Unfortunately, The Same Death

UnknownRegarding:  The Black Unicorn:  Poems by Audre Lorde.

Audre Lorde was such a strong truth-teller and master of the craft of poetry. For me, her poems frankly pulsate with psychic power, love, womanist majesty, pain, and cruel facts no one wants to know but must.

I happened to be reading The Black Unicorn during the weeks when we learned that there would be no indictments for the police officers who killed Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO, and Eric Garner in New York City.  And while this collection of Lorde’s poems was published in 1978, two of the 67 poems in this collection—“The Same Death Over And Over or Lullabies Are For Children” and “Power“—mourn the death of Clifford Glover, a ten-year-old black boy who was killed by a white police officer in South Jamaica Queens, New York in 1973.

excerpt from “Power“:

I am trapped on a desert of raw gunshot wounds
and a dead child dragging his shattered black
face off the edge of my sleep
blood from his punctured cheeks and shoulders
is the only liquid for miles and my stomach
churns at the imagined taste while
my mouth splits into dry lips
without loyalty or reason
thirsting for the wetness of his blood
as it sinks into the whiteness
of the desert where I am lost
without imagery or magic
trying to make power out of hatred and destruction
trying to heal my dying son with kisses
only the sun will bleach his bones quicker.



  1. Leslie, this is powerful and important. Thank you. Right now, one of my favorite poets is Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. I just found his words for “Christmas Bells” in a collection of Christmas poems, and they seem written for this year:

    And in despair I bowed my head.
    “There is no peace on earth,” I said,
    for hate is strong and mocks the song
    of Peace on Earth, Good Will to Men.

    Then pealed the bells so loud and deep,
    “God is not dead, nor doth he sleep!
    The Wrong shall fail, the Right prevail
    with Peace on Earth, Good Will to Men!”

    Thank you so much.

  2. I haven’t yet had the pleasure of reading Audre Lorde but this one will definitely be on my list of books to read in 2015. I’ve been slowly but surely getting back into poetry and am loving it.The events in the past months concerning the police and African-Americans is the terrible sign that we all need to do better, that the underlying illness of racism still haunts America. Keep writing these meaningful posts and provoking deep thought through literature.

    1. Thank you, Jermaine, and Didi, for your comments. Racism in the United States runs deep and it is painful as well as shameful. Still, the U.S. also has a history of people who tell the truth and work to fight injustice, heal wounds, and bring beauty into the world—I count myself an heir to this history as well. I always appreciate when writers and artists create works that allow us to feel and think and discuss matters of the heart with each other. A growing stack of poetry collections are on my list for 2015, too! Who are some of your favorite poets?

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