Three Poems by Dael Orlandersmith

BOMB 45 Fall 1993
045 Fall 1993

What the British Bluez Boyz Dream

     124th st. & back door nigger rhythm (not the rhythm M.
Jagger wants) like, anachronistic jigaboos do the
’Boogaloo’or the ‘Shingaling’ or a ‘gal named Daisy’ who
twists ‘w/Lucy’, doin’ the ‘Chicken bone’ Boogie.
     What I’m talkin’ about is a extended jazz blues riff. A
bloody cotton balled syringed scum/cum nightmare where
would be B.B. Kings & broken D notes lay face down on urine-
soaked sidewalks next to a half mad useta be Voodoo Queen.
     I mean this is no British school boy guitar solo trying
to tongue a lynched man’s blues w/a No. 9 dream or a mini-
skirt mob on Carnaby St. w/Frosted Lips and Frozen poses
gettin’ ready for the next high-heeled new wave riot.
     And that sister on the corner, she ain’t no dancer. She
just stole 5 dollars & has this rap about feeding her kids
as she nods / land of 1000 nods and rubs a wanting to explode
abscess.
     I mean this is no moonshine shack w/the
out house in the back w/Black girls in cotton dresses with
swollen vulvas beatin’ tambourines & singin’ back-up vocals
tryin’ to summon up half of ‘dat ole time religion’ & half
Mephisto while some leather clad limey boy w/fretted fingers
looking like a spazzed out Jesus begs for a soul kiss & rides
black ass.
     Later, he’ll wash himself furiously then stand
     Clean.
     Purified.
     Immaculate.
     And as for the colored girls,
     (they don’t always sing)
     And as for the colored girls,
     (they don’t always wanna sing Doo da Doo da Doo)
     And as for the the colored girls,
     They don’t always wanna sing
     The bluez.

 

Evangeline

Evangeline alwavs crouched in the fetal position.
She tried to hide from lightskinned girls whose oblong faces held
tongues sharper than a
butcher’s knife
& w/them they carried constant poses of would-be assassins
Mounds of hair hung meticulously on their quivering shoulders
and in their light feathery hands they held “Now N Later”
candy, “Holiday Potato Chips,” & “Sun E Boy Pumpkin seeds.”
They would stuff handfuls of pumpkin seeds in their small mouths
& spit the empty
shells at Evangeline, who scrambled open armed to catch them
to catch the soft spit-covered shells from the mouths of
lightskinned girls who unlike
herself laughed and cursed through wafer thin lips & who didn’t
drop to their knees begging
God to change them.
They would dance the “double dutch” “hopscotch” & “Pizza Pizza
Daddy O” on chalky sidewalks.
Evangeline held close to those shells & placed them in a small
box next to the cadaver
she & her father made when he forced her legs apart.
And when she tried to tell, no one would believe this child so dark
w/thick black lips who peeped
through windows & crouched in corners.
This sordid collector of stained secrets,
all kept in a small black box.

 

The Poet
(for Patricia Smith)

    There have always been bars called “The 5 Spot” ” The
High Hat” “The Club Lido” “The Princess Lounge” and “The
Dew Drop Inn.” And in these bars there have always been Black
women with with their full buttocks hugging barstools as they
listened to their sisters scream the blues from smoked-filled
stages. “He’s my Honey Man Blues,” “He beats me but I still
love him” blues, “You can mess with my husband but don’t you
mess with my man” blues.
    And there have always been young Black girls standing
outside by the bars’ airvents trying to inhale the scent of
cologne and perfume from these fast men and women.
    And these girls dreamed of talking to dangerous men who
basked in gangster lean poses while stroking razor straps. And
these girls also dreamed of “Slow drag” music and soft, sweet
boys like in a Smokey Robinson song with promises of forever
love and total devotion.
    These girls huddled in clusters with upturned collars
battling Chicago winds and their own brand of loneliness.
    Shared but denied.
    Felt but unspoken.
    Their stances, gentle but guarded.
    Then one reached towards me on a Sunday afternoon in
September with her small head and somehow conjured up God
through her fingers and directed him to me …
    Softly.

Dael Orlandersmith is a poet, actor, and playwright. She has written two plays, Liar, Liar and Monster.

Brooklyn Moon Cafe Poets by Zoë Anglesey

Originally published in

BOMB 45, Fall 1993

Featuring interviews with Gus Van Sant, Trisha Brown, Bernard Cooper, Francine Prose by Deborah Eisenberg, Mike Bidlo, Rob Weiss, Han Ong, Chen Kaige, Lawrence Chua, and Garry Lang.

Read the issue
045 Fall 1993