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gimme a poem
Posted by: Talia (
Date: June 04, 2004 11:44AM

I'm having trouble finding stuff today and I know it's a very vague and easy one, but I'm looking for a poem written by a person of hispanic or african heritage...Lanston Hughes, Nikki Giovanni, whoever.

So, what do you like?

(yes, I'm lookin for extra credit)

Re: gimme a poem
Posted by: lg (
Date: June 04, 2004 11:53AM

Here's a link to Langston Hughes, I personally like "The Negro Speaks of Rivers". But most of his poetry is good. Check it out here:

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Re: gimme a poem
Posted by: -Les- (
Date: June 04, 2004 12:09PM

Talia, just a thought about the black man's influence on American poetry, you might read some Paul Lawrence Dunbar before deciding on using Hughes. Here's a taste:

A Starry Night
by Paul Laurence Dunbar

A cloud fell down from the heavens,
And broke on the mountain's brow;
It scattered the dusky fragments
All over the vale below.

The moon and the stars were anxious
To know what its fate might be;
So they rushed to the azure op'ning,
And all peered down to see.


Re: gimme a poem
Posted by: lg (
Date: June 04, 2004 01:25PM

Here's another by Dunbar, you may recognize the theme:

by Paul Laurence Dunbar

I know what the caged bird feels.
Ah me, when the sun is bright on the upland slopes,
when the wind blows soft through the springing grass
and the river floats like a sheet of glass,
when the first bird sings and the first bud ops,
and the faint perfume from its chalice steals.
I know what the caged bird feels.

I know why the caged bird beats his wing
till its blood is red on the cruel bars,
for he must fly back to his perch and cling
when he fain would be on the bow aswing.
And the blood still throbs in the old, old scars
and they pulse again with a keener sting.
I know why he beats his wing.

I know why the caged bird sings.
Ah, me, when its wings are bruised and its bosom sore.
It beats its bars and would be free.
It's not a carol of joy or glee,
but a prayer that it sends from its heart's deep core,
a plea that upward to heaven it flings.
I know why the caged bird sings.


Re: gimme a poem
Posted by: Talia (
Date: June 04, 2004 02:50PM

Nests of Night

Hens fight for scraps
in the dog bowl--
peck down and up, bodies
continue without their heads.

It's time for bed again.

Lips turn horseshoe.
He pulls her close.
Lime salt rust
washboard grated hands:

he leaves the bed again.

To start with a fish,
catch one. Slipped away!
Hooks rake the ocean floor
snagging eggs in spawning rain.

Kindling soaked, the oven cold.
Children wrap themselves
in cornhusk--throats open wide
above their nests of night.

Peel oranges.
Feed us the little ones
near the navel.

Leaves lick the sap, branches
lose bellies in the wind.
A stillborn mouse in the shed.
Apricots halve in the rain.

Copyright © 2003 Emmy Pérez

Re: gimme a poem
Posted by: lg (
Date: June 04, 2004 03:39PM

Talia, if you live in a large city, or have a university library around check out the poetry of Octavio Paz, although he is Mexican and not American, most of the Chicano people I know relate to his work as epitomizing the "heart and soul" of their culture.


Post Edited (06-04-04 14:40)

Re: gimme a poem
Posted by: Pam Adams (
Date: June 04, 2004 06:45PM


Lots of choice here. [] How about this one?


Mi Problema
From Chicana Falsa and other stories of death, identity, and Oxnard
by Michele Serros

My sincerity isn't good enough.

Eyebrows raise
when I request:

"Hable mas despacio, por favor."
My skin is brown
just like theirs,
but now I'm unworthy of the color
'cause I don't speak Spanish
the way I should.
Then they laugh and talk about
mi problema
in the language I stumble over.

A white person gets encouragement,
for weak attempts at a second language.
"Maybe he wants to be brown
like us."
and that is good.

My earnest attempts
make me look bad,

"Perhaps she wanted to be white
like THEM."
and that is bad.

I keep my flash cards hidden
a practice cassette tape
not labeled
'cause I am ashamed.
I "should know better"
they tell me
Spanish is in your blood.

I search for S.S.L. classes,
(Spanish as a Second Language)
in college catalogs
and practice
with my grandma.
who gives me patience,
permission to learn.

And then one day,
I'll be a perfected "r" rolling
tilde using Spanish speaker.
A true Mexican at last!

Re: gimme a poem
Posted by: Talia (
Date: June 09, 2004 04:22PM

El Poema / The Poem
Homero Aridjis
Translated by Eliot Weinberger


A Octavio Paz
El poema gira sobre la cabeza de un hombre
en círculos ya próximos ya alejados

El hombre al descubrirlo trata de poseerlo
pero el poema desaparece

Con lo que el hombre puede asir
hace el poema

Lo que se le escapa
pertenece a los hombres futuros

For Octavio Paz
The poem spins over the head of a man
in circles close now now far

The man discovers it tries to possess it
but the poem disappears

The man makes his poem
from whatever he can grasp

That which escapes
will belong to future men

Re: gimme a poem
Posted by: Talia (
Date: June 09, 2004 05:25PM

I read all I could find of his on the web and I just don't think the english translations do it justice.

Re: gimme a poem
Posted by: Talia (
Date: June 09, 2004 05:27PM

Thanks for that link Pam...I discovered many more poets. I think my treasure for the day is this one. What do you think?

Personal History
by Naomi Ayala

When your history gets too big
to keep fitting in the wagon
you've been pulling all your life
your sleep is thin as water
you zigzag up hills
rely on a ladder to climb into your hammock
flush the toilet with a stick
pick tomatoes with a long steel hook
open beans up with a knife
cut the flowers in your garden with your pride.

There is no Spring like another Spring,
no lover like another come before,
and dreams, they all have a familiar sound
like a song on the radio,
a new pair of shoes,
a phone call in the middle of the night

When your history gets too big
to keep fitting in the wagon
you've been pulling all your life
you leave your keys
where you meant never to go back,
remember what you wanted to forget --
a stranger on the street
selling songs for a dime,
like you his face, his eyes,
his song, his story --

because you are kin with all things now:
the man you kicked into the wall,
the car you crashed,
the food you cannot eat,
the whisper of countries
that open before you in the street,
the mechanical laughter behind the prime
time of your day, somebody else's dreams.
When your history gets that big
you walk backwards as you pull,
run after things that fall out on the street
forget exactly what it is you carry
in that wagon but live your life
as if you knew, always looking
for the sides of things that slope
down smoothly from a straingt line across,
the memory that fits
so easily in your pocket.

Re: gimme a poem
Posted by: Pam Adams (134.71.192.---)
Date: June 09, 2004 06:08PM

I like it!


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