Born LeRoi Jones
Born in the industrial city of Newark, New Jersey
After attending Howard University in Washington, D. C., he served in the United States Air Force
In the late fifties, settled in New York’s Greenwich Village where he was a central figure of that bohemian scene
Became nationally prominent in 1964, with the New York production of his Obie Award-winning play, Dutchman
Became a Black Nationalist, moving first to Harlem and then back home to Newark
In the mid-1970s, became a Third World Marxist-Leninist
1999, after teaching for twenty years in the Department of Africana Studies at SUNY-Stony Brook, he retired
Currently he lives with his wife, the poet Amina Baraka, in Newark.
Poems are bullshit unless they are / teeth or trees or lemons piled / on a step. Or black ladies dying / of men leaving nickel hearts / beating them down. Fuck poems / and they are useful, wd they shoot / come at you, love what you are, / breathe like wrestlers, or shudder / strangely after pissing. We want live / words of the hip world live flesh & / coursing blood. Hearts Brains / Souls splintering fire. We want poems / like fists beating niggers out of Jocks / or dagger poems in the slimy bellies / of the owner-jews. Black poems to / smear on girdlemamma mulatto bitches / whose brains are red jelly stuck / between ‘lizabeth taylor’s toes. Stinking / Whores! We want ‘poems that kill.’ / Assassin poems, Poems that shoot / guns. Poems that wrestle cops into alleys / and take their weapons leaving them dead / with tongues pulled out and sent to Ireland. Knockoff / poems for dope selling wops or slick halfwhite / politicians Airplane poems. rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr / rrrrrrrrrrrr … tuhtuhtuhtuhtuhtuhtuhtuhtuhtuh / … rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr … Setting fire and death to / whities ass. Look at the Liberal / Spokesman for the jews clutch his throat / & puke himself into eternity … rrrrrrrrrr / There’s a negroleader pinned to / a bar stool in Sardi’s eyeballs melting / in hot flame. Another negroleader / on the steps of the white house one / kneeling between the sheriff’s thighs / negotiating cooly for his people. / Aggh … stumbles across the room … / Put it on him, poem. Strip him naked / to the world! Another bad poem cracking / steel knuckles in a jewlady’s mouth / Poem scream poison gas on beasts in green berets / Clean out the world for virtue and love, / Let there be no love poems written / until love can exist freely and / cleanly. Let Black People understand / that they are the lovers and the sons / of lovers and warriors and sons / of warriors Are poems & poets & / all the loveliness here in the world
We want a black poem. And a / Black World. / Let the world be a Black Poem / And Let All Black People Speak This Poem / Silently
-Black Art (in whole)
For Malcolm’s eyes, when they broke/ the face fos ome dumb white man, For/ Malcolm’s hands raised to bless us/ all black and strong in his image/ of ourselves. For Malcolm’s words/ fire dars, the victor’s tireless/ thrusts, words hung above the world/ change as it may, he said it, and/ for this he was killed, for waying,/ and feeling, and being/change, all/ collected hot in his heart, For Malcolm’s/ heart raising us above our filthy cities,/ for his stride, and his beat, and his address/ to the grey monsters of the world, For Malcolm’s/ pleas for your dignity, black men, for your life,/ black man, for the filling of your minds/ with righteousness. For all of him dead and/ gone and vanished from us, and all of him which/ clings to our speech black god of our time./ For all of him, and all of yourself, look up,/ black man, quit stuttering and shuffling, look up,/ black man, quit whining and stooping, for all of him,/ For Great Malcolm a prince of the earth, let nothing in us rest/ until we avent ourselves for his death, stupid animals/ that killed him, let us never breathe a pure breath if/ we fail, and whtie men call us faggots till the end of/ the earth.
-A Poem For Black Hearts (in whole)
In the south, sleeping agains/ the drugstore, growling under/ the trucks and stoves, stumbling/ through and over the cluttered eyes/ of early mysterious night. Frowning/ drunk waving moving a hand or lash./ Dancing kneeling reaching out, letting/ a hand rest in shadows. Squatting/ to drink or pee. Stretching to climb/ pulling themselves onto horses near/ where there was sea (the old songs/ lead you to believe). Riding out/ from this town, to another, where/ it is also black. Down a road/ wehre people are asleep. Towards/ the moon or the shadows of houses./ Towards the songs’ pretended sea.
-Legacy (For Blues People) (in whole)
How will it go, crumbling earthquake, towering inferno, juggernaut, volcano, smashup,/ in reality, other than the feverish nearreal fantasy of the capitalist flunky film hacks/ tho they sense its reality breathing a quake inferno scar on their throat even snorts of/ 100% pure cocaine cant cancel the cold cut of impending death to this society. On all the/ screens of america, the joint blows up every hour and a half for two dollars an fifty cents./ They have taken the niggers out to lunch, for a minute, made us partners (nigger charlie) or/ surrogates (boss nigger) for their horror. But just as superafrikan mobutu cannot leopardskinhat his/ way out of responsibility for lumumba’s death, nor even with his incredible billions rockefeller/ cannot even save his pale ho’s titties in the crushing weight of things as they really are./ How will it go, does it reach you, getting up, sitting on the side of the bed, getting ready/ to go to work. Hypnotized by the machine, and the cement floor, the jungle treachery of trying/ to survive with no money in a money world, of making the boss 100,000 for every 200 dollars/ you get, and then having his brother get you for the rent, and if you want to buy the car you/ helped build, your downpayment paid for it, the rest goes to buy his old lady a foam rubber/ rhinestone set of boobies for special occasions when kissinger drunkenly fumbles with/ her blouse, forgetting himself./ If you dont like it, what you gonna do about it. That was the question we asked each other, &/ still right regularly need to ask. You dont like it? Whatcha gonna do, about it??/ The real terror of nature is humanity enraged, the true technicolor spectacle that hollywood/ cant record. They cant even show you how you look when you go to work. or when you come back./ They cant even show you thinking or demanding thenew socialist reality, its the ultimate tidal/ wave. When all over the planet, men and women, with heat in their hands, demand that society/ be planned to include the lives and self determination of all the people ever to live. That is/ the scalding scenario with a cast of just under two billion that they dare not even whisper./ Its called, “We Want It All … The Whole World!”
-A New Reality Is Better Than a New Movie! (in whole)
We’ll worship Jesus/ When jesus do/ Somethin/ When jesus blowup/ the white house/ or blast nixon down/ when jesus turn out congress/ or bust general motors to/ yard bird motors/ jesus we’ll worship jesus/ when jesus get down/ when jesus get out his yellow lincoln/ w/ the built in cross stain glass/ window& bow w/black peoples/ enemies we’ll worship jesus when he get bad enough to at least scare/ somebody
Jesus need to hurt some a our/ enemies, then we’ll check him/ out, all that screaming and hollering/ & wallering and moaning talkin bout/ jesus, jesus, in a red/ check velvet vine + 8 in. heels
we aint gonna worship jesus cause jesus dont exist/ xcept in song and story except in ritual and dance, except in slum stained/ tears or trillion dollar opulence stretching back in history, the history/ of the oppression of the human mind/ we worship the strength in us/ we worship our selves/ we worship the light in us/ we worship the warmth in us/ we worship the world/ we worship the love in us/ we worship our selves/ we worhsip nature/ we worship ouselves/ we worship the life in us, and science, and knowledge, and transformation/ of the visible world/ but we aint gonna worship no jesus/ we aint gonna legitimize the witches and devils and spooks and hobgoblins/ the sensuous lies of the rules to keep us chained to fantasy and illusion/ sing about life, not jesus/ sing about revolution, not no jesus/ stop singing about jesus,/ sing about, creation, our creation, the life of the world and fantastic/ nature how we struggle to transform it, but dont victimize our selves by/ distorting the world/ stop moanin about jesus, stop sweatin and crying and stompin and dyin for jesus/ unless thats the name of the army we building to force the land finally to/ change hands. And lets not call that jesus, get a quick consensus, on that,/ lets damn sure not call that black fire muscle no invisible psychic dungeon/ no gentle vision straight jacket, lets call that peoples army, or wapenduzi or/ simba/ wachanga, but we not gon callit jesus, and not gon worship jesus, throw/ jesus out yr mind. Build the new world out of reality, and new vision/ we come to find out what there is of the world/ to understand what there is here in the world!/ to visualize change, and force it./ we worship revolution
-When We’ll Worship Jesus