Featured Work 4

03 January 2017 / By admin


Featured work of Haki Madhubuti

Gwendolyn Brooks

she doesn’t wear

costume jewelry

& she knew that walt disney

was/is making a fortune off

false-eyelashes and that time magazine is the

authority on the knee/grow.

her makeup is total-real.


a negro english instructor called her:

       “a fine negro poet.”

a whi-te critic said:

       “she’s a credit to the negro race.”

somebody else called her;

       “a pure negro writer.”

johnnie mae, who’s a senior in high school said:

       “she and Langston are the only negro poets we’ve

       read in school and i understand her.”

pee wee used to carry one of her poems around in his

    back pocket;

       the one about being cool. that was befo pee wee

       was cooled by a cop’s warning shot.


into the sixties

a word was born . . . . . . . . BLACK

& with black came poets

& from the poet’s ball points came:

black doubleblack purpleblack blueblack beenblack was

black daybeforeyesterday blackerthan ultrablack super

black blackblack yellowblack niggerblack blackwhi-te-


blackthanyoueverbes ¼ black unblack coldblack clear

black my momma’s blackerthanyourmomma pimpleblack


black so black we can’t even see you black on black in

black by black technically black mantanblack winter

black coolblack 360degreesblack coalblack midnight

black black when it’s convenient rustyblack moonblack

black starblack summerblack electronblack spaceman

black shoeshineblack jimshoeblack underwearblack ugly

black auntjimammablack, uncleben’srice black


black blackisbeautifulblack i justdiscoveredblack negro

black unsubstanceblack.


and everywhere the

lady “negro poet”

appeared the poets were there.

they listened & questioned

& went home feeling uncomfortable/unsound & so-


they read/re-read/wrote & rewrote

& came back the next time to tell the

lady “negro poet”

how beautiful she was/is & how she helped them

& she came back with:

       how necessary they were and how they’ve helped her.

the poets walked & as space filled the vacuum between

       them & the

lady “negro poet”

u could hear one of the blackpoets say:

       “bro, they been calling that sister by the wrong name.”


Haki Madhubuti, “Gwendolyn Brooks” from Don’t Cry, Scream © 1969 by Haki R. Madhubuti. Used by permission of Third World Press, Chicago, IL.

Source: Don’t Cry Scream (Third World Press, 1969)

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