ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes


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I'm not that far from Texas yet there's nothing but New Orleans,

even if I must cross streets water rushing above my ankles

clothes hanging heavy ever drawn to terra firma, spirit pulled

ever down. A million desires satiated in a Riverwalk, a monument

of Morial's leadership in creating a modern-day Gomorrah. And it is

still and always New Orleans—food, music, dance, songs of adventure.



Ode to a Magic City

By Rudolph Lewis



Crossing Lake Pontchatrain, dark as a turbulent sea, the Crescent rushes in a rainstorm to the city, to New Orleans, Big Easy, to my soul's longing. I hear the choo-choo music of the wheels shaking and rocking, bringing it all home.

At the station, I'm in her monster red truck, we head downtown to Bywater, she at the wheel, her angelic face older than I remember, always and ever a mother, embracing you and chiding you in one breath. Shaking fences, locking doors. And you can't help from loving her, if you any man at all. She's Beauty and Truth.

Up St. Claude to Poland, it's as yesterday this sameness as if nothing ever changes what was and will always be. Houses clapboard, wood primeval as Peter and the heavy rock of despair. Exteriors are illusions, mirrors. It's a genie's world inside a New Orleans house, smells that draw you into mystery and enchantment. It shatters one-dimensional being into so many atoms of mercurial wonder.


An African storyteller with numerical tables from cargo logs of ships flying the flags of France and Spain and Caribbean Creoles, of murder and greed and hatred and love of black babies and African mothers: a dedication and a reminder to the blind and deaf of what humanity is to humanity. An ancient Gwen at Dante and Plum with banana trees by her porch. Happy Birthday! You space age griot! May you live a thousand more!

I'm not that far from Texas yet there's nothing but New Orleans, even if I must cross streets water rushing above my ankles clothes hanging heavy ever drawn to terra firma, spirit pulled ever down. A million desires satiated in a Riverwalk, a monument of Morial's leadership in creating a modern-day Gomorrah. And it is still and always New Orleans—food, music, dance, songs of adventure. A place of romance you want to be. Cry New Orleans! Cry zillions of tears for the dead that still walk these cobbled streets, drenched souls that won't let you alone, haunting ever all who take root.


New Orleans is an elephant drumming in the Congo Basin. Every ear can't hear what's happening. A city with a message that keeps on coming, keeps on drumming, drumming. Marching to cemeteries in the mind.

New Orleans at the millennium, dying in the poems of Brenda Marie Osbey, the complaint languishes like a lullaby, an antebellum song, a beautiful table of promise that leaves you wet, wondering why not more. I love New Orleans in all its Beauty and Truth, like a poet named Yusef from Bogalusa.


What are wireless networks but zombies, painted white death of tribal lore. It always comes back to the word, to who is master of the dead. Rise! Black Man! Black Woman! Dream! In Big Mama, Big Daddy's House of Magic, the dice rolls, no need for care. Can't you hear the drumming, sweet palm sway of the elephant drum. Steady! Druuum, druum! Steadily, on and on! That's New Orleans all night, all day, pleasing all who embrace her, a healing touch that makes the dead live again. She tosses pearls before the unloving, the uncaring, those who ain't got no place to go.

Rock me baby! Rockuh me all night long! I said rock me baby! Rockuh me all night long!  Help me baby! Rockuh me! Roll me all night long!  I say baby dontcha do me wrong!


New Orleans is a lover like a driver in a brand new automobile who breaks your heart, opens your hood, and fumbles around with your wires. I talk to my lover at the river's bend. Always turning away from that fatal loss. That moment she walked away. We lunch at Madeleine's. Thirteen years of silence and this moment, smoked turkey breast, spinach quiche, and coffee. We talk of Bob Kaufman and Marcus Christian. Of dissertations and publishing books, of poetry and of the heartbreak of poverty. With books and food, we never speak of love. . . . No never love . . .

There's always the drumming, the silent drumming. Harsh memories and old hurts beneath hearing. Oh the blues! The blues! The blues of New Orleans! The milk and blood of this Creole woman. I love you New Orleans. I am gonna love you, love you till I die!

For New Orleans is Nommo, seat of eternal fires, in a hollow just beyond Congo Square. New Orleans is song beyond her hurt and pain. New Orleans is celebration, costume, and ritual. New Orleans is a woman you love but can never possess.

Viva New Orleans! Vive Nommo! Long Live the Magic City!


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Didn't He Ramble   Buddy Bolden in New Orleans   Buddy Bolden Short Story

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Members of Bolden's band included: William Warner or Frank Lewis (clarinet);  Willy Cornish (piston trombone); Brock Mumford (guitar); James Johnson (bass); and Cornelius Tillman or McMurray (drums).

Buddy Bolden Band. Charles "Buddy" Bolden, 2nd from left in rear


Buddy Bolden Story with Wynton Marsalis / Jelly Roll Morton—Buddy Bolden's Blues

Jelly Roll Morton playing and singing his composition of "Buddy Bolden's Blues"

Buddy Bolden’s Blues

                      Lyrics by Jelly Roll Morton.

I thought I heard Buddy Bolden say
You nasty, you dirtytake it away
You terrible, you awfultake it away
I thought I heard him say

I thought I heard Buddy Bolden shout
Open up that window and let that bad air out
Open up that window, and let the foul air out
I thought I heard Buddy Bolden say

I thought I heard Judge Fogarty say

Thirty days in the markettake him away

Get him a good broom to sweep withtake him away

I thought I heard him say


I thought I heard Frankie Dusen shout

Gal, give me that moneyI’m gonna beat it out

I mean give me that money, like I explain you, or I’m gonna beat it out

I thought I heard Frankie Dusen say

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*   *   *   *   *'s 25 Best Selling Books



#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 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


#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

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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.

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Sex at the Margins

Migration, Labour Markets and the Rescue Industry

By Laura María Agustín

This book explodes several myths: that selling sex is completely different from any other kind of work, that migrants who sell sex are passive victims and that the multitude of people out to save them are without self-interest. Laura Agustín makes a passionate case against these stereotypes, arguing that the label 'trafficked' does not accurately describe migrants' lives and that the 'rescue industry' serves to disempower them. Based on extensive research amongst both migrants who sell sex and social helpers, Sex at the Margins provides a radically different analysis. Frequently, says Agustin, migrants make rational choices to travel and work in the sex industry, and although they are treated like a marginalised group they form part of the dynamic global economy.

Both powerful and controversial, this book is essential reading for all those who want to understand the increasingly important relationship between sex markets, migration and the desire for social justice. "Sex at the Margins rips apart distinctions between migrants, service work and sexual labour and reveals the utter complexity of the contemporary sex industry. This book is set to be a trailblazer in the study of sexuality."Lisa Adkins, University of London

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Incognegro: A Memoir of Exile and Apartheid

By  Frank B. Wilderson III

Wilderson, a professor, writer and filmmaker from the Midwest, presents a gripping account of his role in the downfall of South African apartheid as one of only two black Americans in the African National Congress (ANC). After marrying a South African law student, Wilderson reluctantly returns with her to South Africa in the early 1990s, where he teaches Johannesburg and Soweto students, and soon joins the military wing of the ANC. Wilderson's stinging portrait of Nelson Mandela as a petulant elder eager to accommodate his white countrymen will jolt readers who've accepted the reverential treatment usually accorded him. After the assassination of Mandela's rival, South African Communist Party leader Chris Hani, Mandela's regime deems Wilderson's public questions a threat to national security; soon, having lost his stomach for the cause, he returns to America.

Wilderson has a distinct, powerful voice and a strong story that shuffles between the indignities of Johannesburg life and his early years in Minneapolis, the precocious child of academics who barely tolerate his emerging political consciousness. Wilderson's observations about love within and across the color line and cultural divides are as provocative as his politics; despite some distracting digressions, this is a riveting memoir of apartheid's last days.Publishers Weekly

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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)

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Ancient African Nations

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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

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

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

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update 3 October 2012




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Related Files:    Didn't He Ramble   Buddy Bolden in New Orleans   Buddy Bolden Short Story  Ode to a Magic City    buddy bolden's blues legacy 

Satchmo Ain't Going Back No More   What To Do With The Negroes?   Satchmo: My Life in New Orleans  Evtushenko in Satchmo's New Orleans   

Babii Yar  Lit a la Russe  Armstrong's Trumpet