Ntozake Shange

(October 18, 1948 / Trenton, New Jersey)

My Father Is A Retired Magician

Poem by Ntozake Shange

(for ifa, p.t., & bisa)

my father is a retired magician
which accounts for my irregular behavior
everythin comes outta magic hats
or bottles wit no bottoms & parakeets
are as easy to get as a couple a rabbits
or 3 fifty cent pieces/ 1958

my daddy retired from magic & took
up another trade cuz this friend of mine
from the 3rd grade asked to be made white
on the spot

what cd any self-respectin colored american magician
do wit such a outlandish request/ cept
put all them razzamatazz hocus pocus zippity-do-dah
thingamajigs away cuz
colored chirren believin in magic
waz becomin politically dangerous for the race
& waznt nobody gonna be made white
on the spot just
from a clap of my daddy's hands

& the reason i'm so peculiar's
cuz i been studyin up on my daddy's technique
& everythin i do is magic these days
& it's very colored
very now you see it/ now you
dont mess wit me
i come from a family of retired
sorcerers/ active houngans & pennyante fortune tellers
wit 41 million spirits critturs & celestial bodies
on our side
i'll listen to yr problems
help wit yr career yr lover yr wanderin spouse
make yr grandma's stay in heaven more gratifyin
ease yr mother thru menopause & show yr son
how to clean his room

YES YES YES 3 wishes is all you get
scarlet ribbons for yr hair
benwa balls via hong kong
a miniature of machu picchu

all things are possible
but aint no colored magician in her right mind
gonna make you white
i mean
this is blk magic
you lookin at
& i'm fixin you up good/ fixin you up good n colored
& you gonna be colored all yr life
& you gonna love it/ bein colored/ all yr life/ colored & love it
love it/ bein colored/
Spell #7 from Upnorth-Outwest Geechee Jibara Quik Magic Trance Manual for Technologically Stressed Third World People


Comments about My Father Is A Retired Magician by Ntozake Shange

  • Dr Tony BrahminDr Tony Brahmin (6/5/2020 4:13:00 AM)

    all things are possible
    but aint no colored magician in her right mind
    gonna make you white
    i mean
    this is blk magic
    you lookin at..... all things are possible if only you will. tony(Report)Reply

    0 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
  • Hebert Logerie Sr.Hebert Logerie Sr. (6/5/2019 11:18:00 AM)

    I read your poem, but your dad was a physician. All medicals doctors are magicians; they either heal you or kill you by inadvertence or ignorance. Because doctors are not God.(Report)Reply

    0 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
  • Ansha TruterAnsha Truter (1/25/2015 7:13:00 AM)

    This is such a good poem!(Report)Reply

    2 person liked.
    3 person did not like.
  • Kim BarneyKim Barney (11/2/2014 6:06:00 AM)

    I loved this!
    I'm adding it to my favorite poem list.(Report)Reply

    4 person liked.
    2 person did not like.
  • Aftab Alam KhursheedAftab Alam Khursheed (11/2/2014 2:10:00 AM)

    truth is torched to the reader..read and know thank you(Report)Reply

    2 person liked.
    3 person did not like.
  • Paul Smith (11/2/2013 1:54:00 PM)

    This is beautiful stuff straight from the heart.(Report)Reply

    2 person liked.
    3 person did not like.
  • Anita SehgalAnita Sehgal (11/2/2012 11:28:00 AM)

    I loved your... wonderful way of putting across the most poignant issues!(Report)Reply

    0 person liked.
    3 person did not like.
  • Ntozake Stringfield (2/12/2006 8:55:00 AM)

    A wonderful poem. Its funny my middle name is Shange.(Report)Reply

    2 person liked.
    3 person did not like.
Read all 8 comments »



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Read poems about / on: magic, family, son, father, hair, friend, mother, heaven, life, love



Poem Submitted: Monday, January 20, 2003

Poem Edited: Wednesday, November 2, 2011