Words in honor of our dead: Memorial Day, 2015

The Negro Soldiers

These truly are the Brave,

These men who cast aside

Old memories, to walk the bloodstained pave

Of sacrifice, joining the solemn tide

That moves away, to suffer and to die

For Freedom—when their own is yet denied!

Roscoe C. Jamison

1922 (THE BOOK OF AMERICAN NEGRO POETRY)

Are They Gone?

are they gone?

the strange sweet days

the pockmark jaw

of manliness

the moonlight caught

in the could-be lovely eyes

are they gone?

Donald Woods

(1957-1992)

1993 (SOJOURNER: BLACK AND GAY VOICES IN THE AGE OF AIDS)

Choirs

Three choirs sang at your service . . .

. . . boys in robes

And polished fingernails.

Your first lover preached,

And it was like Saturday night.

Three choirs sang.

None very good without

You

Jewelle Gomez

2008 (TO BE LEFT WITH THE BODY)

Elegy for Clement Alexander Price

(1944-2014)

Fugitive beloved,

Irradiating our belabored city,

whose cracked streets give you splendid passage,

leaving us desolate

here

in this

drear space

of infinite sorrow.

Give him back to us!

Cheryl Clarke

2015 (Unpublished)

Death Poem

You could say

I’m a fan,

A cheerleader

Clothed in a varsity cassock

Two skulls for pompoms.

I’m always impressed with your victories

And hate it when people

Cheat you.

Steven G. Fullwood

2008 (TO BE LEFT WITH THE BODY)

I’ll Be Somewhere Listening for My Name

I may not be around to celebrate with you the publication of gay literary history. But I’ll be somewhere listening for my name.

If I don’t make it to Tea Dance in Provincetown or the Pines, I’ll be somewhere listening for my name.

You, then, are charged . . . by the broadness of your vision, to remember us.

Melvin Dixon

(1950-1992)

1993 (SOJOURNER: BLACK AND GAY VOICES IN THE AGE OF AIDS)

All Souls Day

Half-masked we skip out onto the street

laughing at our little triumph

pretending we have no history

no sordidness

no deaths

and maiming

have never known the little girl

who got a block of wood

forced in her smallmouth for crying.

Cheryl Clarke

1993 (EXPERIMENTAL LOVE)

Before and After

Sean’s half-shut eye is a weight on his already-heavy head. He would not say that he was waiting for this moment. But when it comes—a shudder that feels like death washes across his body as he waits for the elevator that never arrives—he is ready.

A. Naomi Jackson

2008 (TO BE LEFT WITH THE BODY)

Elegy for a Best Friend

she died at the age I was last year

my God, how could that be

she left me mud cloth from Mali yellow tail shiraz

before she leave she teach me to holla from meh navel string up

chile let dem words rise cook life

till de pot nearly full girl

Cheryl Boyce-Taylor

2011/12 (SUNDAY POEMS)


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