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Africa Speaks

Battle Song

By Z'etoile Imma

For Assata Shakur and in memory of June Jordan, soldiers.

war pinched my blood like a malaria mosquito. still i stand tiger eyed against the smashing drone.  these liars are clenched between my teeth.   these children of killer and killed pull my words into shadow.   they reject my morning with curses.   they defile my river with waste.   but the water will wash itself even as it poisons.

in johannesburg a dog growled in death wish for my skin.   in port au prince paid whispers can tell the time.   in brooklyn trash bag mountains claim the hard horizon.   and the stones weep at great zimbabwe where i stood amongst the ruins, my hair falling in eulogy.   but the women are still forming clay into bowls where the children will curve.   and the gentle men massage concrete into poetry.   yet while mbira songs pluck the air and rum sprays to cool the twirling dust, we are still hungry.

tanks push over homes in palestine while those who despise us buy our history in harlem.   the rain is singing battle songs.   the thunder asks that we mark our eyelids to begin.   my lover holds two sticks at sunrise.   we drink our stew as we are running.   we tear the dollars from between our legs.   we suck on the bones of the dead to keep us from choking.   there is fire in the slave graveyard.   in the light of rage, we study the map of our dream.

war cannot eclipse the sun. the moon will not drown in a sea of greed. every seed cannot be hustled. my blood will not quench the vultures. and this poem is not a suicide bomb because the truth can never die.

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