February 1, 2013

Poem of the Week: in memory of malcolm x

in memory of malcolm x

William F. Mack

we are listening
dead malcolm to
your lingering music

damnit they killed
you/by not listening /

so we burned making
flames as a
sacrifice to you/
dead malcolm/

your words are true
so we paint this
country black with

brothers and sisters
brothers and sisters/
listen to your black
malcolm who calls
from another place
with black music
from black voices

oh my God Malcolm
rescue us . . . .
must we die to

brothers and sisters
brothers and sisters/
spread his music
through the streets
we are listening
dead malcolm

damnit they
killed you.

winter 67

from Arts In Society, Vol 5, No 3,, 1968

[What with February being Black History Month and the 21st marking the anniversary of the assassination of El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz, or Malcolm X, as he is best known, all the Poems of the Week this month will be be related to Malcolm. In searching for and selecting them, I was reflecting on how massive an outpouring of poetry his murder provoked. Much had to do with the rising Black Arts movement which grew up as part of the overall Black Liberation Movement. But the same thing didn't happen when MLK was gunned down, on a guess because he came out of a movement marked above all else by singing. Not so Malcolm X. That in turn reminded me of this poem, bluntly speaking of "dead malcolm" and insisting on "his music" from start to finish.

I have been unable to track down anything about the author, William F. Mack, described as "a young black poet with interests in acting, writing and film-making. If you know anything further, please write something in the comments section.]

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