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From the city streets to the rich landscape of dreams, each of these poems holds out the "black wings of expectation" offering the ...
From the city streets to the rich landscape of dreams, each of these poems holds out the "black wings of expectation" offering the chance to emerge from the pain of the past and arrive at "the day you have been waiting for/when you would finally begin to live." At turns alarming and inspiring, the raw lyrics and piercing wisdom of Black Wings & Blind Angels remind us of Sapphire's place as a unique and fearless voice.
It is like a scene in a play.
His bald spot shines upward between dark tufts of hair.
We are sitting in a pool of light on the plastic covered couch, Ernestine, his last live-in,
ended up with. But that is the end.
We are sitting in the beginning of our lives now looking at our father upright in his black reclining chair. It's four of us then, children,
new to Los Angeles--drugs, sex, Watts burning,
Aretha, Michael Jackson, the murder of King,
haven't happened yet.
He is explaining how things will be--
Which one will cook, which one will clean.
"Your mama," he announces, "is not coming."
Two thousand miles away in the yellow linoleum light of her kitchen, my mother is sitting in the easy tan-colored man's lap.
Kissing him. Her perfect legs golden like whiskey, his white shirt rolled up arms that surround her like the smell of cake baking.
"Forget about her," my father's voice drops like a curtain, "she doesn't want you. She never did."
Holding the photograph by its serrated edges, staring,
I know the dark grey of her lips is "Jubilee Red"
her face brown silk. I start with the slick corner of the photograph, put it in my mouth like it's pizza or something. I close my eyes, chew, swallow.
"Breaking Karma #6"
I'm in the movies now playing the part of the girl who broke my heart.
My mouth, strobe-light pink, bounces off blue sequins.
Behind me the Stones sing "Miss You," hollering,
"There's some Puerto Rican girls around the corner just dying to meet chu."
In the wings a white boy in a wheelchair moans,
"Oh operator please get straight."
SHE takes the stage now. Big yella gal.
Daddy was a wop. Mama was a nigger.
She's a singer. With a voice hot semi-liquid rock.
Her heels are hills, cobalt blue melting like her dress into the firm breasts, fat hips & belly of Black Los Angeles.
"Let's burn down the corn field," SHE wails.
It's 1968. Tito, Michael, Randy & Cato are dancing down rows of rainbow colored corn when a voice comes over the loud speaker:
There will be no ambulances tonight.
"We'll make love, we'll make love while it burns,"
SHE screams like Howlin' Wolf, like Jay Hawkins,
like Hank Williams, like Van Gogh's windmill,
like the severed ear of black wind in a plate of pigtails & pink beans,
like that bridge in Connecticut that collapsed under the center of air shaking like change in a cup.
SHE stands like the big legs of a nuclear plant cracked at the base melting down a room full of $3/hr assembly line workers who hear her
& shout, "Honey Hush!" & the crack in their mother's back becomes a sidewalk, then a road leading to a peach tree in "Georgy"
or a pear tree in Florida.
I'm eating popcorn & watching a Mexican dump a drunk paraplegic BORN ON THE FOURTH OF JULY in the desert his granddad rolled over a century ago killing for gold.
At the side of the road an Okie girl,
selling peanuts & semiprecious gems,
hands me three pieces of black obsidian,
called "Apache Tears," the Okie girl drawls,
"'cause after the cavalry massacred their men,
the Native women cried so hard their tears turned black, then to stone."
Inside the theater the screen fills up with a fat half breed burning, gasoline in a blue dress. SHE picks up a
microphone & in a book she hasn't read yet a white boy in a rented room puts his eyes out with lye. "I rather!" SHE shouts.
"Tell it!" the audience shouts back. "Umm hmm,"
like the wind trapped in a slave castle SHE moans,
"I rather go blind," the screen melts white drips down her face & disappears,
"than see you--"
|Breaking Karma #5||3|
|Breaking Karma #6||5|
|Breaking Karma #7||8|
|Breaking Karma #8||11|
|Breaking Karma #9||15|
|She Asks About My Mother||20|
|False Memory Syndrome (or, In the Dream)||24|
|An Ordinary Evening||26|
|Blood on the Tracks (or, I'm So Lonesome I Could Die)||27|
|Lighthouse (or, 6 a.m. the dream)||33|
|humpty dumpty heart||43|
|I'll Play the Blues for You||49|
|The Feminist Photographer (or, Camera Obscura)||51|
|The Grey Wolf||53|
|Gorilla in the Midst #7||57|
|Gorilla in the Midst #8||59|
|Gorilla in the Midst #9||60|
|Gorilla in the Midst #10||66|
|Gorilla in the Midst #11||69|
|My Father's Silence (or, Last Night I Hear Two Poets - One Korean, One African American)||74|
|Benin Silver Father Slaves||78|
|Looking at Plate No. 4: "Homicide Body of John Rodgers, 883 W. 134th Street, Christensen, October 21, 1915"||80|
|A Window Opens||83|
|My Father Meets God (or, The Dream of Forgiveness)||85|
|#1 of Many: In the Dream||92|
|Some Different Kinda Books||95|
|Chava, Catalogue Chairs, & Three Colored Scarves||101|
|Leave the Lights On||107|
|bleeding from the head||108|
|"Who are those other two people?" she asked||111|
|saw James Brown||113|
|Fairy Tale #1 (or, Little Red Riding Hood Revisited)||121|
|I keep going||123|
Posted September 12, 2004
I stumbled accross this one by accident, the title grabbed me. The prose flows, suggests stories upon stories without telling them...while you are led to feel a mix of human emotions as you read. Rhythym, message and power...good poetic style. In some ways it reminds me of Gwendolyn Brooks's writings.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 19, 2001
This novel is a true triumph for Sapphire. Especially poignant after reading 'American Dreams', her final forgiveness of her father and her impeccable child like memory of her fears and sorrows mix together beautifully in her sparse but fresh prose.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 1, 2001
Sapphire took everyday life situations to another level. I truly enjoyed the luminous poetry in Black Wings & Blind Angels. Sapphire has a gift with saying it the way it is. Although I had to read some of the writings twice, my favorite clarity was 'My Father Meets God' pp 86. When a writer writes about life experience's as Sapphire has done it goes to a higher level, a level of healing. Through Sapphires writing she reachs out and heals many.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.