or the Jezebel.  The selfless Mammy’s behavior is marked by a slavish devotion to white folks’ domestic concerns, often at the expense of those of her own family’s needs. By contrast, the relatively-hedonistic Jezebel is a sexually-insatiable temptress. And the Matriarch is generally thought of as an emasculating figure who denigrates black men, ala the characters Sapphire and Aunt Esther on the television shows Amos and Andy and Sanford and Son, respectively.     

Professor Perry points out how the propagation of these harmful myths have served the mainstream culture well. For instance, the Mammy suggests that it is almost second nature for black females to feel a maternal instinct towards Caucasian babies.

As for the source of the Jezebel, black women had no control over their own bodies during slavery given that they were being auctioned off and bred to maximize profits. Nonetheless, it was in the interest of plantation owners to propagate the lie that sisters were sluts inclined to mate indiscriminately.

*   *   *   *   *

The Last Holiday: A Memoir

By Gil Scott Heron

Shortly after we republished The Vulture and The Nigger Factory, Gil started to tell me about The Last Holiday, an account he was writing of a multi-city tour that he ended up doing with Stevie Wonder in late 1980 and early 1981. Originally Bob Marley was meant to be playing the tour that Stevie Wonder had conceived as a way of trying to force legislation to make Martin Luther King's birthday a national holiday. At the time, Marley was dying of cancer, so Gil was asked to do the first six dates. He ended up doing all 41. And Dr King's birthday ended up becoming a national holiday ("The Last Holiday because America can't afford to have another national holiday"), but Gil always felt that Stevie never got the recognition he deserved and that his story needed to be told. The first chapters of this book were given to me in New York when Gil was living in the Chelsea Hotel. Among the pages was a chapter called Deadline that recounts the night they played Oakland, California, 8 December; it was also the night that John Lennon was murdered. Gil uses Lennon's violent end as a brilliant parallel to Dr King's assassination and as a biting commentary on the constraints that sometimes lead to newspapers getting things wrong. —Jamie Byng, Guardian / Gil_reads_"Deadline" (audio)  / Gil Scott-Heron & His Music  Gil Scott Heron Blue Collar  Remember Gil Scott- Heron

*   *   *   *   *

The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

*   *   *   *   *

Ancient African Nations

*   *   *   *   *

If you like this page consider making a donation

online through PayPal

*   *   *   *   *

Negro Digest / Black World

Browse all issues


1950        1960        1965        1970        1975        1980        1985        1990        1995        2000 ____ 2005        

Enjoy!

*   *   *   *   *

The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery / George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

*   *   *   *   *

The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of Haiti 

*   *   *   *   *

*   *   *   *   *

ChickenBones Store (Books, DVDs, Music, and more)   

 

 

 

 

 

update 24 April 2012

 

 

 

Home   Mosquitoes Fly Out My Head

Related File: Sisyphus Walks Downhill   Changes I Cannot Fathom