(Blackwoman: How come we always get into a hassle?
Blackman: . . .
Blackwoman: We never used to hassle this way
before we started making love.
Blackman: No, I think, maybe. . .
it just didn't matter as much.)
Once toward the end of Civil Rights I wrote a poem called "To the last
of My White Boyfriends."
Now I say to you
To all my baad-assed half-assed ego trippin jive-ass revolutionary niggers
is for you.
So sit yourself down
Deal with it in whatever way you can
Because I have stood on my head and walked on the ceiling.
I have been kind and good
Fought back the tears of widowhood.
I have contrived myself
I have allowed myself to be despised and yes,
So you could do the man's work you said you had to do.
I have earned the right, my man
To talk this way to you
An you ain gon' say nuthin
till I'm through:
Slipped gears, you and I.
A huge machine-created miracle immoral technological contraption
Put imperfectly together in the West.
Clanking along turning scraping slow-grinding down each other's mettle
Wear and tear and turning into junk.
Worlds ready to explode with the power of our contact.
Yellow, white and orange light blazing visions out across the sky
Illuminating our destruction as we demolish death.
Alien structures quake and falter
Are leveled crumbling to dust before the power
Power in the steady earth-refilling sound
Our footsteps make a path
Greening earth a New Way.
My body gathers up the sparks your vision gives off
Harbours all the cherished New Life of our dreams
Meadows turn green on either side of us as we walk by
(You do not see; your eyes are blinded by visionary sparks)
And trees nod new leaves to us as we go along the way
(You do not see)
Slipped gears. Imperfect contact.
Short-circuited the mechanism clanks along the way
I run clambering behind (you do not see).
The dream is good.
The vision lingers like an orange sunset
Spreading overflowing on each skyline of our New Attempts.
If we could just stop along the roadside long enough
Take it apart piece by piece
Looking anxious over our shoulder gleaming metal spread out all around us
Wondering how long
how long the orange sun will wait for us
to put it back together.
Slipped gears. (The dream is good).
Imperfect contact. (The vision lingers).
While black men stalk in circles blinded in the woods at night
We woman-wait by the roadside squatting
Our helpless hands filled with machinist tools
We do not understand
Our brimming eyes filled with sunset orange.
The dream is good.
The vision lingers.
The sun waits with us
And will not go down.
April 4, 1974
REFERENCE POINT: A BLACK WOMAN SPEAKS TO HER MAN (Final Draft)
Let leisure-time metaphysical gentlemen
Write sonnets to their lady-loves
About the wandering needle of the compass
And the fixed point that draws the needle
Ever back to rest.
We don't have the time.
(The brother said: It's Nation Time.
And Malcolm's body lies bleeding on the floor)
You and I, looking out the kitchen door
know the Gentle Knight was really shucking his Lady
Love in all that fine conceited Renaissance-Man language,
and a really into nuthin cat behind the frilly gestures.
But still . . .
A universal motivation lies encapsulated in the cultural
forms (there are such things as archetypal images)
And I, a woman
Define my being in your burning, faltering, dimming,
And cannot move, except you motivate me
And cannot radiate, except you fire me.
Putting the thing in proper perspective that is, talking
about our own black selves my man and our black life:
Then I would say
Without the frills and finery we never owned
That I am for you Black Man
A fixed planet.
A never-moving star on your horizon.
(Turn your head the same way toward each
morning; you'll see me there)
The tough and sometimes mad black nucleus around which
you describe ever-widening circles in never-ending spheres
of liberation. (I know your actions seem to take you farther
from me. But you are never really gone.
And your eyes are always fixed on me.
So go head on and do that
(The Brother said: It's Nation Time)
Tell time by me.
Grow big by me.
Through despair and hesitation, measure the estimation
of your manhood by me.
(You'll see it in my eyes.
Keep your gaze steady on them when your
circles begin to zigzag.)
Take what you need from me. I am self-renewing and self-generating
And I will be there intact tomorrow when you look up
at the day.
Adjust yourself to the rhythms of the cosmos
Orient yourself toward your Black Destiny
August 28, 1974