ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes


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We’re not frightened of storms, however dark. / The winds may gather us up, as they will

like sheets & towels, shirts & pants pinned to / a clothes line. Our lives are undiminished.




 Books by Larry Neal

Black Fire  / Hoodoo Hollerin Bebop Ghosts


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Sonnets for Larry Neal

By Rudolph Lewis


Wanted Alive, Not Dead

He knew his blood must fall to earth like red
dew from heaven on leaves of corn. This debt
due he had to pay. The community
he loved would thrash him like wheat all along
the route—whips with nails; needle punctures; feet
fists thudding on yellow flesh; curses hurled.

This torment he must endure for their sake.
Cross Keys wanted to know the origins—
dust storming brigands on horseback hacking
away at white flesh—men, women, children.

He needed a scribe to re-mark pages—
tales dispersed at home & afar—a means
for his reentry to the human fold.
His vision of Christ was unforgiving.

20 October 2006

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Long Live the Birds

We travel in the dark of the moon, weighed
down by traditions—twisted, falsified
while the ideologies of bombs burst
deconstructing body & bricks in smoke.
More nothingness sinks into the cold hearts
of those crying we make peace with power.

Who remembers Atlanta, Coventry,
or Fallujah after the screen goes black—
the souls, the dear lives we reduce to ruins?
Even as the newscaster counts the dead,

those leveled by bullets & canon fire
the birds continue to sing—Mockingbird
chatters on, sparrows remain playful, crows
rally. Buzzards peck morsels. Champagne flows.

21 October 2006

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Mules & Men

We remain in the traces, inside drawn
lines, proscribed avenues for refueling—
where our liberation scenarios
leave us dreaming of a brighter future.
The phases of the moon, movement of clouds,
sparrows on fire escapes go unnoted.

This is the way of the world, they tell us.
Bridles hung upon wooden pegs—for hours,
days, weeks, months . . . as we romp on a grassy
hill—are concessions as well as choices.

Maybe this drafted life is what freedom
is for we who live on the borders, or
sleep on cold pavement of skyscrapers, or
hold our pants in hand outside palaces.

22 October 2006

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Of Things Unseen

Those lay judges who murder the spirit

behind crooked smiles in elevated chairs

make us nervous, angry. We won’t pile

them on burning pyres for Utopia.

We’re not frightened of storms, however dark.

The winds may gather us up, as they will


like sheets & towels, shirts & pants pinned to

a clothes line. Our lives are undiminished.

Like the earth & moon our orbit is fixed

within the variations of seasons.


Let come what may. Our liberation is

certain. We won’t always be troubled with

two minds trapped in dark odiferous ships.

Our bold soundings will fracture this cosmos.

23 October 2006

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Talking Bones

Susquehanna trees boast the foliage of autumn—

mellow yellow, bright orange, deep reds on green

—as we cross thrice over its languorous

route to the sea. We rumble through forests

on rails laden with crowds & skyscrapers

to the slow, quiet gait of deer on dry leaves.  


For two days I hobbled out to Flatbush

& then back to Times Square’s flashing neon.

I wove through broad avenues of tourists

to catch the A Train to Schomburg’s Harlem.


In black space interludes of spooks & ghosts

I meditate on these underworld scenes—

historical freaks . . . dreadful skeletons—

& how tongues are the cause of our journeys.

24 October 2006

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Everlasting Bursting Plums

My mother’s yard flowers are blooming red

& white in this chilled autumn noonday sun

as fallen leaves fly about in the wind.

My brown eyes embrace this rugged beauty.

Our hardy folk haunting is not yet dead.

The swan songs of its death came far too soon.


True, the pyramids of sawdust . . . their smoke

are now only “an everlasting song.”

But the purple bark of profligate pines,

sprayed needles . . . golden horizons remain.


Our “changing same” with its African mask

delights us yet as a vibrant difference.

We still can be “a force for real good” like

Trane’s hoodoo-filled tunes in “A Love Supreme.”

25 October 2006

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Monsters in the Bell Horn

Puffed white clouds & autumn leaves are absent

in the rhythmic silences of our dreamscapes.

Dust, smoke, fumes, concrete sirens & red lights

drive us behind locked doors & drawn curtains.

Fat notes for condos expand, while freedom

screeches globally. Dancing in the street


occurs only in scenes of firing guns

with curses, tearful dirges dressed in black.

Mule teams of raging revenge chorus youth

as gray hairs cast & finger deadly bombs.


We’re a live audience for programmed pain

that mutes our creative dreams & visions.

This daily waste . . . minstrelsy for pensions—

these price tags on our ax can be peeled off.

26 October 2006

posted 27 October 2006

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Finding Aid for Larry Neal papers, 1961-1985

*   *   *   *   *'s 25 Best Selling Books



#1 - Justify My Thug by Wahida Clark
#2 - Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree
#3 - Head Bangers: An APF Sexcapade by Zane
#4 - Life Is Short But Wide by J. California Cooper
#5 - Stackin' Paper 2 Genesis' Payback by Joy King
#6 - Thug Lovin' (Thug 4) by Wahida Clark
#7 - When I Get Where I'm Going by Cheryl Robinson
#8 - Casting the First Stone by Kimberla Lawson Roby
#9 - The Sex Chronicles: Shattering the Myth by Zane

#10 - Covenant: A Thriller  by Brandon Massey

#11 - Diary Of A Street Diva  by Ashley and JaQuavis

#12 - Don't Ever Tell  by Brandon Massey

#13 - For colored girls who have considered suicide  by Ntozake Shange

#14 - For the Love of Money : A Novel by Omar Tyree

#15 - Homemade Loves  by J. California Cooper

#16 - The Future Has a Past: Stories by J. California Cooper

#17 - Player Haters by Carl Weber

#18 - Purple Panties: An Anthology by Sidney Molare

#19 - Stackin' Paper by Joy King

#20 - Children of the Street: An Inspector Darko Dawson Mystery by Kwei Quartey

#21 - The Upper Room by Mary Monroe

#22 – Thug Matrimony  by Wahida Clark

#23 - Thugs And The Women Who Love Them by Wahida Clark

#24 - Married Men by Carl Weber

#25 - I Dreamt I Was in Heaven - The Rampage of the Rufus Buck Gang by Leonce Gaiter


#1 - Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable
#2 - Confessions of a Video Vixen by Karrine Steffans
#3 - Dear G-Spot: Straight Talk About Sex and Love by Zane
#4 - Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny by Hill Harper
#5 - Peace from Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What You're Going Through by Iyanla Vanzant
#6 - Selected Writings and Speeches of Marcus Garvey by Marcus Garvey
#7 - The Ebony Cookbook: A Date with a Dish by Freda DeKnight
#8 - The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing
#9 - The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter Godwin Woodson

#10 - John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History  by Ahati N. N. Toure

#11 - Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure by Tavis Smiley

#12 -The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

#13 - The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell

#14 - The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore

#15 - Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can't Commit  by RM Johnson

#16 - Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins

#17 - Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell

#18 - A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose by Eckhart Tolle

#19 - John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard

#20 - Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris

#21 - Age Ain't Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife by Carleen Brice

#22 - 2012 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino
#23 - Chicken Soup for the Prisoner's Soul by Tom Lagana
#24 - 101 Things Every Boy/Young Man of Color Should Know by LaMarr Darnell Shields

#25 - Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class  by Lisa B. Thompson

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The Black Arts Movement
Literary Nationalism in the 1960s and 1970s

By James Edward Smethurst 

Emerging from a matrix of Old Left, black nationalist, and bohemian ideologies and institutions, African American artists and intellectuals in the 1960s coalesced to form the Black Arts Movement, the cultural wing of the Black Power Movement. In this comprehensive analysis, James Smethurst examines the formation of the Black Arts Movement and demonstrates how it deeply influenced the production and reception of literature and art in the United States through its negotiations of the ideological climate of the Cold War, decolonization, and the civil rights movement.

Taking a regional approach, Smethurst examines local expressions of the nascent Black Arts Movement, a movement distinctive in its geographical reach and diversity, while always keeping the frame of the larger movement in view. The Black Arts Movement, he argues, fundamentally changed American attitudes about the relationship between popular culture and "high" art and dramatically transformed the landscape of public funding for the arts.Publisher, University of North Carolina Press

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Visions of a Liberated Future

Black Arts Movement Writings

By Larry Neal

"What we have been trying to arrive at is some kind of synthesis of the writer's function as an oppressed individual and a creative artist," states Neal (1937-1981), a writer, editor, educator and activist prominent in the Black Arts movement of the 1960s and '70s. Articulate, highly charged essays about the black experience examine the views of his predecessors--musicians and political theorists as well as writers--continually weighing artistic achievement against political efficacy. While the essays do not exclude any readers, Neal's drama, poetry and fiction are more limited in their form of address, more explicitly directed to the oppressed. The poems are particularly intense in their protest: "How many of them / . . . have been made to /prostitute their blood / to the merchants of war." Rhythmic and adopting the repetitive structure of music, they capture the "blues in our mothers' voices / which warned us / blues people bursting out." Commentaries by Neal's peers, Amiri Baraka, Stanley Crouch, Charles Fuller and Jayne Cortez, introduce the various sections.—Publishers Weekly

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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Negro Digest / Black World

Browse all issues

1950        1960        1965        1970        1975        1980        1985        1990        1995        2000 ____ 2005        


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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery / George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of Haiti 

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ChickenBones Store (Books, DVDs, Music, and more)






update 26 February 2012 




Home    Amiri Baraka Table  Black Arts and Black Power Figures

Related Files:  Neal Interview in Omowe   Larry Neal Chronology  The Black Arts Movement  (Larry Neal)  “Don’t Say Goodbye to the Pork Pie Hat  Larry Neal Bio    Larry Neal Speaks 

Black Fire: An Anthology of Afro-American Writing