Konch Magazine - Three poems for Amiri Baraka by Haki





come in a



rushin to catch words that came before him

tho that don’t much matter,

him got his own words, music, dance, dramatics

& bright ideas even if some of them used cars

& don’t work.                              but baraka works

works harder than 15 men his age,

da, da da, do    who been around

long enough to tell his time

in places where people have tried to

beat the beat & tempo out of his talk & walk.

monk, trane & duke played secrets

that saved him and us even if we didn’t

accurately hear their da da, doos

baraka did.  they spoke musically to him.

he gave us his many languages & genius.

his comin in time is getting better & best & less late,

even for this sage still makin up stories

actin on his own stage & firing truthpoems

that compel liars & politicians to exit early and often.


For Amiri Baraka


© 2004 by Haki R. Madhubuti

from Run Toward Fear: New Poems and a Poet’s Handbook published by Third World Press


Baraka II



i saw The Dead Lecturer in a Chicago airport.

pacing, fast walking probably quick thinking about

unfinished projects like plays, poems and essays about

“successful” negroes supporting Bush & Ghost

and the secrets of whites with rhythm and

mass graves in Rwanda;

mostly Tales  of The System of Dante’s Hell out of school

really way past graduate courses taught

on the rough-neck streets

of Newark. A kind of Funk Lore in 3/4 time.

recently, i saw Black Fire, In Our Terribleness—older and

small but still a witness with missing teeth, grayer hair with a

fast smile in a blue shirt, accentuated by a smokin Egyptian

print tie—on the south side of Chicago.

Spirit Reach with his Hard Facts was alone and

standing close to a pay phone without an assistant,

credit or debit cards, without lovers of literature or Jello

supporting him. No Kawaida Studies here.

his aloneness frightens me, approaching him I wondered

why this genius of serious music,

of transcendent literature wasn’t

surrounded by readers, fans, collectors of fine words on pages

seeking instructions and autographs.

It’s Nation Time is still asleep.

where were the Blues People and Black Magic folks?

S.O.S. for the Slave ships and The Motion of History souls.

where were the consumers of best sellers, few sellers & the

new line of negro confessional booty-call stores. maybe

they just didn’t notice this Wise, Why’s, Y’s poet,

this lover of language, passionate protectors of

sound and the laughter of children.

maybe they were blinded by their bones of contradiction—

and pimp juice traversing their veins. they looked past this

original and complicated seer of Black life, this The Moderns

updated, reworked beyond Transbluesency,

there will be no Eulogies here,

no Preface to a Twenty Volume Suicide Note,

just an older and able African son going Home,

pacing the floor of Midway Airport

on the southside of Chicago, thinking and

alone with a swift—smile. 

“whats happenin bro?”













© 2004 by Haki R. Madhubuti

from Run Toward Fear: New Poems and a Poet’s Handbook published by Third World Press





Baraka III


It’s difficult to be talented 

& genius

yet, often called crazy to your face

in a place that rewards moneymakers

who build and worship skyscrapers as monuments

to the individuality of dollar

bill collecting and preemptive war making

& whose poets and artists are viewed

as handicapped, a bit mad with water colored hands & ideas.

artists who work at beauty, wear words

bathed in nature & music,

talk in complex sentences, odd metaphors & swinging

feet are confusing to themselves and others.

they also think too much about

the nature of flags and forests,

the truth of institutions & religions

of language and lawyers, bankers & brokers;

the why & who of homelessness,

the question of collateral damage and

the battle between cultures, races & classes out of school.


actually, being a complete artist

in a place that worships skyscrapers, money, war,

misconceived thought and hummer2,  over children

   requires a bit of madness.



© 2004 by Haki R. Madhubuti

from Run Toward Fear: New Poems and a Poet’s Handbook published by Third World Press


Haki R. Madhubuti
Poet, Founder and Publisher of Third World Press

His latest book is Honoring Genius: Gwendolyn Brooks: The Narrative of Craft, Art, Kindness and Justice.