A Contract. (For the Destruction and Rebuilding of Paterson

By Amiri Baraka 1934–2014 Amiri Baraka
Flesh, and cars, tar, dug holes beneath stone
a rude hierarchy of money, band saws cross out   
music, feeling. Even speech, corrodes.
                                                          I came here
from where I sat boiling in my veins, cold fear   
at the death of men, the death of learning, in
cold fear, at my own. Romantic vests of same death   
blank at the corner, blank when they raise their fingers

Criss the hearts, in dark flesh staggered so marvelous   
are their lies. So complete, their mastery, of these   
stupid niggers. Loud spics kill each other, and will not

make the simple trip to Tiffany's. Will not smash their stainless   
heads, against the simpler effrontery of so callous a code as gain.

You are no brothers, dirty woogies, dying under dried rinds, in massa's   
droopy tuxedos. Cab Calloways of the soul, at the soul's juncture, a   
music, they think will save them from our eyes. (In back of the terminal

where the circus will not go. At the backs of crowds, stooped and vulgar   
breathing hate syllables, unintelligible rapes of all that linger in   
our new world. Killed in white fedora hats, they stand so mute at what

whiter slaves did to my father. They muster silence. They pray at the   
steps of abstract prisons, to be kings, when all is silence, when all
is stone. When even the stupid fruit of their loins is gold, or something   
else they cannot eat.

Amiri Baraka, “A Contract (For the Destruction and Rebuilding of Paterson)” 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 (Marsilio Publishers, 1995)

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Poet Amiri Baraka 1934–2014

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Subjects Social Commentaries, Cities & Urban Life, Money & Economics, Race & Ethnicity

 Amiri  Baraka

Biography

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, Cities & Urban Life, Money & Economics, Race & Ethnicity

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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