Monthly Archives: April 2015

National Poetry Month 2015, Week Five: Sheree Mack’s “Called Witness”

Scott Edward Anderson's Poetry Blog

c) 2012 Alastair Cook Sheree Mack c) 2012 Alastair Cook

Every month it seems there is another flashpoint of tensions between police and black communities in cities around the United States.

From Ferguson to Baltimore, our country seems ready to tear at the seams from a volatile combination of racial prejudice, police militarism, and the systemic poverty and disenfranchisement black people feel in America today.

It is impossible to ignore this critical issue of our day – we ignore it at our peril – even in a forum such as this.

In that light, I asked poet Sheree Mack if I could feature one of her poems for this final week of National Poetry Month.  I was thinking we’d choose one from her remarkable new book, Laventille, which I’ve just started reading.

But Sheree asked if I’d rather have a new poem, one where she is trying “to get my head around the issue…

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Music of the African Child by Poet AnnyRazon Justin

I am not a silent poet

Beauty must be jagged- like Jos in rocks
Hair must be weeds- in Bantu farmlands
Cheeks puffy; puffs of the forest breeze
Blown all over innocence
Turgid, manioc induced beri-beri
With the air of freedom slung around necks
Of Innocence, the Child of Africa stood
In oblivion, lacking discernment
Tomorrow’s disasters still hanging unknown
In thick blankets of hearts’ darkness.

Our future must be rugged- sculpted in Harmattan gales
Xenophobic, Genocidal trickles- down Nile Rift Valley
Insurgent, resurgent bouts of Terror
Ephemeral! Murderer of innocence
The child of Africa bleeding bloody eyes
Plasmolized, in hunger and refugee camps
Uncertainty beginning to reveal in depths
Deepened acts of premeditated abominations
Blankets spread over the “Heart of Darkness”

Africa erupts with uncertainty- Volcanoes of Virunga
Reversal of circulations- the Nile through Victoria
Fouta d’Jalon pumped back from the Niger
Rivers fouled by bloods of Black brotherhood
Bloods smell of Racial Martyrdom
Slaughtered…

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