Political Poem

By Amiri Baraka 1934–2014 Amiri Baraka

(for Basil)

Luxury, then, is a way of
being ignorant, comfortably
An approach to the open market
of least information. Where theories   
can thrive, under heavy tarpaulins   
without being cracked by ideas.

(I have not seen the earth for years   
and think now possibly “dirt” is   
negative, positive, but clearly
social. I cannot plant a seed, cannot   
recognize the root with clearer dent   
than indifference. Though I eat
and shit as a natural man ( Getting up   
from the desk to secure a turkey sandwich   
and answer the phone: the poem undone   
undone by my station, by my station,   
and the bad words of Newark.) Raised up   
to the breech, we seek to fill for this   
crumbling century. The darkness of love,
in whose sweating memory all error is forced.

Undone by the logic of any specific death. (Old gentlemen   
who still follow fires, tho are quieter   
and less punctual. It is a polite truth   
we are left with. Who are you? What are you   
saying? Something to be dealt with, as easily.
The noxious game of reason, saying, “No, No,   
you cannot feel,” like my dead lecturer   
lamenting thru gipsies his fast suicide.

Amiri Baraka, “Political Poem” from Transbluesency: The Selected Poems of Amiri Baraka/LeRoi Jones, 1961-1995 (New York: Marsilio Publishers, 1995). Copyright © 1995 by Amiri Baraka. Reprinted with the permission of Sll/Sterling Lord Literistic, Inc.

Source: Transbluesency: The Selected Poems of Amiri Baraka/LeRoi Jones 1961-1995 (1995)

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Poet Amiri Baraka 1934–2014

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Subjects Social Commentaries

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 Amiri  Baraka


Poet, writer, teacher, and political activist Amiri Baraka was born Everett LeRoi Jones in 1934 in Newark, New Jersey. He attended Rutgers University and Howard University, spent three years in the U.S. Air Force, and returned to New York City to attend Columbia University and the New School for Social Research. Baraka was well known for his strident social criticism, often writing in an incendiary style that made it difficult . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Social Commentaries

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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