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Ntozake Shange

Serene, intent, gentle in form; but; hardened in purpose to let no injustice go un-noticed; beauty bare the poet is
WHAT DO YOU BELIEVE A POEM SHD DO? quiet simply a poem shd fill you up with something/ cd make you swoon, stop in yr tracks, change yr mind, or make it up. a poem shd happen to you like cold water or a kiss. Please note: The editor appologises that the font for the titles of Ntosake's poems can "only" approximate the bold, yet simple elegance used in her book. Alzso note: The text used in her book is not strictly kerned (as is the text upon this page)...... To make up for this, I offer this footnote: "Nappy Edges -- the roots of your hair/ what turns back when we seeat, run, make love, dance, get afraid, get happy: the tel-tale sign of living/"

my father is a retired magician

(for ifa, p.t., & bisa) my father is a retired magician which accounts for my irregular behaviour everythin comes outa comes outta magic hats or bottles wit no bottoms & parakeets are as easy to get as a couple a rabbits or 3 fifty cent pieces/ 1958 my daddy retired from magic & took up another trade cuz this friend of mine from the 3rd grade asked to be made white on the spot what cd any self-respectin colored american magician do wit such a outlandish request/ cept put all them razzmatazz hocus pocus zippity-do-dah thingamajigs away cuz colored children believin in magic waz becomin politcally dangerous for the race & waznt nobody gonna be made white on the spot just from a clap of my daddy's hands & the reason i'm so peculiar's cuz i been studyin up on my daddy's technique & everythin i do is magic these days & it's very colored very now you see it/ now you dont mess with me I come from a family of retired sorcerers/ active houngans & pennyante fortune tellers wit 41 million spirts critturs & celestial bodies on our side i'll listen to yr problems help wit yr career yr lover yr wandering spouse make yr grandma's stay in heaven more gratifyin ease yr mother thru menopause & show yr son how to clean his room YES YES YES 3 wishes is all you get scarlet ribbons for yr hair benwa balls via hong kong a miniature of machu picchu all things are possible but aint no colored magician in her right mind gonna make you white i mean this is blk magic you lookin at & i'm fixin you up good/ fixin you up good n colored & you gonna be colored all yr life & you conna love it/ bein colored/ all yr life/ colored & love it love it/ bein colored/ SPELL #7 FROM UPNORTH-OUTWEST GEECHEE JIBARA QUIK MAGIC TRANCE MANUAL FOR TECNHOLOGICALLY STRESSED THIRD WORLD PEOPLE

with no immediate cause

every 3 minutes a woman is beaten every five minutes a woman is raped/ every ten minutes a lil girl is molested yet i rode the subway today i sat next to an old man who may have beaten his old wife 3 minutes ago or 3 days/ 30 years ago he might have sodomized his dauger but i sat there cuz the young men on the train might beat some young women later in the day or tomorrow i might not shut my door fast enuf/ push hard enuf every 3 minutes it happens some womaan's innocence rushes to her cheeks/ purse from her mouth like the betsy wetsy dolls have been torn apart/ their mouths mensis red & split/ every three minutes a shoulder is jammed through plaster & the oven door/ chairs push thru the rib cage/ hot water or boiling sperm decorate her body i rode the subway today & bouths a paper from a man who might have held his old lady onto a hot pressing iron/ i dont know maybe he catches lil girls in the park & rips open their behinds with steel rods/ i cdnt decide what he might have doen i only know every 3 minutes every 5 minutes every 10 minutes/ so i bought the paper looking for the announcement there has to be an announcement of the women's bodies found yesterday/ the missing little girl i sat in a restaurant with my paper looking for the announcement a yng man served me coffee i wondered did he pour the boiling coffee/ on the woman cuz she waz stupid/ did he put the infant girl/ in the coffee pot/ with the boiling coffee/ cuz she cried too much what exactly did he do with the hot coffee i looked for the announcement the discovery/ of the dismembered woman's body/ the victims have not all been identified/ today they are naked & dead/ refuse to testify/ one girl out of 10's not coherent/ i took the coffee & spit it up/ i found an announcement/ not the woman's bloated body in the river/ floating not the child bleeding in the 59th street corridor/ not the baby broken on the floor/ "there is some concern that alleged battered women might start to murder their husbands & lovers with no immediate cause" i spit up i vomit i am screaming we all have imediate cuase every 3 minutes every 5 minutes every 10 minutes every day women's bodies are found in alleys & bedrooms/ at the top of the stairs before i ride the subway/ buy a paper/ drink coffee/ i must know/ have you hurt a woman today did you beat a woman today throw a child cross a room are the lil girl's panties did you hurt a woman today i have to ask these obscene questions the authorities require me to establish immediate cuase every three minutes every five minutes every ten minutes every day Back to the POETRY page To the MUSE's poetry page Back to the m-a-c page