This week we take a look at Sapphire’s poignant book of poetry entitled Black Wings and Blind Angels. Sapphire not only touches on lives colored by sexual abuse, violence,and abandonment, but also champions those who strive “to emerge from the pain of the past” and arrive at “the day you have been waiting for/when you would finally begin to live.”
With fierce candor and an unflinching eye, the highly praised author of Push journeys through the harsh realities of African American existence to find the “door to the possibility of now.” The heroes that emerge from these forty-seven vigorous poems confront the agony of betrayal as they strive in their quest for self-transformation and redemption.
On her own sexuality, she states in Black Wings and Blind Angels: “For me lesbian separtism was an identity chosen because of a desire to be free of men and male oppression (they were one and the same to me). But what began as a separtist and man-loathing identity, based on avoidance and escapism, evolved into a journey on which I began to heal myself from the trauma of childhood sexual abuse. Part of that healing has been being able to, after the devestation and betrayal of rape and childhood sexual abuse, love men again.”
At turns alarming and inspiring, the raw lyrics and piercing wisdom of Black Wings & Blind Angels remind us of Sapphire’s place as a unique and fearless voice in the world.
|ExcerptBreaking Karma #5
It is like a scene in a play.
His bald spot shines upward between dark tufts of hair.
We are sitting in a pool of light on the plastic
covered couch, Ernestine, his last live-in,
ended up with. But that is the end.
We are sitting in the beginning of our lives now
looking at our father upright in his black
reclining chair. It’s four of us then, children,
new to Los Angeles–drugs, sex, Watts burning,
Aretha, Michael Jackson, the murder of King,
haven’t happened yet.
He is explaining how things will be–
Which one will cook, which one will clean.
“Your mama,” he announces, “is not coming.”
Two thousand miles away in the yellow
linoleum light of her kitchen, my mother
is sitting in the easy tan-colored man’s lap.
Kissing him. Her perfect legs golden like
whiskey, his white shirt rolled up arms that
surround her like the smell of cake baking.
“Forget about her,” my father’s voice drops like
a curtain, “she doesn’t want you. She never did.”
Holding the photograph by its serrated edges, staring,
“Breaking Karma #6”
I’m in the movies now playing the part
like that bridge in Connecticut that collapsed
microphone & in a book she hasn’t read yet