The Sunday Poem: Amira Baraka . . . Slice Of Life & Lines To Garcia Lorca

Mr. Baraka lived from October 7th 1934 to January 9th 2014.

Slice Of Life

The train pulled in to Hartsville, S. C, and an
          angel jumped out....
It was dark and he was scared
And the only sound was the noise
The moonlight makes when it strikes the rails.

He picked himself up, brushed off his wings, and
          looked around for the 'John'....
There were three of them, 'Johns'
That is, one marked MEN, one
Marked WOMEN, and the third marked OTHERS.

He hesitated momentarily, checked his credentials
          and murmured,
'I wonder, could they have known?'

Amira Baraka


Lines To Garcia Lorca

Climin up the mountin, ChiIrun / Didn't come here for to stay.
If I'm ever gonna see you agin, / It'll be on the judgement day.
--Negro Spiritual

Send soldiers again to kill you, Garcia.
Send them to quell my escape. These things
          mean nothing.
You are dying, again, Garcia. This is all I
Send soldiers again, Garcia.        Hail Mary,
Holy mother.
Pray for me.

I live near a mountain, green mirror
Of burning paths and a low sun to measure
          my growing by.
There is a wind that repeats a bird's name
          and near his
Cage is a poem, and a small boy herding
Cattle with diamonds
In their mouths.

Mandolins grow on the highslopes
And orange robed monks collect songs
Just beyond the last line of fruit trees.
Naked girls pretend they are butterflies,
And a deer tells stories to the twilight.

Garcia, where is my bible?

I want to read those myths
Again.                                  No answer.

But way off, quite close to the daylight,
I hear his voice, and he is laughing, laughing
Like a Spanish guitar.

Amira Baraka

These poems are in the first Yugen which Amira Baraka (then LeRoi Jones) and Hettie (Cohen) Jones compiled and published in 1958 from NY. You can check out and even download these remarkable and vitally influential publications at Reality Studio. Our own Judson Crews has two poems in this first Yugen. 


Send submissions for the Sunday Poem to Tell others about The Sunday Poem if you like this, and check out the weekly poem in the New Mexico Mercury. 

Larry Goodell  (for my online work. see this.)


Mr. Baraka was introduced by Albuquerque's Poet Laureate, Hakim Bellamy, at this extraordinary event in 2010.

Views: 297

Comment by Margaret Randall on January 12, 2014 at 8:43am

Thank you, Larry, for honoring Baraka's life and work with these two poems from the old Yugen days, a time that continually gave birth to exciting work. For those interested in a fascinating rendering of those times, Hettie Jones' memoir HOW I BECAME HETTIE JONES is a must read. I read and reread the Baraka quote that you use at the top of this page. I'm not sure I can separate thought (or feeling) from art. But I agree with his words that to revere art without an understanding of the process that forces it into existence takes away from one's understanding of it. LeRoi Jones/Amiri Baraka was a powerful voice for our and other generations. He will be missed.

Comment by Izquierdo on January 12, 2014 at 3:18pm

"the only sound was the noise
The moonlight makes when it strikes the rails,"

is a line I never heard before, but one I don't think I'll ever forget.

There's just something about it that makes me smile, mostly humor, I guess. I'll probably be parroting it obnoxiously ever chance I get.


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