My Brother Antonio.

Author:Jahannes, Ja A.

My Brother Antonio (A thank you note to the late Ieda Santos of the University of Bahia) My brother Antonio, dark poet of Brazil dead before I knew you, how we could have spent our days together; Singing word songs of Bahia's hills Dancing verbs Running skies along Salvador's sensuous coast Laughing because we are alive Because nothing could/can kill us. But I am not sure I can breathe your brilliance. Feeling free when I think You are wrestled back to life for the beauty of your verses, in the courtyards, under the trees, in lazy libraries where we still find them. You are a mirror to a dark world That makes us cry, Antonio, my young eternal. How did you find your soul when generations after you forgot Africa And today they only whisper Congo and Niger. Antonio, we are held hostage in our ignorance of gourds, palm wines, sacred rituals and gods a plenty. We are ignorant still. But you, Antonio--you called out our torturers By name and by number From all the corners of infamy. Why must I discover you anew in the homage of a scholar When you so early sang the song of freedom, the song of reclamation, the song of the journey back through me to you and on to tomorrow in the anthills of Africa. Hail poet! Death is uncomfortable in your arms for I live in you. Now I am witness, Antonio; And the abominable horror of slavery, the filling, suffocating, nauseating horror; the kidnapping of kingdoms, the transporting of dark human gold, the ghosts of drummers in the sky over the ocean graves, the suffering mothers and terrified children, warriors stewing in their own slops, this horror you catalogued builded a new monarchy on the shores of an island called America. You catalogued long centuries of suffering rape, hunger, lynching, inventories of infinite evil birthin'...

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