AfroPoets Famous Writers


The poem is a defense of Ntozake Shange which was published in an issue of Al
Young and Ishmael Reed's Quilt magazine. This poem was written and published
during the backlash against Ntozake Shange that many males were whipping up
over "Colored Girls." This was the kind of piece that put me at odds with some of
my fellow male writers. That was O.K. with me, in fact I enjoyed the confrontation.
( circa late 1970's

(to those who wish
she would shut up)

if yr life had
happened to a man, the
whole world would know abt it,
but you a big legged woman
breaking the monopoly of male writers
talking bold about what has kept
you from walking off the ledge of life
and what drove you out the window
in the first place, about to
silently hit the sky falling
like a dropped drum stick
during the middle of the big number

talk abt yrself
yr blkwomanself/neo-african
in the midst of a land caught up in
worshipping twentieth century minstrels
talk about womanness and exaltations
and never uttering the lie about being
sorry not to be born a boy, talk
like you think, like you feel,
like you move through decaying urban america
pass fashions, kitchen recipes, modern romances
and mythical holy vaginal orgasms
talk like our moses spake
in the middle of headin' north night
pressing a slack-jawed man who
couldn't keep his pants dry:
"once we get started, ain't no turning
talk like that lil sister, can't
remember her name, who shot hot
breath all up in a white boy's face
and double dared him to fuck with her
in the hallway, in class, after school, on
the bus or any other goddamn time, back in
1958, in one of their schools when,
at the time, you did good just
to stay proudly black and defiantly sane
talk like you an oracle
bearing witness to changing times
or the sphinx sitting on the secret
in the desert, not only was you blk
but, yes, possibly you were woman
when napoleon saw that he barked
the order for his battery
of cannons to commence
and left pat of your nose,
and a piece of lip
pulverized and floating
a dusty cloud toward the nile
talk that talk
when the truth is revealed to the
light, the shysters will all scream
'taint fair, they'll cry
foul, say yo strikes smokin
clean down themiddle are misses,
say you high, or low, or wide,
or you got spit on the ball,
you see you just ain't allowed
on the mound and there you
are talking like you ain't
never heard of being
quiet and pretty in the bleachers
talk Shange, talk
like a lioness putting
her jaw around a jackass' throat

to some men
the sound of blkwomansong
is noise
but no matter,
many of us are dancing anyway
and in time most all of us will be waving
red bandannas and shouting: "amen,
amen, sister, amen"

Written by Kalamu Ya Salaam


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