ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes


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Revolution don't live here anymore / battered and bartered on / political back room floors

We are the remnant of dreams / deferred caught in / tsunami tides flooding / the slow lane to justice

walking the yellow line / mentally sidetracked / we hog tied in / back seats / Still tight packed and shipped





                               By Ayodele Nzinga


We sit on bumpers

curbs and corners

lean against black and whites

we Mau Maus

North 'merican Zulus

nappy knotted

locked in dread turf boys

we stay stopped by cops

on hot blocks floating

with cheeva and chops

We look like the suspects in

the latest shoot em up

we look like the victims too

We hunted ever blunted

living stunted while

we stumble locked

in the game

riding sideways

waiting for change

Revolution don't live here anymore

battered and bartered on

political back room floors

We are the remnant of dreams

deferred caught in

tsunami tides flooding

the slow lane to justice

walking the yellow line

mentally sidetracked

we hog tied in

back seats

Still tight packed and shipped

to City State Federal plantations

Living fractured

under obligation

no reparations

ever shattered by separation

pistol whipped on back streets

disrespected respectively

thugs not but wanna be's

caught in the cross-hairs of

real honest to God  gangstas &

the  requisite pretenders

the obligatory haters

that reluctantly reflect you

shinning as you struggle to survive

(like it's a bad thing)

8 cars on the curb

Mama looks like a lioness

Sister can't stop crying

they stomp on memories

on scraps of paper

with the  babies  faces on them

they break grannies corn bread bowl

they take baby boys sneakers from

the boxes, smash big brothers mic

(they are trying to bust up our life)

they break the toilet

looking for  drugs and criminals

that don't exist

they leave unsatisfied

We look at them from

the distance of haughty

full moon eyes

filled with spirit(s) that

won't be broken

We got voodoo mask

faces and heads turned

to catch stars in eyes

still arrogant

still undefeated

still we rise

weaving though

cherries and blueberries

vowing not to be  statistics

or wax ballistic some quiet

morning in a grey office

in response to a government face

unsaying us

We live off hope

grow in want

worshiping gods

with angry tongues who

explode bombs of poetry

composed of wasted potential

and human yearning

on all night buses

where homeless people sleep

when shelters are full

© ws-12/27/08

*   *   *   *   *

Extraordinary rendition in practice:

The opaque and confidential nature of the CIA's covert program of extraordinary rendition… Vice President Dick Cheney has said that when dealing with terrorism, "We're operating through sort of, you know, a dark side."

The extraordinary rendition program sends suspects to countries with atrocious human rights records, such as Egypt and Syria, both of which have been consistently cited in US State Department reports for using torture. As early as 1994, the State Department concluded that in Egypt, "torture is used to extract information. . . . Detainees are frequently stripped to their underwear; hung by their wrists with their feet touching the floor or forced to stand for prolonged periods; doused with hot and cold water; beaten; forced to stand outdoors in cold weather, and subjected to electric shocks."

These findings have been verified each year in the State Department's annual reports. Principal methods of torture and abuse included stripping and blindfolding victims; beating victims with fists, whips, metal rods, or other objects; using electric shocks; and sexual abuse, including sodomy.

Some victims, including women and children, reported sexual assaults or threats of rape against themselves or family members. Human rights groups and the media have documented numerous cases of torture: documented more than 567 cases of torture inside police stations, including 167 deaths that the organization concluded were caused by torture and mistreatment.

Rendition: the act of interpreting something as expressed in an artistic performance

In law, rendition is a "surrender" or "handing over" of persons or property, particularly from one jurisdiction to another.

*   *   *   *   *


                                    By Ayodele Nzinga

i grew in the shadow

of the tales of her

the shining

mistress with open arms

who crowned the good

on streets of gold

with a chicken in every pot

a job for every man

& no child left behind

the glorious dream

called America

if you are told

you will believe


you got to love

a good hook

glory glory

bless my country


(that never was and

yet must be, deferred

adrift in politics

waiting for a paradigm



america shine light

so we may see

how blind justice is

raining only on

poor men's houses

god only loves the

good only answers

the prayers of

those who tithe

in English or perhaps


no idealist here

we must remain practical

measure the weight of

the means after you

achieve the end

we can lie about the past

time only goes forward


(…he said when they

placed the cable in his

hand every thought of

any pleasant thing that

had ever happened to him




employed globally

who's the terrorist

performing democracy

in print


the embodiment of  horror

bury land minds  in the soil

where cattle once grazed

the dead do not eat meat

sorrow is free

& apparently invisible

where are the eyes

where are the ears

where is joshua


(who killed the fourth estate

embedded it with lies

for advertising dollars

monopolizing compromising

the people's right to know) 


learned to pledge my allegiance

small hand over open heart

learned columbus tarzan

john wayne cold  war

bomb shelters chemical war

dirty reds gooks wetbacks

before I knew that

they had a name for me too

in america where

the fires of the world

are fanned with flags

we kill with culture

progress can be lethal

materialism can cause blindness

too much can make you deaf

patriotism can make you dumb

side effects or main directives

performed like devotions

to tyrants posing as god


(and depleted uranium is a

weapon that keeps on killing

silently in sand that blows

into noses slides down throats

into bowels exploding into

uteruses killing into the future

bleeding fetuses on to floors in

minnesota better to shoot blanks

murder is murder is murder)


who will render the criminals

who identify terrorist

while they themselves

in fine sounding language

distort murder with bunting

and anthems while cemeteries

overflow and morticians grow

fat and buy stock in a  future

that has no chance

if the present has

no eyes no ears no courage


(he didn't go into the army

cause he believed the myth I

swallowed he was hooked by

different fish poverty

was his moby dick he was

under obligation to lift the

anchor still hanging from the ship)


if the world is composed

of words then god has

stopped talking

because the deaf have

only bags of want

they have forgotten

the sound of children

laughing because the

sun is shining

gone is all but

the scent of naked loss

keened in quiet laments

and etched by poets

on scraps of longing

they are afraid to read

at coffee houses full

of blind liberals who

are secret republicans

rabid democrats

neo communist

voting independent

color blind philanthropist

recovering atheist

practicing buddhist

living green

leaving no foot print

100 per cent organic

& deaf & dumb


(when they put him

in the small cell he

thought they would

realize their mistake

soon and let him go)



we live lies

enact illusions

we are not safe

we are not free

not even enough

to open our eyes


(…he said he will never

feel safe again)


we do not trust


we have given away

our courage

our belief in the possibility

that the dream was supposed

to mean what we thought it

meant someone raise the flag

and thump a bible here


(he said he knows something

he wants not to know

he has seen how the lie

is stitched with human

thread he has looked

evil in the eye and seen

its human pulse and he is

afraid forever)


so we keep our eyes closed

so we can re-member to the

old tunes from  gone  never

really here just historized

days like recreated/aborted 

Camelot's shot with dreams of

change we are afraid to

make praying messiahs we

will crucify refusing to see

ourselves as the murders

until we are among the

murdered the rubble of

our blind deafness is

still not a roadmap

we want change

but we won't change


(he is home from the

cell the gulag the prison

the army the nightmare

of escape has come true

he is  home  but will

never see the same

he can hear the pain

he can hear the pain

he talks but it's hard

to listen)


in the distance the

band is playing

and fees are extracted

the future needs

ears today

tomorrow may not

come without eyes today

when bellies need rice

water is being sold

scared forest are dying

ice caps are melting

and capitalism needs

a heart transplant

& all of your blood

so that the grandchildren of

bankers can go to

private schools


(he walks at night

waiting listening

he can hear the pain

drowning everything

roaring like a thousand

rivers driven by a wanton

wind mumbling in the darkest

part of his bruised soul like

a million angry voices)


we need to understand

we are the wind


(he is coming undone

bullets in the chamber

we are not safe

no safety

he can hear the pain

roaring like a thousand rivers)


we must remember

we must be the river


(lies parentheses margins

boundaries crossed

he can hear the pain

like voices in his night)


where is Joshua

where are a million


angry voices

demanding light

we are the missing voices

we are creators of nothing

if we cannot accept the

pain we have allowed

to dance in our name

across the globe


(he can hear the pain)


America, America

where is joshua

who re-members


(the pain)



who renders thee?

© ws 1/01/09

*   *   *   *   *

Poet/actress Ayodele Nzinga is doing her PhD thesis on Marvin X and the Black Arts Movement. His archives were recently acquired by the University of California , Bancroft Library.

*   *   *   *   *'s 25 Best Selling Books



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*   *   *   *   *

What This Cruel War Was Over

Soldiers Slavery and the Civil War

By Chandra Manning

For this impressively researched Civil War social history, Georgetown assistant history professor Manning visited more than two dozen states to comb though archives and libraries for primary source material, mostly diaries and letters of men who fought on both sides in the Civil War, along with more than 100 regimental newspapers. The result is an engagingly written, convincingly argued social history with a point—that those who did the fighting in the Union and Confederate armies "plainly identified slavery as the root of the Civil War." Manning backs up her contention with hundreds of first-person testimonies written at the time, rather than often-unreliable after-the-fact memoirs. While most Civil War narratives lean heavily on officers, Easterners and men who fought in Virginia, Manning casts a much broader net. She includes immigrants, African-Americans and western fighters, in order, she says, "to approximate cross sections of the actual Union and Confederate ranks." Based on the author's dissertation, the book is free of academese and appeals to a general audience, though Manning's harsh condemnation of white Southerners' feelings about slavery and her unstinting praise of Union soldiers' "commitment to emancipation" take a step beyond scholarly objectivity.—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

*   *   *   *   *

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

*   *   *   *   *

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

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Negro Digest / Black World

Browse all issues

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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

*   *   *   *   *

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 16 March 2012




Home  Marvin X Table

Related files:   Duet for The Godfather (Wordslanger)  Blessings Are Due  (Ayodele Nzinga)  Beyond Religion toward Spirituality  Leonard Peltier: Letter to a Relative