June Jordan

(9 July 1936 - 14 June 2002 / United States)

1977: Poem For Mrs. Fannie Lou Hamer - Poem by June Jordan

You used to say, “June?
Honey when you come down here you
supposed to stay with me. Where
else?”
Meanin home
against the beer the shotguns and the
point of view of whitemen don’
never see Black anybodies without
some violent itch start up.
The ones who
said, “No Nigga’s Votin in This Town . . .
lessen it be feet first to the booth”
Then jailed you
beat you brutal
bloody/battered/beat
you blue beyond the feeling
of the terrible


And failed to stop you.
Only God could but He
wouldn’t stop
you
fortress from self-
pity


Humble as a woman anywhere
I remember finding you inside the laundromat
in Ruleville
lion spine relaxed/hell
what’s the point to courage
when you washin clothes?


But that took courage


just to sit there/target
to the killers lookin
for your singin face
perspirey through the rinse
and spin


and later
you stood mighty in the door on James Street
loud callin:

“BULLETS OR NO BULLETS!
THE FOOD IS COOKED
AN’ GETTIN COLD!”


We ate
A family tremulous but fortified
by turnips/okra/handpicked
like the lilies


filled to the very living
full
one solid gospel
(sanctified)


one gospel
(peace)


one full Black lily
luminescent
in a homemade field


of love


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Poem Submitted: Thursday, April 22, 2010



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