ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes


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Can you follow me? I’m walking— / round the corner at Retreat, a man smeared

in grease—in his open air garage—between / warehouse fire debris & boarded house.

He’s making money—no capital. Hooded / boys hang near, their goods bagged in alleys.






Postcard from Hell

            For Etheridge Knight

                                   By Rudolph Lewis


We speak of burning moments

a spoonful off a brick, toadlily flowers 

in fallthe bubbling, the needle waiting.

That rope between lips & teeth.

Like smack, blood pushes back 

the walls in which it flows.


Can you follow me? I’m walking—

round the corner at Retreat, a man smeared

in grease—in his open air garage—between

warehouse fire debris & boarded house.

He’s making money—no capital except tools & skills

Hooded boys hang near, their goods bagged in alleys.


At Francis, toward Pennsylvania,

is Ay Jay Deli & Store. Ma & Pa

made theirs now on a jet

for family & Korea. Her sister left behind

hard plastic with other-side black aliens.

While they point out their desires

folks say why don’t they hire us since

she knows only, "Hi Hon-nee."


People search for dollar a day work

across the globeLouisiana's all over

the compass, men & women moving 

or being moved. Working people push back

with fire sticks, machetes, and drugs.


Surviving some go alongthat kid

lives in a single family home, new.

His playmate in an old third floor

apartment, two rooms, five sleep on

roacheschicken box babies & tv.


Last week the church tore down

two buildings for a parking lot.

I declined the deacon’s invitation

for a sermon on Christ the Savior.


Near the end of Retreat, a white

hand-painted garage owned by

Garveyites from Kingston, but

they don’t show they colors.

They don't play Bob Marley

for everybody can hear his message.


On the side entrances leaning on 

white walls in blue uniforms—

grandmothers, women who’ve

had their running round, pushing

up generations of neglect & terror.

They sit on the stoopsthe steps 

no cool air on hot laundry July afternoons.

What's their future—food stamps 

& hand-me downs? They

wring their hands & hush a cry.


Atlas hoists no world like these.


Sir Knight of Yesteryear,

today we're all dressed 

in black—2005 is fire & water

mixed with oil—gas prices rising.


Hell is Mississippi is America

for us & He Who Sees Through Stone.

2 December 2005

posted 2 December 2005

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Mr. Lewis: Good morning. I really like this poem. I think it, in “postcard fashion,” depicts a life of Brother Knight that is captured by the writer. Additionally, I think the stanzas work well. Please note that I have been reading the posts and I plan on showing my support. The semester is almost over—which means I can focus my energies and resources in other directions. ChickenBones must continue! It allows writers to remain current and sharpen their craft. It has helped my writing tremendously.  All the best, Van G. Garrett

now that's a poem from the field. masterful, griot rudy. -lmsekou

Rahim—Peace! Just a few words of praise for your poem "Postcard from Hell." Well done! The imagery captures the west Baltimore scene with all its complexities. It flows nicely and has a interesting stream of consciousness effect to it. I ask you as I asked my moma at Sunday dinner—give us more! amin sharif

Etheridge would have liked this poem very much, because you capture the despair of the inner city neighborhood in the same way that he deals with the horrors of prison life. Miriam

Read Etheridge Knight's Once on a Night in the Delta  and He Sees Through Stone -- Rudy

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Becoming American Under Fire

Irish Americans, African Americans, and the Politics of Citizenship

During the Civil War Era

By Christian G. Samito

In Becoming American under Fire, Christian G. Samito provides a rich account of how African American and Irish American soldiers influenced the modern vision of national citizenship that developed during the Civil War era. By bearing arms for the Union, African Americans and Irish Americans exhibited their loyalty to the United States and their capacity to act as citizens; they strengthened their American identity in the process. Members of both groups also helped to redefine the legal meaning and political practices of American citizenship. For African American soldiers, proving manhood in combat was only one aspect to their quest for acceptance as citizens. As Samito reveals, by participating in courts-martial and protesting against unequal treatment, African Americans gained access to legal and political processes from which they had previously been excluded. The experience of African Americans in the military helped shape a postwar political movement that successfully called for rights and protections regardless of race. For Irish Americans, soldiering in the Civil War was part of a larger affirmation of republican government and it forged a bond between their American citizenship and their Irish nationalism. The wartime experiences of Irish Americans helped bring about recognition of their full citizenship through naturalization and also caused the United States to pressure Britain to abandon its centuries-old policy of refusing to recognize the naturalization of British subjects abroad. / For Love of Liberty

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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

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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 18 March 2012




Home Criminalizing a Race: Blacks and Prisons Table  Mosquitoes Fly Out My Head

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The Propaganda of History    Mosquitoes Fly Out My Head