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About this Poem 

“Written on the death of preeminent poet, playwright and activist Amiri Baraka after his funeral/memorial/rally on January 18, 2014. He was a major leader in the Black Arts movement, author of the brilliant play Dutchman, and many other volumes of essays and polemics and poetry including Transbluency and The LeRoi Jones/Amiri Baraka Reader. He was a frequent guest faculty member at The Kerouac School at Naropa University, a program I cofounded with Allen Ginsberg and Diane di Prima. He was also very much a part of the The Poetry Project community at St. Marks Church in-the-Bowery where I worked a number of years.”
—Anne Waldman

Allegorical Baraka

Anne Waldman, 1945


“the tongues of dying men/enforce attention like deep harmony.”
                                                                   —W.S. Shakespeare

 in memoriam LeRoi Jones/ Amiri Baraka 1934-2014



who wakes you up
bad scenic tapestry
dove barely escaping hawk
villains bandits robber barons
slave traders
an excuse for progress?
who wakes you up
biblical, literal or 
actual rips
in bright kente cloth
or black today
symbolizing “intensified
spiritual energy”
enigmatic dreams 
get made with you
enfolding your selves
o man of social action
lift consciousness
to teach us ugly deeds
toes keep a thrum
upon the body politic
“survival dancing”
& deconstruct for us 
“state control”
harrowing acts of cruelty,
intricacies a Byzantine
cloak and dagger
morality play gets made of
tragic events unfathomable
fury fury fury
or redemption
in verbal spells
(contagious elegance’s
controversial logic)
such sweetness too
in a man you love
turns poetry from
dangerous toy to weapon
lament or dirge
or love song
skillful means, upaya’s wit
rhetoric of praise
& ceremony
or un-censorable blame
jazz riff toward 
visionary plateau 
whose time is come
this is the way it sounds
griot’s call
who’s a daemon?
griot calling
it sounds & poetry
is your gospel
truth who was target
a whole long life
in the struggle
for syntax of revolution
be these accidents or
miracles that bind us
be this friendship
& love
who told it as it is, love of
human freedom is a love supreme
is this buried, mere ornament
poet
saying to one coming up on stage
read like your ancestors are on fire?
chivalric banner guilds
bowstrings
obligatory joust
reluctance in the cities
in the suburbs
but ready to rise
a surreal riddle’s surprise
flee? escape?
surrender?
fight back?
consistency
in the man
looking back…
and moving forward looking back
though he break hearts
he never forgets arke
history & purpose
twin dynamics
for a new-to-come action-poetics
with post-post-post-post 
medieval exegesis
who was this journeyman
plangent messenger
good dark angel Amiri
and could be wrathful too
not about accordance
the whole range is
transcending
human suffering, you dig?
his gleaming steel
uncompromised 
brilliance our reward

Copyright © 2014 by Anne Waldman. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-A-Day on April 2, 2014. Browse the Poem-A-Day archive.

Copyright © 2014 by Anne Waldman. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-A-Day on April 2, 2014. Browse the Poem-A-Day archive.

Anne Waldman

Anne Waldman

A prominent figure in the beat poetry generation, Anne Waldman has published over forty books of poetry and is the cofounder of the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics.

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