ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes



We were the New Men: / magic singers / riding soaring carpets to the stars.



Books by Askia M. Touré

From the Pyramids to the Projects: Poems of Genocide and Resistance!  / Dawnsong:The Epic Memory of Askia Toure

African Affirmations: Songs for Patriots Biography – Toure, Askia Muhammad Abu Bakr el (1938-)

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Osirian Rhapsody: A Myth

                    (for Larry Neal and Bob Marley)

By Askia M. Touré




He said he was seeking the wind,

the summits

          of its

          birth: those legendary heights

          composed of ice and snowdrift,

blue rocks of morning,


          to time’s crystal beginnings,

beyond the syllables

of endeavor: visions rooted in

forever, wafted in the silence of our dreams.


He was a tall, hawkish man,

     aquiline-eyed, rangy,

                             filled with

                                 strange longings,

silent passion

          danced in his voice–a poet,

some say–his angular figure draped


           a battered guitar, whose

melancholy soul conjured

moments of unspoken intimacy,

                                 filaments of desire

washing like tides across memory’s shores.


We sought him, sang by his side, those


       midnights when,

                         caught in the music’s enchantment,

expanded our vision:

            seeking the sonorous


                        of bardic rapture manifest

in charismatic overtones:

weaving textures, tonalities,

tattered dramas of our heartbroken destinies.



We were the New Men:

magic singers

riding soaring carpets to the stars.


     of creative ecstasy

              spread out before us,

while we chanted litanies of Rebirth,

bound (we thought)

to upset holocausts

this repressive, hidebound

                            earth had manifested,

creating tombs, jails,

infernos of the spirit,


                 angels of the mind.


He was our sage, our


                   genius-child: prophet of

      galactic metaphor,

      magus of angelic vistas

      of sunburst,

                   elevating legacies of dawn.


He said he was seeking the wind,

that roaring


                                  of monsoon velocities

in unsung archipelagos,

tropic vistas where

the emerald sacredness

                                  of vegetal beginnings

erupted in the womb of myth.


In ostrich-plumped epochs

of Nubian splendor,

he sought the scarifications

of secret wisdom

etched upon

               the indigo flesh of kings.


            in escalating decalogues

            of melody,

he rummaged through

the runes of harmony, to discover

the silver scales and ranges



                         released from Pyramids

                                         of monumental




Hawkman of audacious rhapsody, bearing

a new sun

       cradled in the Whirlwind’s voluptuous


obsidian sacrament to

archetypal passion evolving in

primordial darkness,

we chant: elaborate phallic megaliths


          electronic polyphony to languish

in the melody of your


Osiris of cyclical

                      Avatars: aboriginal pungent

             sepulcher baptized in

            totems of ancestral


                     We Oracles caress

          tendrils of


             crocodile fire

to fertilize the obeah

              of your Song!

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Notes to “Osirian Rhapsody: A Myth”

1. Hawkman. the royal falcon, or “hawk,” was the main symbol of the pharaohs. Each pharaoh was a Horus (Falcon, son of Osiris) while he lived, and became Osiris (King of the Underworld) upon death.

2. Whirlwind. Wind of change, symbolizing great tempests, revolution, social turbulence; also prophecy, among Afrikan Americans, e.g., Pan Afrikanist mass leader Marcus Garvey’s famous quotation, “If I die in Atlanta [in prison], look for me in the Whirlwind!” where he promised to return with hundreds of slave revolt leaders to aid his people in liberation wars.

Source: Dawnsong!The Epic Memory of Askia Toure By Askia M. Touré. Introduction by Joyce A. Joyce. Dawnsong! won the 2003 “Stephen Henderson Poetry Award.” – presented by the African-American Literature and Culture Society of the American Literature Association.

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Askia Muhammad Touré, right alongside Amiri Baraka , Larry Neal, Sonia Sanchez, Audre Lorde, June Jordan, etc., is considered one of the principal architects of the 1960s Black Arts/Black Aesthetic movements. A member of the legendary Umbra Group and of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, Touré has remained an activist poet of conscience throughout his years. His other books include Earth (1968), JuJu: Magic Songs for the Black Nation (with playwright Ben Caldwell / 1970), Songhai! (1972), and From the Pyramids to the Projects (1990), which won an American Book Award. Widely published in Black Scholar, Soulbook, Black Theatre, Black World, and Freedomways, his poems and essays have embodied the ideology of a people seeking to reclaim their images and history. His recent publications include two collections of poetry Mother Earth Responds: Green Poems and Alternative Visions (Whirlwind Press), and African Affirmations: Songs for Patriots (Africa World Press). 

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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Negro Digest / Black World

Browse all issues

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery /

George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 — The Founding of Haiti 

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update June 2008



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