American poet Amiri Baraka, born Leroi Jones on October 7, 1934, died this past week. He was a controversial and profane poet, but his poetry drew praise from many critics and fans for its originality and honesty.
I never really was a big fan of his poetry, perhaps because I just didn't understand it, but anyone of my generation was certainly aware of Baraka and his work. He was a cultural icon for many.
Reading through several of his poems recently, in search of one to feature on this Poetry Sunday, I came across this one, which seemed both ironic and very appropriate, given the circumstances.
Death Is Not As Natural As You Fags Seem to Think
the black puritan.
in dull tones
of another forest.
Respecter of power. That it transform, and enlarge
Hierarchy crawls over earth (change exalting space
Dried mud to mountain, cape and whip, swirled
Walkers, and riders and flyers.
Language spread into darkness. Be Vowel
Rather the lust of the thing
than across to droop at its energies. In melted snows
the leather cracks, and pure men claw at their bodies.
Women laugh delicately, delicately rubbing their thighs.
And the dead king laughs, looking out the hole
in his tomb. Seeing the poor
singing his evil songs.