ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes


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i carry notes / not forgetting to save / those torn shreds / of tasks long accomplished

 to show me my progress / and tasks yet to be done / turn up on another list




The Sudan

                By Andrea Barnwell

Freedom is not an afterthought

Nor is it punctuated by a

Rare comma

Freedom is not dismissed

From vocabularies

Nor ignored

Where carnage and death

And destruction flow

Casually as if a mother’s

Child should always bleed

Away her life

Screaming horror

Crying why?


Freedom is not an afterthought

Nor is it punctuated by a

Rare comma

Freedom is not pushed aside

Like a fly swat

Crushed like a roach underfoot

Abhorred like a snake

Or a diseased rat



Freedom is a


Given in love

Through love


June 16, 2004

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January Again

       By Andrea Barnwell

Snow's melted from my heart

a new chill sweeps past

putting all else on hold til

sticks can be bent again

like green willow

til a flower can stand

up and stay without frost

and my eyes see smoke

not rising from my breath

but from summer sidewalks


Sliding, swaying with icy wind

a crow sits on the line

assessing time's wreckage:

just another january day

to recall or forget to remember

that we are no longer children

playing at life, but living it

like countless ancestors before the

first cold took toll for winter's folly

but spring's promise to warm

away the chips of below zero

chemistry put us on notice.

This strange poem in the cold southwest

of January's morn prattles on about what?

Note us: taking stock of the past

Looking toward the future when

time in this body will end

A new time will begin past

the pain, the toil, the tears,

the joy of life on earth and she

will Dis-Cover the secret that everyone knows:

This life is but the greatest and smallest

of deeds, honors, dreams Time leaves for

death - the portal we all must travel through

for the greatest and eternal spiritual life

awaiting us with God Jesus                                

 January 20, 1997

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To Myself: Lists

              By Andrea Barnwell

i write you notes

around silence

around children's noises

happy laughter

around the house

i write you notes-


in deadline timelines

in stress, in poverty


in loneliness, in hope

in toil, apprehension

of filing working shopping

things to do that

don't get done

or somehow

manage a half-task

reminders of the mundane


to wash, cook, shop, dry fold

and put away, sweep, mop, vacuum

call a million people

in promises to return

their needs

reminders to remember

to mend, sew, mail

to pray to sing to read

to write, to rest, to meditate


to do hair, nails, personal hygiene

to fulfill this appointment,

that job

i remember to forget

to buy what i can't afford

i scratch out what i discard

and remember to save

your notes - my lists

carry them around

wearing their edges out

in my purse

frey the fold lines

i carry notes

not forgetting to save

those torn shreds

of tasks long accomplished

to show me my progress

and tasks yet to be done

turn up on another list

of things to do

my husband

accuses me of placing

my personal needs

with him on that level

organizing our bedroom


so listing i remember

to overlook his insinuations

that this listing is evil

evil work this listing

of things to do

as i write to you

around backyard birds

chirping and

moffit field planes

buzzing and

lowrider cars pounding

whizzing bumping through

the silence of another day

gone by

another accomplishment

another time honored

honing of

taking out trash

mowing the lawn

watering fertilizing

planting the garden

fighting the pests

washing the car

grooming the dog

with the urge to do nothing

to want everything


to organize others

and obey

this incessant needling

to work

to create

to dream

to help

to care

to remember

to write

another list                                                       

 written in 1981

*   *   *   *   *


Rain Poem

              By Andrea Barnwell


Spilling all over



Not purging

The gutter swirls

Green bile

Our grass

Grows long

Trees get

Strong while

Rain sheets

Pour down

Our street






Makes things

Grow all over


Swell urging


Stoops at the


Opens the

Porch planks


Washes the

Stench while

Wet earth

Smells Something

Something like



August 12, 2003

Andrea Barnwell sometimes writes under the name of Abena; acquired when studying at the University of Ghana, West Africa.  She resides in Syracuse, New York as Associate Director for the Community Wide Dialogue to End Racism, a successful project of the Inter-Religious Council of Central New York.  Prior to this, she worked for faith communities coordinating Juvenile Gun Violence prevention programs with pastors and social workers on the South and near South West sides of Syracuse New York. She also consults to grant write, coach, and facilitate community development with neighborhood action groups for issue-based economic equity.

At the San Diego Urban League, she managed HIV preventive and direct social services for 13 years. While in California, she facilitated support groups for women infected and impacted by HIV/AIDS, male sober living groups, and sat on various community and county boards.   The programs targeted people of color and diverse populations such as high-risk youth, recovering and active drug addicts, men who have sex with men, prostitutes, East African immigrants, and church leaders. She was educated at the University of California, Berkeley, UC San Diego, and has taken classes at Stanford University and UCLA.  She is an education “junkie” but not an intellectual snob.

Her publications range professionally from editing and publishing two volumes of journal writings, news articles on HIV awareness, to personal poetry and short stories.  She is proud to be the mother of three grown children, and a great grandmother. Andrea Barnwell states that her most fulfilling occupation was that of rearing three children who are the source of her joy for life. She explains,  “They are my three angels who manage to keep me youthful and honest.”

posted 14 October 2006

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Go, Tell Michelle
African American Women Write to the New First Lady

Edited Barbara A. Seals Nevergold and Peggy Brooks-Bertram

*   *   *   *   *'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

*   *   *   *   *

The New Jim Crow

Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness

By Michele Alexander

Contrary to the rosy picture of race embodied in Barack Obama's political success and Oprah Winfrey's financial success, legal scholar Alexander argues vigorously and persuasively that [w]e have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it. Jim Crow and legal racial segregation has been replaced by mass incarceration as a system of social control (More African Americans are under correctional control today... than were enslaved in 1850). Alexander reviews American racial history from the colonies to the Clinton administration, delineating its transformation into the war on drugs. She offers an acute analysis of the effect of this mass incarceration upon former inmates who will be discriminated against, legally, for the rest of their lives, denied employment, housing, education, and public benefits. Most provocatively, she reveals how both the move toward colorblindness and affirmative action may blur our vision of injustice: most Americans know and don't know the truth about mass incarceration—but her carefully researched, deeply engaging, and thoroughly readable book should change that.—Publishers Weekly

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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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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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Negro Digest / Black World

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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 / George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

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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 24 March 2012




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Related file:   Loud and Long Through the Valley  Pink Ribbon   Poems  by Andrea Barnwell