— after Robert Duncan

my earliest dreams linger/wronged spirits
who will not rest/dusky crows astride
the sweetbriar seek to fly the
orchard's sky. is this the world i loved?
groves of perfect oranges and streets of stars
where the sad eyes of my youth
wander the atomic-age paradise


the blood of a stark and wounded puberty?
o what years ago? what rapture lost in white
heat of skin/walls that patina my heart's
despair? what fear disturbs my quiet
night's grazing? stampedes my soul?

o memory. i sweat the eternal weight of graves


— after Sergio Macias

today i'm with you braiding hate into a rainbow
picking up trash off the cement banks of the Los Angeles river
human feces litters the corporate dreams downtown
i already feel my soul's freedom hymns
(i am drunk on disturbing things. hopelessness flows
from the wounds of my negritude. when light reaches me
i cringe and pray for darkness to return)

i navigate through the streets, my compass broken
smashed by a hunk of stormy history.
i savor the stench of auto exhaust and unwashed bodies
sweat stinging the unhappy eyes of my region. the
illuminati enforcers mapping my deathwalk toward night

the eagle preens above our bleeding bear


— after Huey P. Newton

 the clairvoyant activist ever ready to
face the consequences of his/her perceptions must

subsist on stubborn hope (D. Brutus) for maintenance
aids dogged determination to construct required change.
revolutionary homicide/suicide means awareness of
reality in combination with potential sociocentrism.
those ill-equiped to struggle against brutal powers risk
extinction. [to cooperate in the imprisoning of one's own
people-psyche is reactionary homicide/suicide which will be
rewarded by ever-watchful scions of the oppressive belief
system. but to pretend to do so is to trick.] specific
group resistance of rampant narco/necromania may be
manifest in periodic eruptions of spontaneous civil
violence. it is imperative that visionaries see

war as ultimate service for resolution


 i am seized with the desire to end

my breath in short spurts. shoulder pain
the world lengthens then contracts
(in deep water — my sudden swimming. the surface
breaks. thoughts leap. the Buick bends
a corner. an arc of light briefly sweeps the dark walls)
everywhere there are temples of stone
and strange chantings — ashes angels and dolls
i forget my lover. i want a stranger —
to shiver at the unfamiliar touch of the one
who has not yet touched me

a furred spider to entrap my hungers
in his silk. with virulent toxin
to numb my throat

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Copyright © 1994 by Wanda Coleman.

These poems are from American Sonnets by Wanda Coleman, co-published by Light and Dust Books and Woodland Pattern Book Center. #13 also appeared previously in BOMBAY GIN vol. II # 4.

American Sonnets is available through the Light and Dust catalogue.

Return to Light and Dust Poets.

Light and Dust @ Grist Mobile Anthology of Poetry.

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