Less Than A Butterfly

I’d like to eat some eyes
scalp a head or two
napalm New York L.A. or Kankakee.
When my guts are brick I’d like to throw them
at the window pane of America
because I’ve been sucked inside out and I’m delicate
about fences housing projects barbed wire
welfare gross national products unemployment and my crotch.
Sensitized inside out to the color of Elsie’s pure products
I’d like to put hand grenades in milk bottles
so corn flakes would rip their heads off.
I’d like to defoliate central park so it would look like home.
I’d like to deflower new jersey (though it’s been done)
I’d like to denounce kansas
make window bricks from red neck georgia clay.
I’d like to suck on root quiet
settle the dust
sleep and not get up until soft was waiting for me.
I’d like to move and move and move like a dancer
out of Harlem out of Watts out of the south side
from uptown to down or the other way around
from Appalachia Soweto Dachau Main Street.
I want to get out of the hills
out of the towns
not be the buzz in somebody’s ear.
I want to be yes when my little girl wants
all fingertips on skin
honey and bees in a beech tree
a coral burst that puzzle blends part of a spectrum
electric then magnetic
a wave that crests and crashes on the beaches of america
and sucks the sand down deep.
I want to be a face not pointed at with baseballs.
No more grease paint, wet canvas
or peanut eating crowds that leave after the elephants roll over.
Spin a web so I cannot see the sun
but I will not lie down waiting to be stung.
I don’t want to be less than a butterfly.
Let me sing braids and ribbons without ropes and burning nights
and the smell of flesh curling up to heaven
as tears fall down like wheat before a sickle.
Give me an icarian chance and I will melt or fly over a mirrored humanity.

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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.