July 27, 2019

Mama was a Negro Spiritual

Mama was a Negro Spiritual

by Latorial Faison

A Winning Writers' Poetry Contest Winner
First Prize, Tom Howard, Poetry 2018
She was a goodnight prayer, a moon that
Shined down on me through her bedroom
Window. She was the alphabet, a Sunday
School verse, a third Sunday gospel song to
Rehearse, a mostly misunderstood exchange
Of power, responsibility & commands.

She was a black '73 Ford LTD, a Nottoway
River crossing, a house filled with too many
Other folks' children, an orphan that life &
Death left behind to find some joy. She was
A funeral going, everybody in Southampton
County knowing, bad manner destroying
Pillar of strength.

She was a Friday evening ride to town, a
Saturday morning cleaning, a Sunday-go-to-
Meeting kind of human being. She laughed
Louder than Jim Crow's law & cried softer
Than God's peace. She was the secret I never
Told, sworn & born for the claiming, the
Carrying of some other man & woman's burdens.

She was rare & uncut, unpolished & ripped from
Some earthen mine, placed beneath a
Sharecropper's vine to bear witness, to bear it all
Deep down inside. She was a black hearse, a
Deaf man walking, a raising & waving of both
Hands. She was thunder; she was lightning,
A heavy rain that fell in spring.

She was an informal education, small town
Syndication. Her house a book & she the words
Penned fervently, permanently on all its pages.
She was a Ridley Road scholar, a kitchen where
Cooking was always done & well. She was Ms.
Shirley, the lunch lady, the bus driver, Daddy's wife,
Giver of too much self.

Mama was a Negro spiritual, a hymn hummed from
Inside a Baptist Hymnal in her old rocking chair,
From a corner of our living room. She was a
Wisdom no man could whistle, a fancy no woman
Could fake, a journey nobody living in the now
Could take. She was an old fashioned lyric
Everybody could lift their voice & sing.

Copyrighted Latorial Faison. All Rights Reserved.

The Sounds of Blackness

The Sounds of Blackness
by Latorial Faison

In my heart there lies no defeat
But in my bosom a triumphant and rhythmic beat.
And while my spirit dances with gladness,
I am quick to recall the sounds of blackness.

I hear the moaning and the wailing
Of native Africans held captive on ships sailing
As though it were my youth of yesterday
Whispering truths to ears in dark dismay,

That long, persistent motherland call
Of anxious hope and justice for all
As though it beckoned from higher heights,
I hear the songs of steal away nights.

That disdainful whip, the startling crack,
The sound of fifty lashes to my brother man's back.
We listened to hate's hypocrisy and religion.
We prayed for deliverance complete with wisdom.

I hear Harriet's footsteps and her hushing sacred sounds
As she walked without fear in search of freedom's grounds
To lead as many captives safely to northern light,
Her savvy spirit vowed to never give up the fight.

The sighs of relief at a kingdom finally come,
Freedom at last for us, the worst of sins to some.
But to the surprise and shock of a divided nation
Came the lyrics of a long overdue slave Emancipation.

The endless cheering must have been loud
While those who stood free made our ancestors proud.
And the old Africans' dream really did come true
In a nation where their people were brought to be subdued.

Dr. King shouted "Free at last, free at last!"
And his dream of a promised land did come to pass.
The sit-ins, the marches, the demands for equal rights
Were necessary for those freed in darkness and deprived of light.

So, in my daily living, I do not dare ignore the sounds
But am honored that my ancestors were strong and freedom bound.
When fellowmen can't remember the truth about this sadness,
Pause to share with them one of the many sounds of blackness.

from Immaculate Perceptions by Latorial Faison
Copyrighted 2003 All rights reserved.

January 29, 2013

What is Black History?

What is Black History
by Latorial Faison

It is the dirt road our forefathers trod,
Memories of their lives branded in our hearts.
It is a word, a place, a state of mind.
Black history is a peek into our ancestors’ time.

It is a piece of fabric our grandmothers wore,
An old rope that our grandfathers lived to deplore.
It is a slave ship and middle passage over seas.
Black history is cotton fields and tobacco leaves.

It is a plantation overseer and back door crumbs,
Weeping and wailing, a beating of drums.
It is a troubling truth, an unapologetic past.
Black history is an entire race struggling to last.

It is a Mississippi burning in a Tennessee town,
An evil that lingered to bring Black people down.
It is a book or movie of strength, courage, and will.
Black history is the fate of young Emmett Till.

It is little Ruby Bridges, the exquisite Ruby Dee,
Carter G. Woodson, and Coretta Scott King.
A Mahalia Jackson song, a Michael Jackson routine,
Black history is the phrase “Let freedom ring!”

It is Cheney University, the Tuskegee Airmen,
The N. A. A. C. P., the Black Holocaust Museum.
It is a navy master diver named Carl Brashear.
Black history is our legacy of triumph without fear.

It is General Colin Powell, a Vaudeville drama,
Zora Neale Hurston, and President Barack Obama.
It is every single experience of our history.
Black history is the story of you and me.


Copyrighted February 2011 Latorial D. Faison
from 28 Days of Poetry Celebrating Black History Volume 3 (2012)

October 09, 2012

A Slave's Revolt

A Slave's Revolt by Latorial Faison

It's a vision ever emblazoned in Heaven's 
truth of dismal days lived by men back 

then, times of stoop-side Sunday Schools 
in Southampton County. Brother Nat was 

preaching to a people caught up in a white 
man's deception he felt moved to rebel 

against.  He was more than a preacher without 
a pulpit; he was a slave with a calling to call 

his brethren to everlasting arms"The white 
man's evil, and we want to be free, the signs 

keep a comin' and they a pressin' me." It was 
the heart of the black, Virginia, Jerusalem,

white way, till the blood of freedom appeared
and painted God's skies, miraculously in  

black Moses’ eyes. Anointed, sanctified, soul 
on fire, the slave was called to congregate, not 

abdicate. He was chosen, and the time had 
come for us to walk through the fire. Not a 

quest, but a calling, to leave none living,
none breathing. For the air God gave all, 

was stolen, stripped, taken and whipped out 
of us; they bled a dark people of life running 

through their veins, mocked them with 
husbands, wives, and mulatto baby cries 

until it was, to no surprise, justified rebellion
a righteous revolt, a song of silent amen's.


Copyrighted February 2005 Latorial Faison | www.latorialfaison.com
from 28 Days of Poetry Celebrating Black History (2006) by Latorial Faison