The New San Francisco Poetry Underground:
Baraka Noel


“Mumbles” Baraka Noel

Originally published in The Evergreen Review Issue 126 in 2011.

letters from a lunatic
in the ashes of evening

i.m told there.s a flag on the moon

it doesn.t wave. it hangs
still and alone in the empty air

old earthen steel carved deep
into crater. and i want to see it:

planted with strong hands and
live footage for a nation of un
blinking eyes. unthinking minds

i heard of love

with no knives and stitches
no wounds open and no scars

no crying in the dark

i heard of freedom
but i didn.t believe it.

cuz they said the panthers
were terrorists. they said

protect and serve
and cast a ballot.

they said pray to jesus and
they killed freddy in his bed.

set ablaze the remains of
children in villages with
names never heard.

they told us we.d be safe

if we only tithe and pay taxes on time.
if we didn.t ask too many questions.

if we speak our minds
quietly enough to be ignored.

and my friends are so dumb
we think we can change it.

we are so fucking stupid: we want to believe.
in anything. in a fucking flag. not waving.
still and lonely. so i want to meet god.

i want to see that flag.

i want to see it with
my fucking hands.

i want to taste more than my tongue.

walk anywhere with out
tread ing on the skull and
spine of another survivor

who couldn.t fight it any more.

i want to see a cherry blossom
without imagining its ruined
shadow on a broken wall in japan

i.m searching the sky for diamonds

that were never plucked out of ash
by gloved hands of the gestapo.

never pried from the fingers
of a child.s severed hand.

they told me of the banquets
but all i heard was the ears

of rotting corn dug up from
the graves of plague victims

in the years before our flags were sewn

out of cotton. of scraps
of union and blood

of red coats. in the arthritic
hands of a forgotten griot
of shango. of the nile. who.s

milk flowed free and white
enough to feed one baby

one spoiled infant

and quiet the starvation
of his brother in the shed

in manhattan. in delaware. miami. seattle. in
places built on graves and named after warriors.

i can.t remember who killed.
and i can.t live in apology

too many victims and i
never heard their screams.

my god has her nipples pierced.
she is walking. from birmingham

to montgomery. across the mississippi
to the missions. through mazachtlan

listening for the growls of panthers
and guerrillas. echoes of sandanistas
treading pathways through the amazon

she is digging holes in egypt
searching for survivors. of my lai

of nagasaki. 9/11.
she wears no uniform.

she holds a trumpet in one hand
and a razor underneath her tongue

and leads her children from hatred to home.

my god is lonely. she is calling us closer. begging
forgiveness for this knife of love she wields.

she is with me. in the shadows and in twilight.
i don.t believe in her. but i.m hoping she.s here

so i can stop searching the sky for flags.
i am asking her to open me. cut out my eyes

and plant this vision in earth that never
never ever belonged to anyone.

. . .