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By Amiri Baraka

(For Blues People)

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.


Notes:

The epigraph of this poem was originally omitted in the changeover to the new website. Because of this, reciting the epigraph is optional for the 2019-2020 Poetry Out Loud season.

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)

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Poet Bio

Amiri Baraka
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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