In the old country, he bonded
with the land. As he grew,
he measured his head height
against the tall grasses of Africa.
A rude uprooting, harsh separation
from drum and spear,
began his transformation.
Foul winds blew from bow to stern,
the horrible stench from knotted bowels
of stolen bodies bent grotesque in too small
spaces. Rumbling swelled the rage up
from entrails to swollen throats,
until the bitter came out
in sad-sweet song from the
forlorn lips of the warrior.
The chains, whips, dogs—nothing—
could kill the warrior’s spirit or
heart. Like a sieve, his blood
seeped red, white, black,
into generations who
built and bonded with their
harsh new land. Still, the
bitter came out, and some planted
poison fit for a warrior’s blade.
The young blade dips
and sways with a rhythm
in his walk, a rap in his talk,
that echo the tall grasses of Africa.
He carries rumbling rage,
for his brother,
the city warrior,
and for the killer
of his dreams.
Patricia A. Ward
from her book Three Poets in New Orleans
Xavier Review Press, 2000
Used with permission of the poet.