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Poetry Written for Malcolm X

Christine C. Johnson

My Brother Malcolm

------------------

I see you now
Standing tall,
Erect, fearless,
Speaking with voice so loud
Accusing, condemning
Wrong.
Wrong against the Brother,
Who has suffered
So long, so long,
So long.

I hear you Malcolm.
You with perfect diction.
Fire in your voice
Fire in your eyes
Saying the things
That the Brother and Sister
Long to hear.

I feel the warmth of your
Handclasp.
The true feeling of friendship
And brotherly love.
I feel the tenderness of your love
And sincerity.
Truly you were my brother,
And brother of all black mankind.
Ah! Brother, why did you have
To die?

 

in: "For Malcolm", p.3, in "Part I. The Life"


Clarence Major

They Feared That He Believed
----------------------------

The press boys tried to erase
what he said. Smear it. Change it.
This meant that he no longer
trusted the lies of the times.
Too strong in his manhood.
This meant that reason was no longer reason.
What he said showed them
he did not see the world through
THEIR eyes. This frightened them:
And his death came.
Was not permitted by magic to take;
he was not here long enough
for the final exams- so
no showdown came: because the cops
and the lie still lived.

 

in "For Malcolm", p.6, in "Part I. The Life"


For Brother Malcolm
there is no memorial site
in harlem
save the one we are building
in the streets of
our young minds
till our hands & eyes
have strength to mould
the concrete beneath our feet


Edward S. Spriggs
in "For Malcolm", p. 73, also in Vicious Modernism, p. 153


Gwendolyn Brooks

Malcolm X
---------
for Dudley Randall

Original.
Hence ragged-round,
Hence rich-robust.

He had the hawk-man's eyes.
We gasped. We saw the maleness.
The maleness raking out and making guttural the air
And pushing us to walls.

And in a soft and fundamental hour
A sorcery devout and vertical
Beguiled the world.

He opened us -
Who was a key.

Who was a man.

 

in: "For Malcolm". p.3, in "Part I. The Life"


James Worley

The Cost
--------

Soft answers turn away, they say,
Wrath. True perhaps. But at what cost?
How often wrath, thus answered, veers
Smirkingly sure its point is made.
(Wrath smirking battens unassuaged
And preens to fright another day.)
Is a wrath turned smug to be preferred
To one confronted, challenged and-
If unquellable- endured
In the dignity that stanchness gives
To those whose cause willl not defer?
(Even wrath that overpowers
Is lessoned and diminished by
A victim that is adamant.)
Soft answers, sponges, take offense
Into every masochistic pore
And spongelike hold it hidden neat
In lieu of the gusts that courage gulps.
(While the tide that lordly forced the pores
Ebbs in contemptuous certainty,
Its flotsam stays to fret each cell
Of the seeming-same soft-answerer.)

 

in "For Malcolm", p.5
in "Part I. The Life"


page 194
Keorapetse Kgositsile, "The Awakening", in LeRoi Jones and Larry Neal, Black Fire (New York : Morrow,
1968), pp. 226-7

"Amidst sit-ins, kneel-ins, sleep-ins and mass mis-education
Brother Malcolm's voice is penetrated alienated bloodcells
Teaching Black manhood in Harlem USA
Endorsing "Bandung,"
Retrieving Black balls cowering in glib Uncle Tomism
Forcing me to grow up ten feet tall and Black
My crotch too high
For the pedestal of Greco-Roman Anglo-Saxon
adolescent Fascist myth.

Now I see everything against a Black background
As Black and proud as Melba
Breaking the blood-dripping icons of Western congenital chicanery

Enthralling me like the cataract of a cosmic orgasm.


Harlem Gallery : From the inside

... ghosts booga
loo against the haze, Malcolm eyes in the yellow gloom
blood on black hands. compacted rooms of gloom. Garvey's
flesh in the rat's teeth. Lady day at 100 centre street
Charlie Parker dying in the penthouse of an aristocratic
bitch. Carlos Cook, Ras, Shine, Langston, the Barefoot
Prophet. Ira Kemp, the Signifying Monkey, Bud Powell.
Trane, Prez, Chano Pozo, Eloise Moore - all
falling faces in the Harlem rain
asphalt memory of blood and pain.

Larry Neal

"Harlem Gallery : From the inside",. in Hoodoo Hollerin' Bebop Ghosts (Washington, D.C.: Howard University
Press, 1974), pp24-5 (in Vicious Modernism, page 148)


Imamu Amiri Baraka

A Poem for Black Hearts

For Malcolm's eyes, when they broke
the face of some dumb white man, For
Malcolm's hands raised to bless us
all black and strong in his image
of ourselves, For Malcolm's words
fire darts, the victor's tireless
thrusts, words hung above the world
change as it may, he said it, and
for this he was killed, for saying,
and feeling, and being/ change, all
collected hot in his heart, For Malcolm's
heart, raising us above our filthy cities,
for his stride, and his beat, and his address
to the grey monsters of the world, For Malcolm's
pleas for your dignity, black men, for your life,
black man, for the filling of your minds
with righteousness, For all of him dead and
gone and vanished from us, and all of him which
clings to our speech black god of our time.
For all of him, and all of yourself, look up,
black man, quit stuttering and shuffling, look up,
black man, quit whining and stooping, for all of him,
For Great Malcolm a prince of the earth, let nothing in us rest
until we avenge ourselves for his death, stupid animals
that killed him, let us never breathe a pure breath if
we fail, and white men call us faggots till the end of
the earth.


Le Roi Jones (Imamu Amiri Baraka), April 1965
in "For Malcolm", p. 61, also in "Black Magic Poetry 1961-1967", Copyright 1969 by LeRoi Jones, Published by Bobbs-Merrill Company, Inc., and in "Afro-American Writing - An Anthology of Prose and Poetry" (ISBN 0-271-00374-x, 1986, 2nd edition), edited by Richard A. Long and Eugenia W. Collier


Mari Evans

The Insurgent
-------------

Give me my freedom
lest I die
for pride runs through my veins
not blood
and principles
support me so that
I
with lifted head see
Liberty . . . . not sky!
For I am he who
dares to say
I shall be Free, or dead -
today. . .

in: "For Malcolm", p.4, in "Part I. The Life"


At that moment

At that moment
When they shot Malcolm Little down
On the stage of the Audobon Ballroom,
When his life ran out through bullet holes
(Like the people running out then the murder began)
His blood soaked the floor
One drop found a crack through the stark
Pounding thunder-slipped under the stage and began
Its journey: burrowed through concrete into the cellar,
Dropped down darkness, exploding like quicksilver
Pellets of light, panicking rats, paralyzing cockroaches-
Tunneled through rubble and wrecks of foundations,
The rocks that buttress the bowels of the city, flowed
Into pipes and powerlines, the mains and cables of the city:
A thousand fiery seeds.

At that moment,
Those who drank water where he entered...
Those who cooked food where he passed...
Those who burned light while he listened...
Those who were talking as he went, knew he was water
Running out of faucets, gas running out of jets, power
Running out of sockets, meaning running along taut wires -
To the hungers of their living. It was said
Whole slums of clotted Harlem plumbing groaned
And sundered free that day, and disconnected gas and light
Went on and on and on ...
They rushed his riddled body on a stretcher
To the hospital. But the police were too late.
It had already happened.


Raymond R. Patterson
in "For Malcolm", p.69, also in Vicious Modernism, p.153 (only second stanza)


Reginald Wilson in "For Our American Cousins" in "For Malcolm",p.36
also in Vicious Modernism, page 153

Then black mothers moaned and wept
on the curbs of Harlem
as the crepe-draped catafalque
that bore his great body
grumbled by through the mourning streets.
Then our pain was made manifest
beyond enduring.
Though we could not conceive it,
we knew.
Tough we could not bear it,
we stood.


Ted Joans

My Ace of Spades
----------------

MALCOLM X SPOKE TO ME and sounded you
Malcolm X said this to me & THEN TOLD you that!
Malcolm X whispered in my ears but SCREAMED on you!
Malcolm X praised me & thus condemned you
Malcolm X smiled at me & sneered at you
Malcolm X made me proud & so you got scared
Malcolm X told me to HURRY & you began to worry
Malcolm X sang to me but GROWLED AT YOU!!
Malcolm X words freed me & they frightened you
Malcolm X tol' it lak it DAMN SHO' IS!!
Malcolm X said that everybody will be F R E E ! !
Malcolm X told both of us the T R U T H . . . . . .
now didn't he?

in: "For Malcolm", p.5, in "Part I. The Life"

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