(06/01/2014) On The Passing of a Poet

Posted: May 31, 2014 in America, Amusements, History, Inheritance, Internet, Mourning, Public Forums, Purpose, TV
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Today, I share an acknowledgement of the contribution and works of the much loved African American scholar, teacher and writer, Dr. Maya Angelou (born Marguerite Annie Johnson).  As I was going through the checkout at a local grocery market, the cashier remarked on the news that the poetess had died, and asked whether I had ever met her.  Without also admitting I have no friends or family who share my interest in poetry, I confessed I had not, yet, had already finished a work in tribute.  We agreed, her passing should be received as a peculiar alarm, and call for re-commitment throughout the Nation.  The institutions that anchored and flavored our earlier survival are disappearing faster than the 25-cent rent party.  An even greater onslaught is on the way.  The most fitting and lasting memorial we may make is to carefully preserve the culture that has been the setting for her jewels of thought.


[Maya Angelou, 1928-2014]

Because it meant the passing of our greatness
As a people it was right the neighborhoods
Should mourn and wail
“The Drum” was more than a bookstore
And a “hangout” for the ones who felt
Their standard and their scale could be
Anchored in their Negritude
A vision of Pan African possibilities
The rebirth of all tribal truth and love
An oasis became a desert, where the voice of life was stilled
Soft sands became the foundation, the campfires were smothered
And the palms and waters salted into silence

We quietly accepted when the “Negro Digest” closed
Its open doors, and publishers of our magazines and newspapers
Like the little corner stores where mom and pop had challenged us
By hanging foreign cheeses that made the place to reek
One by one began to disappear, we could no longer speak
As if a culture, a collective, an ancient mind today
The self began to be released
And computer generations began to forge a new age
Of communication, of social media, of tweet and hash tag
Of see is worth a thousand say
A blitzkrieg of selfies, candids, still life, and portraits by Instagram

We must alert our children and our grandchildren
the race war we expected, and worked so hard to shun
By replacing “burn baby burn” with “learn baby learn”
Was waged in stealth, with quietness
the embers of the midnight sun the signs of soot
In the turnings of the wind
As if still ruled by plantations that separate all kin
The assault on home and family by divorce
Thug life, same sex protest, single-parent pain
Surely we should not lose this pillar of our people
With only tears to go against the grain
Without charging our children to start to live with purpose

Person to person, toe to toe, some things ought to never go
Our theaters darkened by idol Internet, reality TV
The falling of our stars, an “out of business” sign placed on display
We are losing the great ones, the institutions that nourished them gave them to us, and that they bequeathed to us to be our own
The Apollo, the Howard, the Lyric, the Regal
Radio stations and DJ personalities
Our world will become a ghost town
Filled with shadows that are known by going viral
On a global stage
Our casualties and losses are more than we can ignore
fatherhood, heritage, blues, and legacy
The anchors had when everyone was poor
our barbershops, our churches, the funeral parlors
a city of nomad tents against the storms

We mustn’t let the loss of one more scholar
Be the loss of our eternal wisdom too
For this is not a time for weeping, this is not a time to cry
The mall is not a refuge, nor the “burbs” a hiding place
There has to be a warning
Even more than a pledge to save what’s left
The caged bird now must sing her notes of jazz and song
to hold above the ruin while we rise
Challenged to create ourselves anew
We must hear with new ears and see with new eyes
Beyond all ivory towers, projects, ghetto dungeon walls
In Harlem renaissance from house to house

May this passing strike our daughters like a Muse to shower them
In history, with poetry and dance
May they now give birth to the architects of forever


Signature Mark


©Michael Andrew Williams, 2014.  All rights reserved.



There is a lot more to be said, carefully contemplated, and spiritually reflected on than simply what I’ve shared here in a poem.  Even so, I trust this fragment will be useful.  Be it unto you according to your faith and willingness to love.

But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.  Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord:  for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,  And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:  (Philippians 3:  7-9, KJV)

Washington, DC

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