Book 9: Black Feeling Black Talk (1968)–Nikki Giovanni

I always shy away from reading poetry and remember, after I force myself to sit down and read it, why: it’s harder than reading prose. But it’s often so much more gratifying so then I wonder why I don’t read more poetry. Nikki Giovanni has an inexplicable way of communicating so much with so few words that it makes you have to read it again. And again. She’s got this rhythm in her writing, and her word play is wild; she may change the spelling of one word in a sentence to give a double meaning that’s just so…(a sound would better explain what it feels like than a word, a grunt with pursed lips and an ugly face of both agreement and disgust).

I finished this in January, but after the Black Panther phenomenon of February, I think my timing with this post is right on.

Black Power
(For All the Beautiful Black Panthers East)

But the whole thing is a miracle–See?

We were just standing there
talking–not touching or smoking
When the cop told
Move along buddy–take your whores
outa here

And this tremendous growl
From out of nowhere
Pounced on him

Nobody to this very day
Can explain
How it happened

And none of the zoos or circuses
Within fifty miles
Had reported
A panther

A Historical Footnote to Consider Only When All Else Fails

While it is true
(though only in a factual sense)
That in a wake of a
Her-I-can comes a
Surely I am not
The gravitating force
that keeps this house
full of panthers

Why, LBJ has made it
quite clear to me
He doesn’t give a
Good goddamn what I think
(else why would he continue to masterbate in public?)

Rhythm and Blues is not
The downfall of a great civilization
And I expect you to
That the Temptations
have no connection with

We must move on to
the true issue of
Our time
like the mini-skirt
And perhaps take a
Closer look at
Flour Power

It is for US
to lead our people
out of the
into the streets
into the streets
(for safety reasons only)
Lord knows we don’t
Want to lose the
of our Jewish friends

So let us work
for our day of Presence
When Stokely is in
The Black House
And all will be right with
Our World