By Ahmos ZuBolton II
she plays little sally walker
got her hands on her hips
men in her mind
she plays sapphire
and old lady shine.
i leave my footprints on the door.
she is standing in the yard
with her hair in knots,
i do her a cakewalk
she calls me lying lips
i play the possum for her
get a job as a minstrel
with a traveling poetry show.
i make it a scene on the big city
send her high-heel sneakers,
she does me a gris-gris with a
in her hand.
she orders me to dance allnight,
in late hour wine time with
watermelon on my breath,
i teach her to boogie-woogie, she
show me how
to limbo-rock on a bedspread.
Source: Open Places, No.29 (Spring 1980)
is likely that the "sally walker" of Zu-Bolton refers to
the children's song of play, in which one version is found in
Marcus Bruce Christian's "I am
New Orleans" :
grass-tuh, green grass-tuh--how green duh grass grow!
over, all over, it seems to be so!
Walker, Miss Walker, your true love is dead;
sent you a letter to turn back your head."
* * *
Ahmos Zu-Bolton (1935-2005) --
Born in Poplarville, Mississippi, Zu-Bolton is the author of
Niggered Amen (Solo Press, 1976), a collection of poetry,
and coeditor of Synergy: D.C. Anthology. he was the
founder and editor of
HooDoo magazine, and has taught
fiction and folklore at the Galveston Arts Center, Xavier
University, Delgado College, and was Tulane University's
For several years he operated his own publishing firm, Energy
Earth Communications. His work has appeared in numerous
magazines and in the anthologies
Writers: Reflections of Childhood and Youth, Vol. III, and
Southern Voices: An Anthology of Fiction Poetry, Drama,
NonFiction, and Critical Essays (1992). In addition to
operating a community bookstore, ZuBolton frequently writes for
the Louisiana Weekly.
Photo above: Ahmos ZuBolton II and Haryette Mullen
* * * * *
II—(October 21, 1948 - March 8, 2005)—President
Madison Apartments, 1908 Florida Ave. NW, Dupont Circle
neighborhood, DC.—Zu-Bolton was an activist, teacher,
playwright, and the author of three books of poems. He
founded Energy BlackSouth Press, edited the literary
and co-edited an innovative journal on cassette tape
called Black Box. He co-edited an anthology (with
E. Ethelbert Miller), called Synergy D.C. (1975).
After working at Howard University in the early 1970s,
Zu-Bolton took teaching jobs at Xavier University,
Delgado College, and Tulane University. His poetry books
Niggered Amen (1975), No Spring Chicken (1998),
and 1946 (2002).—DCwriters
* * * * *
Video: "South Side Story"
Coates author of
The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to
discusses Michelle Obama with Paul Coates an outspoken publisher
and former Black Panther—his father.
“American Girl" (Ta Nehesi Coates)
When Michelle Obama told a
Milwaukee campaign rally last February, "For the first time in
my adult life, I am proud of my country," critics derided her as
another Angry Black Woman. But the only truly radical
proposition put forth by Obama, born and raised in Chicago's
storied South Side, is the idea of a black community fully
vested in the country at large, and proud of the American dream.
* * *
* * * * *
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.—
* * *
Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in
By Melissa V.
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.
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
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
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