By Amiri Baraka 1934–2014 Amiri Baraka

(For Blues People)

In the south, sleeping against
the drugstore, growling under   
the trucks and stoves, stumbling   
through and over the cluttered eyes   
of early mysterious night. Frowning   
drunk waving moving a hand or lash.   
Dancing kneeling reaching out, letting   
a hand rest in shadows. Squatting   
to drink or pee. Stretching to climb   
pulling themselves onto horses near   
where there was sea (the old songs   
lead you to believe). Riding out   
from this town, to another, where   
it is also black. Down a road
where people are asleep. Towards   
the moon or the shadows of houses.   
Towards the songs’ pretended sea.

Amiri Baraka, “Legacy” from Black Magic (Indianapolis: The Bobbs-Merrill Company, 1969). Copyright © 1969 by Amiri Baraka. Reprinted with the permission of Sll/Sterling Lord Literistic, Inc.

Source: Black Magic (1969)

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Poet Amiri Baraka 1934–2014

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Subjects Music, Arts & Sciences, Social Commentaries, Race & Ethnicity

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 Music, Arts & Sciences, Social Commentaries, Race & Ethnicity

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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