Amiri Baracka 1934 to 2014 The “Let’em Know Poet”

ImagePreface to a Twenty Volume Suicide Note

Lately, I’ve become accustomed to the way The ground opens up and envelopes me Each time I go out to walk the dog. Or the broad edged silly music the wind Makes when I run for a bus…
Things have come to that.
And now, each night I count the stars. And each night I get the same number. And when they will not come to be counted, I count the holes they leave.
Nobody sings anymore.
And then last night I tiptoed up To my daughter’s room and heard her Talking to someone, and when I opened The door, there was no one there… Only she on her knees, peeking into
Her own clasped hands

In Memory of Radio

Who has ever stopped to think of the divinity of Lamont Cranston?
(Only jack Kerouac, that I know of: & me.
The rest of you probably had on WCBS and Kate Smith,
Or something equally unattractive.)

What can I say?
It is better to haved loved and lost
Than to put linoleum in your living rooms?

Am I a sage or something?
Mandrake’s hypnotic gesture of the week?
(Remember, I do not have the healing powers of Oral Roberts…
I cannot, like F. J. Sheen, tell you how to get saved & rich!
I cannot even order you to the gaschamber satori like Hitler or Goddy Knight)

& love is an evil word.
Turn it backwards/see, see what I mean?
An evol word. & besides
who understands it?
I certainly wouldn’t like to go out on that kind of limb.

Saturday mornings we listened to the Red Lantern & his undersea folk.
At 11, Let’s Pretend
& we did
& I, the poet, still do. Thank God!

What was it he used to say (after the transformation when he was safe
& invisible & the unbelievers couldn’t throw stones?) “Heh, heh, heh.
Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows.”

O, yes he does
O, yes he does
An evil word it is,
This Love.

Notes For a Speech

African blues
does not know me. Their steps, in sands
of their own
land. A country
in black & white, newspapers
blown down pavements
of the world. Does
not feel
what I am.


in the dream, an oblique
suckling of nerve, the wind
throws up sand, eyes
are something locked in
hate, of hate, of hate, to
walk abroad, they conduct
their deaths apart
from my own. Those
heads, I call
my “people.”


“A closed window looks down                                  on a dirty courtyard, and Black people                                call across or scream across or walk across                                 defying physics in the stream of their will.
Our world is full of sound                                  Our world is more lovely than anyone’s                                     tho we suffer, and kill each other                                    and sometimes fail to walk the air.
We are beautiful people                                        With African imaginations                                full of masks and dances and swelling chants                                  with African eyes, and noses, and arms                                  tho we sprawl in gray chains in a place                                full of winters, when what we want is sun.
We have been captured,                                  and we labor to make our getaway, into                                      the ancient image; into a new
Correspondence with ourselves                                   and our Black family. We need magic                                    now we need the spells, to raise up                                  return, destroy,and create. What will be
the sacred word?

(And who are they. People. To concern

myself, ugly man. Who
you, to concern
the white flat stomachs
of maidens, inside houses
dying. Black. Peeled moon
light on my fingers
move under
her clothes. Where
is her husband. Black
words throw up sand
to eyes, fingers of
their private dead. Whose
soul, eyes, in sand. My color
is not theirs. Lighter, white man
talk. They shy away. My own
dead souls, my, so called
people. Africa
is a foreign place. You are
as any other sad man here

from Modern American Poets Online


2 thoughts on “Amiri Baracka 1934 to 2014 The “Let’em Know Poet”

  1. Does Wow, explain my feeling to these words… I’m going to have to Google this man and his words… an intense looking man with words on his mind that are seeping out of his soul… left me rather shell shocked in thought… loved the sound of music the wind makes as he runs…

    with our thoughts we create,
    a world to belong,
    James xx

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