ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes



i believe in ghosts, i do / because i would be soulless matter otherwise

i would be some french rationalist trying to intellectually manufacture

& market the focus of life as the ego of thought



Books by Kalamu ya Salaam


The Magic of JuJu: An Appreciation of the Black Arts Movement  /   360: A Revolution of Black Poets

Everywhere Is Someplace Else: A Literary Anthology  /  From A Bend in the River: 100 New Orleans Poets

Our Music Is No Accident   /  What Is Life: Reclaiming the Black Blues Self

My Story My Song (CD)


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By Kalamu ya Salaam


i have the smile of my great-grandmother seeing the end of slavery

& you have the hairline of an uncle/an aunt

who never pressed nor otherwise chemically altered their hair


only fools don’t intimately know ghosts

the dna of humanity, leaping like porpoises slick out of the sea

and back into our walks, our mannerisms, the way we giggle

when nervous, blush when aroused, or spit fire words

in sputtering ocher anger facing back the cannibalism of capitalism


ghosts are

just spirits fluttering angel breaths thru our corpuscles

the wing hum of hummingbirds motivating us to sound

snatches of remembered songs, lyrics formerly unheard

in this lifetime, psychically transmuted across eras,

mali melodies maintained, aural treasures from our undying befores


face east young people, face east

imagine each line in your hand an ancestor

how well do you know the thoroughness of yesterday,

the arching influence of the previous century, the retrograde

of rationality, so slow compared to the velocity

of history smashing into the protons of personality


imagine, your voice is the texture of sun yat sen singing

a freedom song, your social erectness the reincarnated posture

of sitting bull standing barefoot  his clear eyes kissing dark earth,

imagine, your breath the aroma of emiliano zapata biting the bullet

of revolution and spitting fire on the butts of robber barons

and dark-faced overseers who the psychological sons

of simon legree in their twisted brutality towards their own people,

the defiance of your unsurrendering war stance could be ghana’s

yaa asantewa hurling up the west coast facing down british guns

confident that the religion of resistance will always outlive

the technology of repression, you could be the heroics of history,

a phantasmagoria of sacred strugglers vivifying the surge

of timeless protoplasm which careens through your veins

and gives substance to the willingness of your animated engagement

with the omnivorous enemies of the planet earth


ghosts are

sacred illuminations coloring our stratagems and meditations,

they are the realization of sanity, the moment we truly understand

just how wicked the west actually is, the translucent

lights on the front porches of our spirits beckoning, guiding our,

soft footsteps on the path, heading back homeward bound

dancing into the social circle of our collective selves


ghosts remind us

each individual is more than one, a communal hope chest

of ancient dreams actualized in the present


i believe in ghosts, i do

because i would be soulless matter otherwise

i would be some french rationalist trying to intellectually manufacture

& market the focus of life as the ego of thought, would be

some compassionate corporate ceo with spiritual arthritis

uninformed by the blessings of sharing while pretending

that material possessions elevate morality as if you are what you own

rather than are what you do/be in relation to others and the world



do not like vaults and crypts, nor fences and forts

red ghosts prefer sensitive personalities and wild open spaces,

every time we inhale a leaf shakes,

a tree or a weed offers us breath

give thanks to the grass for our daily inhalations


i am not a mystic

but i know there are ghosts

in the fecund topsoil which progress

callously covers with concrete,

i understand the reality that dust and dirt are airborne bones

pulverized by time into tiny particles


if you do not believe in ghosts

where do you think your spirit will be

when the corporeal temple of your familiar

crumbles into seemingly insignificant pebbles of peat or

when your temporal sanctuary dehydrates

once disconnected from the moisturizing of life’s cosmic juice,

when the way station of your flesh altar no longer receives offerings

& when you revert to what you were before your human being

was conceived and made flesh via the union of your parents,

won’t you be a ghost then?


there are literally millions of lives in your little finger


the karma of colonialism will not be undone

not unless and until the ghosts that reside

in the hosts of color worldwide can find a culture

which resonates daily contentment,


there will be no end to the wandering search for the promised land

unless and until ghost can live

inside the wholeness of beating hearts synchronized

in embracement, respecting the healing touch

of every manifestation of life no matter how small, obscure,

or ostensibly insignificant,

no calming the tempest,

no mediation of the disruption of our heritage

not unless and until ghosts can emigrate

into a peace filled community of souls such as we

ought to be, vessels of awareness, responsible in our openness

to offer wholesome residences for the motion flow

of history seeking future,


there will always be a wailing issuing out our mouths

unless and until ghosts can live and

comfortably reside, live, and rest inside, rest

in peace, rest in us














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Source:  Nia: Haiku, Sonnets, Sun Songs (manuscript)

*   *   *   *   *’s 25 Best Selling Books



#1 – Justify My Thug by Wahida Clark #2 – Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree #3 – Head Bangers: An APF Sexcapade by Zane #4 – Life Is Short But Wide by J. California Cooper #5 – Stackin’ Paper 2 Genesis’ Payback by Joy King #6 – Thug Lovin’ (Thug 4) by Wahida Clark #7 – When I Get Where I’m Going by Cheryl Robinson #8 – Casting the First Stone by Kimberla Lawson Roby #9 – The Sex Chronicles: Shattering the Myth by Zane

#10 – Covenant: A Thriller  by Brandon Massey

#11 – Diary Of A Street Diva  by Ashley and JaQuavis

#12 – Don’t Ever Tell  by Brandon Massey

#13 – For colored girls who have considered suicide  by Ntozake Shange

#14 – For the Love of Money : A Novel by Omar Tyree

#15 – Homemade Loves  by J. California Cooper

#16 – The Future Has a Past: Stories by J. California Cooper

#17 – Player Haters by Carl Weber

#18 – Purple Panties: An Anthology by Sidney Molare

#19 – Stackin’ Paper by Joy King

#20 – Children of the Street: An Inspector Darko Dawson Mystery by Kwei Quartey

#21 – The Upper Room by Mary Monroe

#22 – Thug Matrimony  by Wahida Clark

#23 – Thugs And The Women Who Love Them by Wahida Clark

#24 – Married Men by Carl Weber

#25 – I Dreamt I Was in Heaven – The Rampage of the Rufus Buck Gang by Leonce Gaiter


#1 – Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable #2 – Confessions of a Video Vixen by Karrine Steffans #3 – Dear G-Spot: Straight Talk About Sex and Love by Zane #4 – Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny by Hill Harper #5 – Peace from Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What You’re Going Through by Iyanla Vanzant #6 – Selected Writings and Speeches of Marcus Garvey by Marcus Garvey #7 – The Ebony Cookbook: A Date with a Dish by Freda DeKnight #8 – The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing #9 – The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter Godwin Woodson

#10 – John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History  by Ahati N. N. Toure

#11 – Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure by Tavis Smiley

#12 –The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

#13 – The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell

#14 – The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore

#15 – Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can’t Commit  by RM Johnson

#16 – Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins

#17 – Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell

#18 – A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle

#19 – John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard

#20 – Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris

#21 – Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife by Carleen Brice

#22 – 2012 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino #23 – Chicken Soup for the Prisoner’s Soul by Tom Lagana #24 – 101 Things Every Boy/Young Man of Color Should Know by LaMarr Darnell Shields

#25 – Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class  by Lisa B. Thompson

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Salvage the Bones

A Novel by Jesmyn Ward

On one level, Salvage the Bones is a simple story about a poor black family that’s about to be trashed by one of the most deadly hurricanes in U.S. history. What makes the novel so powerful, though, is the way Ward winds private passions with that menace gathering force out in the Gulf of Mexico. Without a hint of pretension, in the simple lives of these poor people living among chickens and abandoned cars, she evokes the tenacious love and desperation of classical tragedy. The force that pushes back against Katrina’s inexorable winds is the voice of Ward’s narrator, a 14-year-old girl named Esch, the only daughter among four siblings. Precocious, passionate and sensitive, she speaks almost entirely in phrases soaked in her family’s raw land. Everything here is gritty, loamy and alive, as though the very soil were animated. Her brother’s “blood smells like wet hot earth after summer rain. . . . His scalp looks like fresh turned dirt.” Her father’s hands “are like gravel,” while her own hand “slides through his grip like a wet fish,” and a handsome boy’s “muscles jabbered like chickens.” Admittedly, Ward can push so hard on this simile-obsessed style that her paragraphs risk sounding like a compost heap, but this isn’t usually just metaphor for metaphor’s sake. She conveys something fundamental about Esch’s fluid state of mind: her figurative sense of the world in which all things correspond and connect. She and her brothers live in a ramshackle house steeped in grief since their mother died giving birth to her last child. . . . What remains, what’s salvaged, is something indomitable in these tough siblings, the strength of their love, the permanence of their devotion.—


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The New Jim Crow

Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness

By Michele Alexander

Contrary to the rosy picture of race embodied in Barack Obama’s political success and Oprah Winfrey’s financial success, legal scholar Alexander argues vigorously and persuasively that [w]e have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it. Jim Crow and legal racial segregation has been replaced by mass incarceration as a system of social control (More African Americans are under correctional control today… than were enslaved in 1850). Alexander reviews American racial history from the colonies to the Clinton administration, delineating its transformation into the war on drugs. She offers an acute analysis of the effect of this mass incarceration upon former inmates who will be discriminated against, legally, for the rest of their lives, denied employment, housing, education, and public benefits. Most provocatively, she reveals how both the move toward colorblindness and affirmative action may blur our vision of injustice: most Americans know and don’t know the truth about mass incarceration—but her carefully researched, deeply engaging, and thoroughly readable book should change that.—Publishers Weekly

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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 12 January 2012




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