ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes


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His esteemed wife is dressed as a / white angel in Woman Thou Art

Loosed Cookbook by Bishop T.D. / Jakes. Under cover they all have

the spiritual gift of tongues



Strutting in a Cold Sweat

By Rudolph Lewis


On the lower end Druid Hill where Sugar Hill was

in the 40s and 50s is lined with trees that flower

like Chinese gardens. They not oaks like they once


were. No lemon colored sweet men with dark pencil

mustaches swanker these desperate streets. They died

like old habits, slowly. Full-lipped blacks with knots


dense as African jungles now speak ringingly clear

as gunshots in damp morning air. In dim hallways

young women with golden smiles like used to be


chandeliers are pulled down and bought for scrap.

Survival is hard and grim. For young black men

Bethlehem Steel long closed its gates to building


black families. Bologna slices & salty fatback can

be purchased to season lima beans. Out of work we

sleep whiskey dreams.  Choirs are pre-recorded gospels


at Bethel AME. Folks have forgotten how to swing

with Sweet Jesus on the cross. They packed up &

moved west and north from Pennsylvania Avenue.


At New Psalmist Baptist on Old Frederick Road, a sweet

smelling man of God baptized himself bishop of miracles

and chief administrator of the Word.  His esteemed wife


is dressed as a white angel in Woman Thou Art  Loosed

Cookbook by Bishop T.D. Jakes, a local icon of success.

Under covers they all have the spiritual gift of tongues.


I’ve read Milton’s Paradise Lost. I know the Devil ain’t

a god of poverty. The Army of the Lord receives wages

& executive bonuses.  Their blazing canons go Bang! Bang!


Bang! when they get laid as law-abiding citizens. Shades

have been drawn. The globe lights up with Shock & Awe!

Pain ain’t blues when the world grows midnight dark.

 5 February 2006 / revised 3 December 2011

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I like the Druids, translated them in Latin in HS. They wore hoods, took many vacations and were pacifists, so we revived the sect, using Stokely Carmichael as our leader, because of that famous photo of him in a hood. we all wore the button, until the principal brought us into his office and told us to stop.Kam

I can really see and taste and feel Baltimore in your poetry.  Your poems have such a strong sense of place but the landscape ain't pretty.Miriam

Rudy, you are so ingenious. No, the force of this poem does not dawle or limp along! I love the energy! This poem makes me laugh. My favorite lines are "I've read Milton's Paradise Lost. I know the Devil ain't interested in a life of poverty."Jeannette

Mr. Lewis,  I'd like to recite this on the air, February 2, 2006, 2:00 - 3:00 p.m. PDT, KPFK 90.7 FM Los Angeles, "Some Of Us Are Brave".  Show should be about the upcoming "The National Black People's Unity Convention". Regards, Grayce Gadson

I didn't know you produce such meaningful poems, so often.Floyd

posted 5 February 2006

*   *   *   *   *'s 25 Best Selling Books



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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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Blacks in Hispanic Literature: Critical Essays

Edited by Miriam DeCosta-Willis 

Blacks in Hispanic Literature is a collection of fourteen essays by scholars and creative writers from Africa and the Americas. Called one of two significant critical works on Afro-Hispanic literature to appear in the late 1970s, it includes the pioneering studies of Carter G. Woodson and Valaurez B. Spratlin, published in the 1930s, as well as the essays of scholars whose interpretations were shaped by the Black aesthetic. The early essays, primarily of the Black-as-subject in Spanish medieval and Golden Age literature, provide an historical context for understanding 20th-century creative works by African-descended, Hispanophone writers, such as Cuban Nicolás Guillén and Ecuadorean poet, novelist, and scholar Adalberto Ortiz, whose essay analyzes the significance of Negritude in Latin America. This collaborative text set the tone for later conferences in which writers and scholars worked together to promote, disseminate, and critique the literature of Spanish-speaking people of African descent. . . . Cited by a literary critic in 2004 as "the seminal study in the field of Afro-Hispanic Literature . . . on which most scholars in the field 'cut their teeth'."

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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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