Wednesday 1 June 2022

One Poem by Antonia Alexandra Klimenko


America Sings the Blues 


It arrived one day—that One Long Moan… 

like Love   like Sex   like Jaaaazzzzz 

Came into its own with that Big Blue Bang    

light years in the making   Centuries  

before its cry took wing    

before it learned to sing    

its note born wet and kicking   

before it raised its voice as a Collective Soul 

in a people whose spirit was choking 

on aggression regression oppression depression 

the token introspection 

of the privileged few   


Pushed through slim hips of adversity 

as a bruised note through a horn 

intonations into nations 

the birth of the blues was born 

Raised on the lips the American way-- 

Ma Rainey John Lee Hooker Muddy Waters  

Bessie Smith  BB King Lady Day 

pain found a new form of expression 

and that's why they called it the blues 


Blue as in sky   Uni-verse   One Song   

a worried note   high on ether   

it rose like steam on the backs of those  

who still in chains raised their voices to greet her    

Those who were unwilling immigrants 

who never flashed a green card 

who never owned an anything   

not even   the shirts on their hunched backs 

that clothed and cottoned America 

Cotton-- the fiber of our lives--cotton 

Slaves who were never banned 

from entering the gates of servitude  

never banned from breaking their ass 

at the crack of dawn   on the crack of the whip 

of Georgia crackers 

Slaves on ships    that never made it to shore 


The birth of the blues  

is an American tradition  

of indentured servants 

worshipped by the corrupt  

and served up  

on the altar of human sacrifice 

served up 

on the altar of pain and suffering 

an acquired taste    

an altered consciousness  

a mixed marriage   

of power and fear 

of lust   and  hate 

Labour gone wrong for countless hours 

and who to rub its aching everything 

who to soothe its moan?   


The birth of the blues 

witnessed and mid-wifed by slave children 

children    weaned on the soured milk   

of give and forgive— 

a dark carriage   a miscarriage of justice 

The innocent  

whose own dreams were taken   forsaken 

before they learned to fly  

Whose dreams were aborted 

or died on backroom tables    in stables  

with sharp dirty and dull instruments   

Children running down blind alleys   pig alleys  

hemorrhaging down the leg of humanity-- 

rivers of blood across the peppered landscape    

leading in every direction  

to their unmarked graves 


The birth of the blues   

was not a stillbirth   

but a black and blue baby still 

whose bright music was flattened  

by cruelty and hardship   

Fluent in pain   it HOWLED through  

the bruised marrow of its hollowed bones 

before it learned to speak 

HOWLED with pain    and melancholy   

whose silent cry rises still above its own undying 

whose cry will not turn cold  

like the falling meteors of melting bullets  or stars      

whose cry was heard but never heeded 


A   baby born by Caesarean section 

cut from the umbilical cord 

the umbilical blues-chord   in b flat minor 

It s own African Mother—land of milk and honey— 

torn severed hands     for the sake of greed and money 

BORN to cry…  to inhale its first wail of freedom 

In the jails of its oppressors   in states of upheaval  

where it survived the holocaust of their mind 

and other NARROW escapes 

Survived   the burning crosses of pointed evil… 

the sap of blood and sorrow coursing through  

veins of unbearable branches…     

the haunting   wind in the leaves…     

tear-stained memories of loved ones  

left hanging   or on their knees 


O, I wish I was in the land of cotton 

Old times there are not forgotten 

Look away!  Look away!  Look away!  Dixieland… 



can no longer afford      

to look away 


is falling to its knees     

falling on hard times    

going into labour  

is begging you to please     

rise to the occasion 

to keep your hand on the plough 

to tote that bale   to work that field 

as only you know how 


is putting on its red shoes  

and DANCING the blues   romancing the blues-- 

the Americancan  Yes I can! dance    

Is pushing back is pushing forward is pushing its own self  

out of this swollen nightmare   

is giving voice to an UNCHAINED melody 

and singing it from the bowels of its being 

through Nature s pipeline     not the “alternative fact”  


And  its cry is rocking 

all four corners of  the crib 

is rocking all four corners of  Earth’s cradle-- 

a sister brotherhood 

an LGBTQ friendly  no longer on the QT   

a love-in for  HUMANKIND  

the kindness of strangers 

the Colour Purple the Colour Blind  

It cries out in black and white 

It cries out in Technicolor 

all over itself    

down its messy bib   

all over the nation     

all over creation 


The birth of the blues   

Is rising above Its own hues  

of the rednecked  and white   no stars in sight 

bars and stripes   alright— 

Riker s Island  Tent City  ADX--  

those who unlawfully arrest imprison and mutilate  

who unfurl their disgrace beyond borders of decency  

who hurl their sad anthems wherever they pleases  

who wave their ignorant arrogance in your face 

from sea to polluted sea 


The birth of the blues  

is having a rebirthing party 

Yeah ! on streets everywhere   near you 

is singing in every wing of Capitol Chill 

is echoing through hallowed halls 

is building bridges  mending fences  tearing down walls 

Rising from the shining lighthouse  

it marches with Martin Luther  Malcolm X and Mandela 

Cesar Chavez  Rosa Parks Langston Hughes Maya Angelou   

and all the blessed spirits who like blue notes  true notes  

have squeezed through Cape Horn   

the horn of plenty  and   plenty of nothin 

RISING   with all the anonymous greats  

poets artists activists ordinary extraordinary people 

like you and me   and whose names we’ve never heard 

It marches within and without us  

with the beating heart of every soul 

who planted his word like a seed on solid air 


The birth of the blues     

is our birthright    

is the old  and worn reborn 

will not die as hope  a silent death    

like that lump of regret stuck in our throat 

will not give up its breath for the Trumps   

and trumpets who toot their own horns 


The birth of the blues  

is coming   is coming  

to a sky near you   to a sky near you 

the one with no ceiling   

the one that brings healing 

of thee I am singing 

I have a dream   I have a dream 

Let Freedom Ring!  Let Freedom Ring!     

Of thee I sing!


Antonia Alexandra Klimenko was first introduced on the BBC and to the literary world by the legendary James Meary Tambimuttu of Poetry London–-publisher of T.S. Eliot, Dylan Thomas, Henry Miller and Bob Dylan, to name a few.  his death, it was his friend, the late great Kathleen Raine, who took an interest in her writing and encouraged her to publish.  A nominee for the Pushcart Prize and a former San Francisco Poetry Slam Champion, she is widely published. Her work has appeared in (among others) XXI Century World Literature (which she represents France) and Maintenant : Journal of Contemporary Dada Writing and Art archived at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. and New York’s Museum of Modern Art. She is the recipient of two grants: one from Poets in Need, of which Michael (100 Thousand Poets for Change) Rothenberg is a co-founder; the second—the 2018 Generosity Award bestowed on her by Kathleen Spivack and Joseph Murray for her outstanding service to international writers through SpokenWord Paris where she is Writer/ Poet in Residence.  Her collected poems On the Way to Invisible is forthcoming in 2022. 

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