Presidential Griot, a poem by Mbizo Chirasha and your next Wednesday Writing Prompt

Courtesy of Kevin Nice, Unsplash

“Human rights don’t trickle down.” Heather Marsh, Binding Chaos: Mass collaboration on a global scale



Sometimes memories smell like a dictator’s fart
We once jived to our own shadows under the silver moon and our shadows
danced along with us, we rhymed to the nightmares of hyenas and
hallucinations of black owls. Our desires sailed along with gowns of
fog back and forth at village dawns. Wood smoke smelt like fresh baked
bread. Time bewitched us, we ate William Shakespeare and John Donne.
We drank lemon jugs of Langston Hughes and Maya Angelou.
Soyinka’s lyrical whisky wrecked our tender nerves.
We bedded politics with boyish demeanor and dreamt of the black
cockerels and black Hitler’s
Sometimes time is stubborn like a sitting tyrant
Last night, commissars chanted a slogan and you baked a dictator’s
poetry sanguage. Zealots sang Castro and Stalin and you brewed a
socialist crank, the president is a stinking capitalist. I never said
he is Satanist. Back to village nights, hyenas are laughing still,
black owls gossiping, silver moon dancing still over rain beaten paths
of our country dawns.
Sometimes time stinks like a dictator’s fart
Your lyrical satire sneaked imbeciles through back doors. Your praise
sonnets recycled suicidal devils and polished revolutionary rejects
Back then, smells of fresh dung and scent of fresh udder milk were our
morning brew and under the twilight the moon once disappeared into the
earthly womb, Judas, the sun then took over and every dictator is an
Iscariot.
I never said we are now vagabonds
Sometimes time smells like a dying autocrat
Mwedzi wagara ndira uyo tigo tigo ndira – the moon was once sour milk
silver white and fresh from the Gods’ mouth and sat on its
presidential throne on the zenith of bald headed hills and later with
time the moon was ripe to go mwedzi waora ndira tigo tigo ndira
Sometimes wind gusts whistled their tenor through elephant grass
pastures, we sang along the obedient flora Chamupupuri icho…oo
chamupupuri chaenda chamupupuri chadzoka
Chamupupuri icho…oo!
Our poverty marinated , yellow maize teeth grinned to sudden glows of
lightening, the earth gyrated under the grip of thunder, then Gods
wept and we drank teardrops with a song mvura ngainaye tidye makavu ,
mvura ngainaye tidye makavu .. Pumpkins bred like rabbits, veldts
strutted in Christmas gowns. Wild bees and green bombers sang protest
and praise. I never said we are children of drought relief.
Sometimes time grows old like a sitting tyrant,
Tonight the echo of your praise poetry irk the anopheles stranded in
tired city gutters to swig the bitter blood of ghetto dwellers, gutter
citizens eking hard survival from hard earth of a hard country , their
rough hands marked with scars of the August Armageddon , their sandy
hearts are rigged ballot boxes stuffed with corruption ,they waited
and sang for so long .
Chamupupuri icho…oo chamupupuri chaenda
chamupupuri icho…oo chamupupuri chadzoka
Chamupupuri icho..oo

© 2020, Mbizo Chirasha

Thanks to Zimbabwean poet in exile, Mbizo Chirasha, for hosting this week’s prompt.  Just a reminder to readers: Mbizo is still in search of safe harbor and we continue to seek a host in Germany or other viable state. If you can help or have leads, please email me at thepoetbyday@gmail.com

WEDNESDAY WRITING PROMPT

Mbizo invites us to write a poem or poems that are anti-corruption in government.

  • please submit your poem/s by pasting them into the comments section and not by sharing a link
  • please submit poems only, no photos, illustrations, essays, stories, or other prose

PLEASE NOTE:

Poems submitted through email or Facebook will not be published.

IF this is your first time joining us for The Poet by Day, Wednesday Writing Prompt, please send a brief bio and photo to me at thepoetbyday@gmail.com to introduce yourself to the community … and to me :-). These are partnered with your poem/s on first publication.

PLEASE send the bio ONLY if you are with us on this for the first time AND only if you have posted a poem (or a link to one of yours) on theme in the comments section below.  

Deadline:  Monday, February 24 by 8 pm Pacific Time. If you are unsure when that would be in your time zone, check The Time Zone Converter.

Anyone may take part Wednesday Writing Prompt, no matter the status of your career: novice, emerging or pro.  It’s about exercising the poetic muscle, showcasing your work, and getting to know other poets who might be new to you.

You are welcome – encouraged – to share your poems in a language other than English but please accompany it with a translation into English.


Jamie Dedes:

Your donation HERE helps to fund the ongoing mission of The Poet by Day in support of poets and writers, freedom of artistic expression, and human rights.

Poetry rocks the world!



FEEL THE BERN

For Peace, Sustainability, Social Justice

The Poet by Day officially endorses Bernie Sanders for President.

The New New Deal

Link HERE for Bernie’s schedule of events around the country.

“Democracy is not a spectator sport.” Bernie Sanders



“Every pair of eyes facing you has probably experienced something you could not endure.”  Lucille Clifton

Nearly one million driven from their homes into the cold …

Courtesy of Gabriele Fangi, Wissam Wahbeh – “The destroyed minaret of the Umayyad mosque of Aleppo after its destruction in 2013 / under CC BY 3.0

“In Syria, only one pocket of resistance to the Assad regime remains, in Idlib province. But since late last year, Assad’s military has been relentlessly attacking the region, and now, nearly a million people have been forced from their homes in the freezing cold. In a war defined by displacement, this is the largest movement of people in the entire years-long conflict.” Nick Schifrin reports this evening for PBS Newshour MORE



The Doves Have Flown

what must it be like for you in your part of the world?
there is only silence, i don’t know your name, i know only
that the fire of Life makes us one in this, the human journey,
trudging through mud, by land and by sea, reaching for the sun
like entering a ritual river without a blessing or a prayer
on the street where you lived, your friends are all gone
the houses are crushed and the doves have flown
there is only silence, no children playing, no laughter
here and there a light remains to speak to us of loneliness,
yet our eyes meet in secret, our hearts open on the fringe,
one breath and the wind blows, one tear and the seas rise,
your tears drip from my eyes and i tremble with your fear

© 2016, Jamie Dedes


Jamie DedesAbout /Testimonials / Disclosure / Facebook / Medium Ko-fi

Your donation HERE helps to fund the ongoing mission of The Poet by Day in support of poets and writers, freedom of artistic expression, and human rights.

Poetry rocks the world!



FEEL THE BERN

For Peace, Sustainability, Social Justice

The Poet by Day officially endorses Bernie Sanders for President.

The New New Deal

Link HERE for Bernie’s schedule of events around the country.

“Democracy is not a spectator sport.” Bernie Sanders



“Every pair of eyes facing you has probably experienced something you could not endure.”  Lucille Clifton

Claude McKay, Gifted Writer of the Harlem Renaissance (1918-mid-1930s); “If We Must Die”

Photo of the poet, novelist and short story writer Claude McKay

“I know the dark delight of being strange, The penalty of difference in the crowd, The loneliness of wisdom among fools . . . ” Claude McKay



If We Must Die

If we must die, let it not be like hogs
Hunted and penned in an inglorious spot,
While round us bark the mad and hungry dogs,
Making their mock at our accursèd lot.
If we must die, O let us nobly die,
So that our precious blood may not be shed
In vain; then even the monsters we defy
Shall be constrained to honor us though dead!
O kinsmen! we must meet the common foe!
Though far outnumbered let us show us brave,
And for their thousand blows deal one death-blow!
What though before us lies the open grave?
Like men we’ll face the murderous, cowardly pack,
Pressed to the wall, dying, but fighting back!

– Claude McKay

Mckay says of this sonnet that it is ” … a poem that makes me a poet among colored Americans.” Nonetheless, it is a poem that inspires many of the world’s peoples in their struggles for justice. Though The Poet by Day does not endorse violence, the poem is shared today because of  – among other things – its historic significance. It was published in the July 1919 issue of The Liberator. McKay wrote the poem as a response to mob attacks by white Americans upon African-American communities during Red Summer (1919). The poem was reprinted in The Messenger and the Workers’ Dreadnought (London) later that year. The poem was also read to Congress that year by Henry Cabot Lodge, the Republican Senator from Massachusetts. Wallace Thurman considered the poem as embodying the essence of the “New Negro*” movement as it was not aimed at arousing sympathy, but rather consisted of self-assertion. The poem was recited in the film August 28: A Day in the Life of a People and during Episode 3, Season 4 of The Man in the High Castle (TV series) (air date of November 15th, 2019) prior to a dangerous mission against an authoritarian regime. 

* “The New Negro”, a term of the Harlem Renaissance implying an assertive advocacy of dignity and a refusal to submit quietly to the practices and laws of Jim Crow racial segregation.  

Portrait of McKay in 1920 / Public Domain

CLAUDE McKAY (1889-1948) was a Jamaican writer and poet, a seminal figure in the Harlem Renaissance. He wrote five novels including: Home to Harlem (1928), a best-seller that won the Harmon Gold Award for Literature, Banjo (1929), Banana Bottom (1933), and in 1941 a manuscript called Amiable With Big Teeth: A Novel of the Love Affair Between the Communists and the Poor Black Sheep of Harlem which remained unpublished until 2017. McKay also authored collections of poetry, a collection of short stories, Gingertown (1932), two autobiographical books, A Long Way from Home (1937) and My Green Hills of Jamaica (published posthumously in 1979), and a non-fiction, socio-historical treatise entitled Harlem: Negro Metropolis (1940). His 1922 poetry collection, Harlem Shadows, was among the first books published during the Harlem Renaissance. His Selected Poems was published posthumously, in 1953.

McKay also wrote Romance in Marselle, recently unearthed after ninety years in archive and published this year by Penguin Classics. It ” traces the adventures of a rowdy troupe of dockworkers, prostitutes, and political organizers–collectively straight and queer, disabled and able-bodied, African, European, Caribbean, and American. Set largely in the culture-blending Vieux Port of Marseille at the height of the Jazz Age,” The publisher calls it, “The pioneering novel of physical disability, transatlantic travel, and black international politics. A vital document of black modernism and one of the earliest overtly queer fictions in the African American tradition.” McKay never came out but it is widely believed that he was bisexual.

McKay with Grigory Zinoviev and Nikolai Bukharin in 1923 / Public Domain

McKay was attracted to communism in his early life though he asserted that he never became a member of the Communist Party USA. Some scholars dispute this claim, due to his close ties to active members, his attendance at communist-led events, and his months-long stay in the Soviet Union in 1922–23, which he wrote about very favorably. Over time McKay became disillusioned with communism. By the mid-1930s had begun to write negatively about it. By the late 1930s his anti-Stalinism isolated him from other Harlem intellectuals. In 1942 he converted to Catholicism and left Harlem. He worked for a Catholic organization until his death.

This post was complied with material from my bookshelf, Wikipedia, Amazon, and YouTube. I believe that McKay’s poems are all in the public domain at this point.  HIs U.S. Amazon Page is HERE.


Jamie DedesAbout /Testimonials / Disclosure / Facebook / Medium Ko-fi

Your donation HERE helps to fund the ongoing mission of The Poet by Day in support of poets and writers, freedom of artistic expression, and human rights.

Poetry rocks the world!



FEEL THE BERN

For Peace, Sustainability, Social Justice

The Poet by Day officially endorses Bernie Sanders for President.

The New New Deal

Link HERE for Bernie’s schedule of events around the country.

“Democracy is not a spectator sport.” Bernie Sanders



“Every pair of eyes facing you has probably experienced something you could not endure.”  Lucille Clifton

through the ache of time, a poem . . . and your next Wednesday Writing Prompt

Courtesy of Greg Rakozy, Unsplash

“To love. To be loved. To never forget your own insignificance. To never get used to the unspeakable violence and the vulgar disparity of life around you. To seek joy in the saddest places. To pursue beauty to its lair. To never simplify what is complicated or complicate what is simple. To respect strength, never power. Above all, to watch. To try and understand. To never look away. And never, never to forget.” Arundhati Roy, The Cost of Living



see it moving – Life!
moving through the ache of time
seeking that place
where identity isn’t worn on a sleeve,
where individuals challenge the tribe,
where beauty frees itself from convention,
where the chains of fear dissolve

© 2020, Jamie Dedes

WEDNESDAY WRITING PROMPT

What do you think Life seeks to express through us?  Tell us in your own poem/s and …

  • please submit your poem/s by pasting them into the comments section and not by sharing a link
  • please submit poems only, no photos, illustrations, essays, stories, or other prose

PLEASE NOTE:

Poems submitted through email or Facebook will not be published.

IF this is your first time joining us for The Poet by Day, Wednesday Writing Prompt, please send a brief bio and photo to me at thepoetbyday@gmail.com to introduce yourself to the community … and to me :-). These are partnered with your poem/s on first publication.

PLEASE send the bio ONLY if you are with us on this for the first time AND only if you have posted a poem (or a link to one of yours) on theme in the comments section below.  

Deadline:  Monday, February 17 by 8 pm Pacific Time. If you are unsure when that would be in your time zone, check The Time Zone Converter.

Anyone may take part Wednesday Writing Prompt, no matter the status of your career: novice, emerging or pro.  It’s about exercising the poetic muscle, showcasing your work, and getting to know other poets who might be new to you.

You are welcome – encouraged – to share your poems in a language other than English but please accompany it with a translation into English.


Jamie DedesAbout /Testimonials / Disclosure / Facebook / Medium Ko-fi

Your donation HERE helps to fund the ongoing mission of The Poet by Day in support of poets and writers, freedom of artistic expression, and human rights.

Poetry rocks the world!



FEEL THE BERN

For Peace, Sustainability, Social Justice

The Poet by Day officially endorses Bernie Sanders for President.

The New New Deal

Link HERE for Bernie’s schedule of events around the country.

“Democracy is not a spectator sport.” Bernie Sanders



“Every pair of eyes facing you has probably experienced something you could not endure.”  Lucille Clifton