By Amiri Baraka
In the south, sleeping against
the drugstore, growling under
the trucks and stoves, stumbling
through and over the cluttered eyes
of early mysterious night. Frowning
drunk waving moving a hand or lash.
Dancing kneeling reaching out, letting
a hand rest in shadows. Squatting
to drink or pee. Stretching to climb
pulling themselves onto horses near
where there was sea (the old songs
lead you to believe). Riding out
from this town, to another, where
it is also black. Down a road
where people are asleep. Towards
the moon or the shadows of houses.
Towards the songs’ pretended sea.
Amiri Baraka, “Legacy” from Black Magic (Indianapolis: The Bobbs-Merrill Company, 1969). Copyright © 1969 by Amiri Baraka. Reprinted with the permission of Sll/Sterling Lord Literistic, Inc.
Source: Black Magic (Bobbs-Merrill, 1969)
Amiri Baraka was born LeRoi Jones in Newark, New Jersey, and attended Howard University. After graduating, he moved to New York and joined the Beat literary scene, befriending, among others, the poet Allen Ginsberg. After the death of Malcolm X, he changed his name and joined the Black Nationalist movement, which sought to unite all African Americans around their shared cultural heritage, through diverse, if sometimes extreme, means. In the 1970s, Baraka denounced the movement as narrow, and became a Marxist. Baraka taught for decades and died in 2014.
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