ChickenBones: A Journal

for  Literary & Artistic African-American  Themes



The strawberries, too are large; / the size of three berries in one,

succulent as breasts, absurd as breasts / presented in small latticed boxes.



Books by Lee Meitzen Grue

Goodbye Silver, Silver Cloud  /  In the Sweet Balance of the Flesh   / French Quarter Poems  / Three Poets in New Orleans  / Downtown

CD Live! On Frenchmen Street

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At the French Market

By Lee Meitzen Grue

We buy vegetables the colors of coral and jade,

in the deep might of the man with his apron

in the deep night of the late radio.

We walk with hollow heels through the damp shed,

the peppers incredibly green, 

the tomatoes     lush as the fruits in dreams,

too ripe, too red,

I press their flesh, feel the skin under my fingers.

The strawberries, too are large;

the size of three berries in one,

succulent as breasts, absurd as breasts

presented in small latticed boxes.

I lift the boxes, view them from the bottom

where the berries are gray, whitely bearded.

I pass on down the hall, roofed by tin emptiness,

walled by night, and the wet sounds of tires.

I arrive.

there is a heavyman with hot eyes


His berries are larger, cheaper;

I lift the boxes.

They are perfect bottom and top.

He sells me two boxes cheaper still,

but over there near the front is something.

fern, very green,

with a white stalk plaited into itself like rope.

From down the black corridor you return to say:

It is anise.

How do I cook it? I ask the man with charred eyes.

Boil it, cook it in sauce, in salad eat the leaves.

I go back to the wooden box,

lift out strands of green hair,

some of it is a faded blonde. It seems old.

I pick near the bottom for the best,

but the heavyman comes,

and lifts out green after green after green

until he fills my hands

with a stalk as thick as my braid

and he says:

Eat the leaves.

I pinch small tendrils and stuff my mouth.

Lips nibbling green threads,

I am content feeding near large animals.

Finally, he takes his eyes and leaves.

My head lifts high with this taste of anise.

Long ago, in our low bed,

we drank anisette,

and the sweet fire in our throats

melted our arms and legs

into a center which still cradles

this small fire we carry

away from here.

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Source: French Quarter Poems (1979) Long Measure Press

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By Lee Meitzen Grue

Lee Grue is arguably one of the finest practitioners of poetry in New Orleans’ storied history. These superb writs are equal to the upwelling of jazz itself: from Tremé street corners, to the wayward French Quarter, to the carefree vibes of Bywater, all the way to back o’ town; this astonishing collection speaks from a mythic pantheon off yowls & beats as timeless as the Crescent City herself. “If you’re missing New Orleans, and you know what that means, you need to read Grue’s book front to back, place by place, time by time, name by name, everything that breaks your broken heart and asks it to sing. A generous, loving tribute to poetry and to New Orleans”—Dara Wier

 “Lee Grue’s work is one of the majestic pylons that keeps New Orleans above water, a pylon woven thickly and subtly from the city’s history. Her poetry weaves her personal history to the five centuries of the city’s own, a fabric stronger than the dreams of engineers. Lee Grue holds us all on the warm open hand of her music; she emanates the love that raises the soul levees”—Andrei Codrescu

Lee Meitzen Grue was born in Plaquemine, Louisiana, a small town upriver. New Orleans has been home for most of her life. She began reading her poetry at The Quorum Club during the early sixties. There she met musicians Eluard Burt and Maurice Martinez (bandleader Marty Most). Burt had just come back to New Orleans from San Francisco, where he had been influenced by the Beats. Eluard Burt and Lee Grue continued to work together over many years. Burt and his photographer wife, Kichea Burt, came home to New Orleans from California again in the nineties, where the three collaborated on a CD, Live! on Frenchmen Street. Eluard Burt passed in 2007.

Kichea Burt contributed some of the photographs in Grue’s book DOWNTOWN. During the intervening years Grue reared children, directed The New Orleans Poetry Forum workshop, and NEA poetry readings in the Backyard Poetry Theater. In 1982 she began editing New Laurel Review, an independent international literary journal which is still published today. She has lived downtown in the Bywater for thirty-five years. After the flood of 2005 she began teaching fiction and poetry at the Alvar Library, which is three blocks from her house. Her other books are: Trains and Other Intrusions, French Quarter Poems,  In the Sweet Balance of the Flesh, and Goodbye Silver, Silver Cloud, short fiction.

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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

1950        1960        1965        1970        1975        1980        1985        1990        1995        2000 ____ 2005        


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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 8 July 2008



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