ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes

   

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War and pain never cease / Many battles we fought

There’s no searching for peace / It’s release that we sought.

 

 

Mother—April 8, 2002

 By Raymond Brookter

Together,

We sit apart in a room

Separated by Memory.

You once wanted to remember for all, but

You know you forgot do in remembrance

We remember we forget.

We forget the name of the man

Who swore to love and Honor and obey as a child.

We remember that you left him.

We forget teenaged sisters’ closed arms to

Remember their Open scars.

They forgot to tell you to

Forget the name of the men

Who take you to remember who pays the bills

LOVE

To remember there’s only one head on this horse

Honor

To forget that you remember your dreams

OBEY

 

Perched, a fading studio portrait eight years old hangs pierced

Upon a nail

Long abandoned in the wall.

A second photograph with you

Apart from us

Reminds me, but not her,

Of we

Us

A family.

We remember to forget that in a fifteen-year old image on the

Gray smooth-grain wall that

We are there.

There we are and

Here we are

Sitting in remembrance

To agree to forget.

Could I know?

A king weeps over the echoes of a daughter’s golden laughter.

All else is memory done and undone by a kiss.

Love after much joy, hope, and regret

All is such a small sum in memory to forget.

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Nerve

 By Raymond Brookter

I act to clarify myself, to actualize my essence in milk moonlight

To feel

Sense peeling off layers of nerve, fidget fidget fidget.

Unforgiven me seen senses unseen

Gathering loosely in the corners of the room

Guiltily gazing at me for release,

Unforgivable me.

So close to sensation,

so close to sensate,

so close.

 

Night within my flesh

Tears apart regrets of the day

No way to explain through shredding my existence

It moves when I move,

Moves when I move,

Moves when I move.

Unforgiving

So unforgiving.

It is not containment but the guilt of freedom that measures

Movement of the shimmering shades.

Sound you can see. Sight you could smell.

Deep, dank disease roars within me

Death is the feeling of flight.

It is the tremble of death

Eyes, ears, all judged in the cover of night.

                                                                       

Can…can…can…can-you-get-to-that?

OHHHHHHH!

MamaMamamamamamamamamamamamamama

Mama…Is that

Is that what you meant?

Ohhhhhhhh!

 

The perils of sick, the perils of sickness

The Perils of Sick

The parade under defeat shrieks.

Raiding armies cry retreat.

Your spirit-mind seeks release

There’s no escape from inner peace.

The perils of sick, the perils of sick,

*   *   *   *   *

The Perils of Sickness

  By Raymond Brookter

Can…can…can…can-you-get-to-that?

OHHHHHHH!

MamaMamamamamamamamamamamamamama.

Mama…Is that

Is that, is that, is that, is that, is that

There’s no time to hallucinate

She died three hundred sixty seconds to eight.

Is that what you meant?!

It is not containment but the guilt of freedom that measures

Movement of the shimmering shades.

Sound you can see. Sight you could smell.

Deep, dank disease roars within me

Death is the feeling of flight.

It is the tremble of Life

Sight, scent, all judged in the cover of night.

May I introduce you to my Queen?

*   *   *   *   *

Reality Show

  By Raymond Brookter

Technological Illusions

Fictions of the common man.

Chemical births create confusion

Killing clowns retake the land.

Pulpitters chastise the masses.

Blood flows from TV screens.

In Formation…All Control

Information

All control.

In Formation…Follow the Leader.

All control…Release of your Rage.

In Formation…Be a Believer.

 

All control…Prophets on the Stage.

In Formation…All Control

Inform Nation…All Control

Information…All control Information.

 

Ahhhhhhhh…Do you feel it?

Rage, pain, and rain renewed.

Ahhhhhhhh…Do you feel it?

Eyes creep over ripped bedsheets.

Ahhhhhhhh…Do you feel it?

 

One Southern night envy shrieks.

No need to bleat the shepherd sleeps.

 

In Formation…All Control

Information

All control.

In Formation…Seek out the Master.

All control…Knowledge of the Plan.

In Formation…Call down the Disaster.

All control…Seconds slip through the Sand.

In Formation…All Control

Inform Nation…All Control

Information…All control

Information.

 

Ohhhhhhhhh…Can you feel it?

Name, fame, and shame refrained.

Ohhhhhhhhh…Can you feel it?

Tamed eyes glaze over Glitter beams

Ohhhhhhhhh…Can you feel it?

On a Nation’s screen as Colors bleed

Ohhhhhhhhh…Can you feel it?

 

In Formation…All Control

Information

All control.

In Formation…All Control

Information

All control.

 

Inform Nation…Worlds set Aflame.

All control…Tears shed for the Priest.

Inform Nation…Night whispers the Name.

All control…Flesh gained for the Beast.

In Formation…All Control

Inform Nation…All Control

Information…All control

Information.                                                                             

 

Technological Illusions

Fictions of the common man.

Chemical births create confusion

Killing clowns retake the land.

Pulpitters chastise the masses.

Blood flows from TV screens.

In Formation…All Control

Information

All control.

 

In Formation…Follow the Leader.

All control…Release of your Rage.

In Formation…Be a Believer.

All control…Prophets on the Stage.

In Formation…All Control

Inform Nation…All Control

Information…All control Information.

 

Ahhhhhhhh…Do you feel it?

Rage, pain, and rain renewed.

Ahhhhhhhh…Do you feel it?

Eyes creep over ripped bedsheets.

Ahhhhhhhh…Do you feel it?

One Southern night envy shrieks.

No need to bleat the shepherd sleeps.                          

 *   *   *   *   *

windowshades

Is that what you meant?

Is that what you said?

In these last days

These last ways

Blind sky seeps tears so gray at day and

Sparrows glide into Window Shades,

Window Shades.

 

In Battalions we die

To prove that we’re men

To prove that we’re strong

We go killing again.

War and pain never cease

Many battles we fought

There’s no searching for peace

It’s release that we sought.

 

Is that what you meant?

Is that what you said?

In these last days

These last ways

To live on fallen knees

Wailing agony thrust against shattered

Shuttered

Window

Windowshades.

 

Pale moon on us set

A moment of dread

Memory and regret Pierces through you like lead.

Motherless in the cold

Rain and misery mesh to devour your soul

While your pleading for flesh.

Is that why you cried?

Is that why you shake?

A minute of strife

A second to take an innocent life

A vow that you break

A moveable regret

 

Is that what you meant?

Is that what you said?

Moths float into flames…and

Willows speak through sleeping windows

 

Window Shades.                                                 

posted 21 August 2007

Raymond Brookter, a Slidell Katrina refugee, lost his "childhood home" . . .  house and cars . . . books. clothes, and music went under the sludge." He is presently a doctoral student and librarian in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.

*   *   *   *   *

AALBC.com's 25 Best Selling Books


 

Fiction

#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 Eroticanoir.com 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

Non-fiction

#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

*   *   *   *   *

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.

*   *   *   *   *

*   *   *   *   *

The Warmth of Other Suns

The Epic Story of America's Great Migration

By Isabel Wilkerson

Ida Mae Brandon Gladney, a sharecropper's wife, left Mississippi for Milwaukee in 1937, after her cousin was falsely accused of stealing a white man's turkeys and was almost beaten to death. In 1945, George Swanson Starling, a citrus picker, fled Florida for Harlem after learning of the grove owners' plans to give him a "necktie party" (a lynching). Robert Joseph Pershing Foster made his trek from Louisiana to California in 1953, embittered by "the absurdity that he was doing surgery for the United States Army and couldn't operate in his own home town." Anchored to these three stories is Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Wilkerson's magnificent, extensively researched study of the "great migration," the exodus of six million black Southerners out of the terror of Jim Crow to an "uncertain existence" in the North and Midwest. Wilkerson deftly incorporates sociological and historical studies into the novelistic narratives of Gladney, Starling, and Pershing settling in new lands, building anew, and often finding that they have not left racism behind. The drama, poignancy, and romance of a classic immigrant saga pervade this book, hold the reader in its grasp, and resonate long after the reading is done.

AALBC.com's 25 Best Selling Books


 

Fiction

#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 Eroticanoir.com 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

Non-fiction

#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

*   *   *   *   *

Salvage the Bones

A Novel by Jesmyn Ward

On one level, Salvage the Bones is a simple story about a poor black family that’s about to be trashed by one of the most deadly hurricanes in U.S. history. What makes the novel so powerful, though, is the way Ward winds private passions with that menace gathering force out in the Gulf of Mexico. Without a hint of pretension, in the simple lives of these poor people living among chickens and abandoned cars, she evokes the tenacious love and desperation of classical tragedy. The force that pushes back against Katrina’s inexorable winds is the voice of Ward’s narrator, a 14-year-old girl named Esch, the only daughter among four siblings. Precocious, passionate and sensitive, she speaks almost entirely in phrases soaked in her family’s raw land. Everything here is gritty, loamy and alive, as though the very soil were animated. Her brother’s “blood smells like wet hot earth after summer rain. . . . His scalp looks like fresh turned dirt.” Her father’s hands “are like gravel,” while her own hand “slides through his grip like a wet fish,” and a handsome boy’s “muscles jabbered like chickens.” Admittedly, Ward can push so hard on this simile-obsessed style that her paragraphs risk sounding like a compost heap, but this isn’t usually just metaphor for metaphor’s sake. She conveys something fundamental about Esch’s fluid state of mind: her figurative sense of the world in which all things correspond and connect. She and her brothers live in a ramshackle house steeped in grief since their mother died giving birth to her last child. . . . What remains, what’s salvaged, is something indomitable in these tough siblings, the strength of their love, the permanence of their devotion.—WashingtonPost

*   *   *   *   *

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

Browse all issues


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Enjoy!

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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 5 February 2012

 

 

 

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Related files:   windowshades and other poems  The Healing Power of Words