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215 A SONG FOR LEROI JONES/AMIRI BARAKA Karl W. Carter, Jr They said you blew up America With verse and words no one dared speak A poet laureate politics sought to silence, Whose robes were decked With Obe awards, Fellowships Voice blown to the wind The chant of America’s dirge remained forever ratlling in an empty bowl filled with forgotten promises The told me you were the Dutchman a sailor on a doomed Ship of state A griot calling to us that we are a beautiful people To write poems that were mirrors of our souls That sang of our passage through this vale of tears They told me you were our memoir, A wandering with the Beat Generation, A twenty volume preface to a suicide note Counting the holes stars left in the sky Hearing voices in the rooms next door As we prayed into our folded chained hands Our own music brought you home To the recognition of our own natural selves Blues People singing in the shadows Weeping in the shade of the willow tree You were our Leon Damas telling us We looked ridiculous In their clothes their manners their politics Telling us we were Fresh Zombies stinking in neon House nigger crazies 216 dragging behind them that thumping horrible sound Which was not music, not drums, but shuffling Our Aime Cesaire Waiting for us at the end of daybreak we who were the vomit of slave ships Alone imprisoned in the whiteness of a scream caught at the top of a dry stalk Standing up to the waters of the sky Calling us to return to our native land But now, now that you are gone they tell me that you belonged with Langston Hughes, Fredrick Douglas Richard Wright, or Zora Neal Hurston Now that you are gone they sing Your praises, pour libations in your name Now that you are gone I will remember your words that we have been captured that we labor to make a gateway into the ancient image, the new that we are in search of the sacred word Freedom ...


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