ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes


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I know you're wondering what I've got / down there, in my belly, in my thighs,

make him leave your side, / crawl out of his pale sick skin




Books by Kwame Dawes

She's Gone / Wisteria, Twilight Songs / I Saw Your Face / Bob Marley Impossible Flying /  Midland  / Natural Mysticism

Twenty: South Carolina Poetry Fellows / A Far Cry from Plymouth Rock / A Place to Hide Wheel and Come Again

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Black Funk

By Kwame Dawes


The rigid of my jaw bone

is power forged in the oven

of every blow I have felt.

My water walk is something like

compensation for a limp.

Don't begrudge me my sashay

walk, it's all I got sometimes.

'Cause I know the way you stare,

pale blue eyes like a machete edge

catching the colour of new sky,

the way you barely whisper

your orders, spit out the food,

complain about my shuffling gait,

snorting out my funky smell,

find fault in each task I do,

never right, never good enough,

curse my children like dogs,

cause I know you just hurting

drooling your bitterness

when my back is turned,

when the shape of my black ass

swings that way you hate,

sashaying through this room of daggers.

I know you're wondering what I've got

down there, in my belly, in my thighs,

make him leave your side,

crawl out of his pale sick skin

and howl like a beast at night,

whimper like a motherless babe

suckling on me, suckling on me

You can't hide the shame you feel

to know I sometimes turn him back.

I know you know it, from the way,

he comes on you hard and hurried,

searching for a hole to weep his soul in

yes, I turn him back when I want,

and he still comes back for more.

I've got my pride sometimes.

I know the way you try to read me

try to be me, can't be me,

never be me, never feel the black

of me, never know the blues in me,

'cause you never want to see you

in me even though we bleed together,

finding each other's tidal rhythms

and bloat together like sisters,

hoarding the waters of the moon together

So I sashay through your life,

averting the blades with my leather skin.

I abuse you, and when he bawls,

that is my pride at work,

all I've got sometimes.

I'll cook your meals

until he keels over,

and you just have to take it

'cause I took it with no fuss

when he forced his nothing self on me,

while my babies sucked their thumbs

within the sound of my whimpering;

I paid baby;

I'm just reaping what y'all done sowed


Sometime I could sit down

and remember better

than I think I could remember

from way back—better than I can do now.

I may say something today,

or see something today

or somebody may say something,

and it goes out.


posted 14 September 2006

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Kwame Dawes is the author of 13 books of poetry and many books of fiction, nonfiction, and drama, most recently Hope's Hospice (2009) and She's Gone (2007). He is Distinguished Poet in Residence at the University of South Carolina, where he directs the South Carolina Poetry Initiative and the University of South Carolina Arts Institute. He is the programming director of Jamaica's Calabash International Literary Festival. Dawes lives in Columbia, South Carolina.

*   *   *   *   *'s 25 Best Selling Books



#1 - Justify My Thug by Wahida Clark
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#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

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#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

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

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#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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Home Is Where

An Anthology of African American Poetry from the Carolinas

By Kwame Dawes

In Home is Where, Kwame Dawes compiles the work of more than two dozen African American poets from the Carolinas, showcasing a vast array of original voices writing on subjects ranging from Jim Crow to jazz, haunted landscapes to romantic love-all in an attempt to define the South as home. Dawes-a nationally celebrated poet, dramatist, scholar, novelist, essayist, and founder of the South Carolina Poetry Initiative at the University of South Carolina-edits this new and unparalleled anthology from Hub City Press.

The poets range in notoriety from National Book Award winner Terrance Hayes, PEN American Open Book Award winner Nikky Finney, and Ansfield-Wolf Book Award winner A. Van Jordan to poets less recognizable by name whose work readers will immediately recognize as powerful, musical, and accomplished. In his introduction to the anthology, Dawes proclaims the necessity of this collection, not only for getting extraordinary poetry into the hands of readers but also for the political importance of the voices represented.

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Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America

By Melissa V. Harris-Perry

According to the author, this society has historically exerted considerable pressure on black females to fit into one of a handful of stereotypes, primarily, the Mammy, the Matriarch or the Jezebel.  The selfless Mammy’s behavior is marked by a slavish devotion to white folks’ domestic concerns, often at the expense of those of her own family’s needs. By contrast, the relatively-hedonistic Jezebel is a sexually-insatiable temptress. And the Matriarch is generally thought of as an emasculating figure who denigrates black men, ala the characters Sapphire and Aunt Esther on the television shows Amos and Andy and Sanford and Son, respectively.     

Professor Perry points out how the propagation of these harmful myths have served the mainstream culture well. For instance, the Mammy suggests that it is almost second nature for black females to feel a maternal instinct towards Caucasian babies.

As for the source of the Jezebel, black women had no control over their own bodies during slavery given that they were being auctioned off and bred to maximize profits. Nonetheless, it was in the interest of plantation owners to propagate the lie that sisters were sluts inclined to mate indiscriminately.

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Sex at the Margins

Migration, Labour Markets and the Rescue Industry

By Laura María Agustín

This book explodes several myths: that selling sex is completely different from any other kind of work, that migrants who sell sex are passive victims and that the multitude of people out to save them are without self-interest. Laura Agustín makes a passionate case against these stereotypes, arguing that the label 'trafficked' does not accurately describe migrants' lives and that the 'rescue industry' serves to disempower them. Based on extensive research amongst both migrants who sell sex and social helpers, Sex at the Margins provides a radically different analysis. Frequently, says Agustin, migrants make rational choices to travel and work in the sex industry, and although they are treated like a marginalised group they form part of the dynamic global economy. Both powerful and controversial, this book is essential reading for all those who want to understand the increasingly important relationship between sex markets, migration and the desire for social justice. "Sex at the Margins rips apart distinctions between migrants, service work and sexual labour and reveals the utter complexity of the contemporary sex industry. This book is set to be a trailblazer in the study of sexuality."—Lisa Adkins, University of London

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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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update 5 February 2012




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Related files:   Wisteria, Twilight Songs   Vengeance   Black Funk  Tornado Child