A Last Toss

And if I asked you
yet again
would you hold me
would you still refuse
knowing what you know now
would you still care not

would you tell me
your mother
you man
your woman
your principles
your god
your gut
whatever was in the way
this was a moral dilemma
this was a rock
and I was a hard place

would you snuff
the urgency within me
pinch it out
spit on it
shred it
consider it
emotional stew
goulash
gumbo
mumbo jumbo
hobo magic
baggage
and not your problem

I have strength
for a last toss
if the rope doesn’t
reach and catch
the water will drown
the flames will engulf
the wind will hurl me down
the sand will bury me
my soul will fly away.

Happy Kwanzaa

Kwanzaa celebrates what its founder, Maulana Karenga, called the seven principles of Kwanzaa, or Nguzo Saba (originally Nguzu Saba—the seven principles of blackness). Karenga said “is a communitarian African philosophy,” consisting of what Karenga called “the best of African thought and practice in constant exchange with the world.” These seven principles comprise Kawaida, a Swahili term for tradition and reason. Each of the seven days of Kwanzaa is dedicated to one of the following principles.

  • Umoja (Unity): To strive for and to maintain unity in the family, community, nation, and race.
  • Kujichagulia (Self-Determination): To define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves, and speak for ourselves.
  • Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility): To build and maintain our community together and make our brothers’ and sisters’ problems our problems, and to solve them together.
  • Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics): To build and maintain our own stores, shops, and other businesses and to profit from them together.
  • Nia (Purpose): To make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.
  • Kuumba (Creativity): To do always as much as we can, in the way we can, in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it.
  • Imani (Faith): To believe with all our heart in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders, and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.

Kwanzaa symbols include a decorative mat on which other symbols are placed, corn and other crops, a candle holder with seven candles, called a Kinara, a communal cup for pouring libations, gifts, a poster of the seven principles, and a black, red, and green flag. The symbols were designed to convey the seven principles.