Better Blackness

January 1, 2014

“The Second Sermon on the Warpland” by Gwendolyn Brooks

A perfect poem for any New Year’s Day and for all who count themselves among “the last of the loud.”



This is the urgency:  Live!

and have your blooming in the noise of the whirlwind.


Salve salvage in the spin.

Endorse the splendor splashes;

stylize the flawed utility;

prop a malign or failing light–

but know the whirlwind is our commonwealth.

Not the easy man, who rides above them all,

not the jumbo brigand,

not the pet bird of poets, that sweetest sonnet,

shall straddle the whirlwind.

Nevertheless, live.


All about are the cold places,

all about are the pushmen and jeopardy, theft–

all about are the stormers and scramblers, but

what must our Season be, which starts from Fear?

Live and go out.

Define and

medicate the whirlwind.


The time

cracks into furious flower.  Lifts its face

all unashamed.  And sways in wicked grace.

Whose half-black hands assemble oranges

is tom-tom hearted

(goes in bearing oranges and boom).

And there are bells for orphans–

and red and shriek and sheen.

A garbageman is dignified

as any diplomat.

Big Bessie’s feet hurt like nobody’s business,

but she stands–bigly–under the unruly scrutiny, stands in the wild weed.

In the wild weed

she is a citizen,

and is a moment of highest quality; admirable.

It is lonesome, yes.  For we are the last of the loud.

Nevertheless, live.

Conduct your blooming in the noise and whip of the whirlwind.

–Gwendolyn Brooks, from *In the Mecca*, 1968

April 13, 2013


Filed under: Literature — betterblackness @ 5:54 pm
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By Brenda Marie Osbey

from “Qu’on Arrive Enfin (a tale in-progress)”


and so we arrive at last in our native land —
the earth itself marked by slavery.
up there, in the open air, the stink, the hot funk of hot blood
the rowdy rebel-niggers of the past.
funny, no?
how we always return to this —
the city, the life
that slavery built,
tales altogether invented
as told by historians, founding fathers, the church.
but we are sick and tired of lies, dirty tricks and fraud,
we are sick of tales and of historians
sick of indigo, tobacco, rice and rum
we are sick of king-cotton and sugar cane
sick of it all
and can only wish hard-hard-hard
that the lakes, the bayous, swamps large and small
will have swallowed it all
erased it all.

November 17, 2012

The Blackness of Blackness: An Ellison Excerpt

Filed under: Literature — betterblackness @ 1:11 am

Black is
and Black ain’t.
Black will git you
and Black won’t.
It do
and it don’t.
It’ll put you in the whale’s belly
and make you tempt Old Aunt Nelly.
Black will make you
Or Black will un-make you.
— Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man, Vintage International, 1952

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