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Aaaayeee Babo (Praise God)

By Sonia Sanchez


There are women sailing the sky
I walk between them
They who wear silk, muslin and burlap skins touching mine
They who dance between urine and violets
They who are soiled disinherited angels with masculine eyes.

This earth is a hard symmetry
This earth of feverish war
This earth inflamed with hate
This patch of tongues corroding the earth’s air.
Who will journey to the place we require of humans?
I grow thin on these algebraic equations reduced to a final
     common denominator.


I turn away from funerals from morning lightning
I feast on rain and laughter
What is this sound I hear moving through our bones
I breathe out leaving our scent in the air.


I came to this life with serious hands
I came observing the terrorist eyes moving in and out of
     Southern corners
I wanted to be the color of bells
I wanted to surround trees and spill autumn from my fingers
I came to this life with serious feet–heard other footsteps
     gathering around me
Women whose bodies exploded with flowers.


Life is
from curled embryo
to greed
to flesh
webpages obscuring butterflies.

Our life
is a feast of flutes
orbiting chapels
no beggar women here
no treasonous spirit here
just a praise touch
created from our spirit tongues
We bring the noise of mountain language
We bring the noise of Sunday mansions
We enter together paddling a river of risks
in order to reshape This wind, This sea,
This sky, This dungeon of syllables
We have become nightingales singing us out of fear
Splashing the failed places with light.

We are here
On the green of leaves
On the shifting waves of blues,
Knowing once that our places divided us
Knowing once that our color divided us
Knowing once that our class divided us
Knowing once that our sex divided us
Knowing once that our country divided us
Now we carry the signature of women in our veins
Now we build our reconciliation canes in morning fields
Now the days no longer betray us
and we ascend into wave after wave of our blood milk.
What can we say without blood?


Her Story.
Herstory smiles at us.
Little by little we shall interpret the decorum of peace
Little by little we shall make circles of these triangular stars
We Shall strip-mine the world’s eyes of secrets
We shall gather up our voices
Braid them into our flesh like emeralds
Come. Bring us all the women’s hands
Let us knead calluses into smiles
Let us gather the mountains in our children’s eyes
Distill our unawakened love
Say hello to the mangoes
     the uninformed men
     the nuns
     the prostitutes
     the rainmothers
     the squirrels
     the clouds
     the homeless.
Come. Celebrate our footsteps insatiable as sudden breathing
Love curves the journey to these women sails
Love says Awoman. Awoman to these tongues of thunder

Come celebrate this prayer
I bring to our common ground.
It is enough
to confound the conquistadores
it is enough to shape our lace,
our name.
Make us become healers
Come celebrate the poor
the women
the gays
the lesbians
the men
the children
the black, brown, yellow, white
Sweat peeling with stories

Aaaaayeee babo.
I spit on the ground
I spit language on the dust
I spit memory on the water
I spit hope on this seminary
I spit teeth on the wonder of women, holy volcanic women
Recapturing the memory of our most sacred sounds.

where the drum speaks
come tongued by fire and water and bone
come praise God and
Ogun and Shango and
Olukun and Oya and
Come praise our innocence
our decision to be human
reenter the spirit of morning doves
and our God is near
I say our God is near
I say our God is near
Aaaayeee babo Aaaayeee babo Aaaayeee babo
(Praise God).


Added: Tuesday, December 19, 2017  /  From "SHAKE LOOSE MY SKIN," (Beacon Press, 1999). Used with permission.
Sonia Sanchez

Considered one of the most significant writers of the Black Arts Movement, Sonia Sanchez is the author of more than a dozen books of poetry, including, among others, Morning Haiku (Beacon Press, 2010), Homegirls and Handgrenades (White Pine Press, 2007), Shake Loose My Skin: New and Selected Poems (Beacon Press,1999), Like the Singing Coming Off the Drums: Love Poems (1998), and Does your house have lions? (1995), which was nominated for both the NAACP Image and National Book Critics Circle Award. Among the many honors she has received are the Community Service Award from the National Black Caucus of State Legislators, the Lucretia Mott Award, the Outstanding Arts Award from the Pennsylvania Coalition of 100 Black Women, the Peace and Freedom Award from the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, a National Endowment for the Arts Award, and a Pew Fellowship in the Arts. She was the first Presidential Fellow at Temple University, where she began teaching in 1977, and held the Laura Carnell Chair in English there until her retirement in 1999. She was the first Poet Laureate of Philadelphia. Learn more at Sonia Sanchez's website.

Sonia Sanchez is a Featured Poet for Split This Rock Poetry Festival: Poems of Provocation & Witness 2018. Learn more at the festival page at the website.

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