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Kalamu ya Salaam's information blog

 

 

 

 

NTOZAKE SHANGE

(to those who wish

she would shut up)

 

I

if yr life had

happened to a man, the

whole world would know abt it,

but you a big legged woman

breaking the monopoly of male writers

talking bold about what has kept

you from walking off the ledge of life

and what drove you out the window

in the first place, about to

silently hit the sky falling

like a dropped drum stick

during the middle of the big number

 

II.

talk abt yrself

yr blkwomanself/neo-african

in the midst of a land caught up in

worshipping twentieth century minstrels

 

talk bout womanness and exaltations

and never uttering the lie about being

sorry not to be born a boy, talking

like you think, like you feel,

like you move through decaying urban america

pass fashions, kitchen recipes, modern romances

and mythical holy vaginal orgasms

 

talk like our moses spake

in the middle of headin’ north night

pressing a slack-jawed man who

couldn’t keep his pants dry:

“once we get started, ain’t no turning

back!”

 

talk like that lil sister, can’t

remember her name, who shot hot

breath all up in a white boy’s face

and doubled dared him to fuck with her

 in the hallway, in class, after school, on

the bus or any other goddamn time, back in

1958, in one of their schools when,

at the time, you did good just

to stay proudly black and defiantly sane

 

talk like you an oracle

bearing witness to changing times

or the sphinx sitting on the secret

in the desert, not only was you blk

but, yes, possibly you were woman

when napoleon saw that he barked

the order for his battery

of cannons to commence

and left part of your nose,

and a piece of lip

pulverized and floating

a dusty cloud toward the nile

 

talk that talk

when the truth is revealed to the

light, the shysters will all scream

taint fair, they’ll cry

foul, say you strikes smoking

clean down the middle are misses,

say you high, or low, or wide,

or you got spit on the ball,

you see you just ain’t allowed

on the mound and there you

are talking like you ain’t

never heard of being

quiet and pretty in the bleachers

 

talk Shange, talk

like a lioness putting

your jaw around a jackass’ throat

 

III.

to some men

the sound of blkwomansong

is noise

 

but no matter,

many of us are dancing anyway

and in time most all us will be waving

red bandanas and shouting: “amen, sister,

ain’t it the truth, amen”

 

well.

well.

 

—kalamu ya salaam

 

 

 

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