You Don’t Speak For Me

Enough! You don’t speak for me!
Vulgar and disrespectful Rap
does not make up enough
of a cross-section
to represent
the African-American demographic.
One small, albeit loud, percentage
of rap holding woman in low regard;
referring to other African-Americans as niggers;
while vocalizing little if any respect for others
and their property.
Enough! You don’t speak for me!

How dare you fix your lips to say
“nigger” isn’t disrespectful
as long as a Black man says it;
Hiding behind “freedom of expression;”
no less than the slave tyrants
who formed this nation
under less than equal opportunities.
How could you speak for me?
You’re to ignorant too even know your a plant!
Who do you really represent?
Surely not the Sojourner Truth’s!
Surely not the Benjamin Banneker’s!
Surely not the Martin Luther King’s and Malcolm X’s
who had more respect holding up a middle finger
than you do in your entire monologue.
Surely not the Andrew Beard’s
and George Washington Carver’s
without which the American Industrial Revolution would not have come
and most of us would have starved!

Were the trials and tribulations of our people lost to you?
Did you miss that piece of history
where people fought and died so you and I could share
water fountains and bus seats?!
Or are you so unappreciative and ignorant to think
you earned your “bling, bling” on your own?!
Silly rabbit, tricks are for kids
and you have proven you never grew up
and will probably die 200 pounds foolish
and 60 years mentally enslaved
because that freedom you think is dressed in all that money
ain’t nothin’ but a bigger cage
and you never even left the plantation!

© 2007 John M. Swails

Jazz Stanzas

Jazz Stanzas

The wolves may huff and puff
but they ain’t got nothing on
apple sized cheeks
that blew sounds just as sweet
as the juice.

It don’t mean a thing
if you don’t take the A train
and hear the lady from baltimore
with the sanitizing stench of bleach on her
from scrubbing those damn white steps.
From lady’s maid to lady day
from the whorehouse to
covering the waterfront
until finally
it was heroin, not her man
that had lady singing the blues.

A trumpeter walks in front of a horse
leading a perennial procession for you.
That’s the image that comes to mind
when I think of you.
Your smile derided.
Your character declared a caricature
but Ghana loved you.
You were pops to the world.

In a mining township
a hundred miles from Johannesburg
exposed to jazz, traditional music
and apartheid
a horn player was growing up.
In a jim-crow dominated township
it was designed to be impossible
to graze in the grass
but somehow
you did.

And now, it is said
we don’t love the music.
Our faces are not in the audiences
of those who carry it on.
Our dollars aren’t spent on it.
We have allowed it to leave
and because of that
it no longer belongs to us.

But this is simply not true.

© 2004 Tichaona Chinyelu

Ménage a Trois

Man: It was evil.
Woman: It was insidious.

Man/Woman (together): We each thought it was the other until it spoke to us
in our own voices and then we knew we had a vampire.

It flew at us like the past, made a mockery of the future we

Man: Had me thinking she wasn’t the sky I flew in.

Woman: Had me thinking he wasn’t the rock I stood on.

Man/Woman (together): Had us thinking we were each other’s enemy.

Man: Loaded and cocked. My words were fists.

Woman: Stealth bomber. Appeared out of nowhere. Disappeared into pain.

Man: I lost my job.

Woman: I got a promotion.

Man: Attitude problems. I spoke a black man’s language.

Woman: There’s a time and a place. Mouths to feed.

Man/Woman: That’s when it bit.

Man: Damn mosquitoes…

Woman: …sucking our blood.

Man: I slapped at them.

Woman: I sprayed repellant.

Man/Woman: But it wasn’t mosquitoes. Our blood was being drained.

Vampire: The blood was rich. Full of love and life. They had no right to it.
I made it mine. Became big and strong. Starting eyeing the children.
Classic albatross.

Man/Woman: We stood looking at the couple in the mirror.

Woman: Lean.

Man: Fighting lean.

Man: Fuck this shit.

Woman: My name’s not Kendra.

Man: You love me?

Woman: I love you.

Man: You ready?

Woman: I’m ready.

Weaver Woman

I weave words
like a west african market woman
selling you my vision, my mangoes, my papayas
even my coconuts.
My finished product can be held up to the sun
illuminated, made to shine.

The skins of my poems have been submerged in mud
then laid at the bottom of the baobob tree to dry
like mudcloth.
The blood of my poems can be as dry as the sahara
as wet as monsoons
as cutting as a machete in the hands of the mau mau.

I weave blood into my words:
red blood, dried blood, young blood.
An oversaturation of blood decorates my words
makes them pulse red.
My words hang from trees
like the bitterest kind of strange fruit.
My words find the peruvian revolutionaries
murdered while hogtied
and then buried in criminal secrecy.
My words were inspired by rigoberta menchu.

I roots rock reggae with my words
have them jamming to the heart beat rhythm
of the warmest music.
The fabric of my words is at its lightest
when they’re in the dancehall or the yard.
My words sweep over people
like the softest caribbean breezes.
My words will have you dreaming of blue skies
white sands and coral reefs

and while you’re dreaming
i weave black people into my words
and i am done.
My finished product can be held up to the sun
illuminated, made to shine.

© 2005 Tichaona Chinyelu

A Lifetime, A Reason, or A Season

I once read a book that said the people you come across throughout your life fall into three categories:
A lifetime,
A Reason,
A Season.

Someone with only a reason for being in your life
Is there to provide you with guidance or support,
Help you physically,
or spiritally.
Or show you how to appreciate life
And what
Or who
You have in it.
When their time with you is over,
They’ll continue on their way.
Time with you was meant to be brief,
There’s nothing you can do or say.

A seasonal being is there to teach you an important lesson,
About yourself
Or about life.
They can bring you joy
Or pain,
And an experience you’ve yet to encounter before them.
But just as life begins to bud on trees in Springtime,
And vibrantly swaying in the midst of the warm breeze of Summer,
Then fading slowing in beauty while dangling in the Fall,
And and finally dying off in Winter
The person ends their time with you,
Sometimes without notice or reason.
Ending your relationship forever,
Because they were only there for a season.

Lifetime people teach lifetime lessons
Throughout your time on earth.
These are people that you love
Who you try trust
And who you accept,
Flaws and all.

Think you know…

We are always quick to say what we know we’d do if a particular situation were to occur,
But what happens when it happens?
Do you stick to your preliminary plan?
Think twice and take an unexpected route?
Until you come face to face with the situation,
You don’t know what will be your action.
Until you experience the encounter,
You’ll never know for sure.


Someday, Baby

Mama, mama
Will I ever grow up
Like the lady on TV–
She’s strong, proud and tough
Have my opinion respected,
My voice widely heard
You think maybe, just maybe,
“Someday, baby”.

Mama, mam
Will there be a time
When I can open a hospital
And help all humankind
To help all people enjoy life
Whether they have money or not
You think maybe, just maybe,
“Someday, baby.”

Mama, mama
Will there come a day
When I’ll be cloaked all in white
And you’ll give me away
To the man of our dreams
He’ll cherish me so
You think maybe, just maybe.
“Someday, baby.”

Mama, mama
Will I live to see
The day we’ll all be as one
And live in harmony?
Not in fear, but in love
The way God intended
You think maybe, just maybe,
“Someday, baby.”

If you let me

May i please intrude upon your heart?
I know someone was there before me
and could possibly still have some of her belongings there.
But its OK. I know when the time is right, you will clear her things away.

Let me help you along the way
Let me listen to you talk about everything, and nothing at all
Let me watch you grow into a better person, from lessons learned of life and love
Let me allow you to rest your head on my lap as we watch TV
Let me help you to make new memories
Let me remind you how good love can be
Let me let you inside of me

I don’t want to push the issue
but there is something there
something that would not allow me
to see you down this way

Let me see what this something was pushing me to
Let me hypnotize you with my scent, and intrigue you with my mind
Let me help you along the way
Allow your heart to beat with mine
in tune
in rhythm
on time
Let me hold you close so you can feel me melting onto you

We both have a past
but that is where it needs to stay
back there
We both have a present
and here we are
let me help you make our future

I know pain dwells inside of you
but my pleasure can feel so much better
trust me
I can make this all go away
If you let me