Instructions for Your New Osiris

Instructions for Your New Osiris




ChickenBones: A Journal

for  Literary & Artistic African-American  Themes




Another holds what’s left of pride / The day my best friend laughed dead in my face Because he knew she was his other best friend’s / Lady


                                                                                                                                                            Van G. Garrett



Books by Lorenzo Thomas


Dancing on Main Street  / Sing the Sun Up / Chances Are Few


*   *   *   *   *


Critical Analysis of 

“Instructions for Your New Osiris”

By Van G. Garrett


After reading Lorenzo Thomas’ poem “Instructions for Your New Osiris” excerpted from Chances Are Few I had a wonderful epiphany.  A revelation that spoke to me the way no Shakespearean sonnet has; the notion a breakup with a loved one can be skillfully written and well articulated, despite its bitter and turbulent past.

In the first stanza Thomas establishes the setting with immediacy. We are in the ex’s boudoir thinking about the absence of “Canopic old Egyptian jugs” that held the writer’s attention until his ex “Put them in her bag/ And toted them to her new lover’s house.” What is so wonderful about this stanza is it creates the scene, focuses on uncommon household items, and the manner which the lover takes or “totes” her wares to her new home.

Stanzas three and four portray the humanistic appeal of loneliness. The lines “My heart’s in one/ I’m dead / because no longer does my body hold a heart” illustrate the narrator’s despair and feelings of incompleteness. We realize metaphorically he is like the aforementioned jugs that once resided in the home—empty and jostled in transition. However, the poem’s sad tone shifts to a more profound realm of dejection in stanzas five through seven.

Another holds what’s left of pride

The day my best friend laughed in my face

Because he knew she was his other best friend’s


Another holds the essence

Of my self-respect

And still another, all my tenderness

For her

That’s all.

There’s nothing left

But dead politeness

The previous lines convey an extinguished pride, trampled respect, disregard of feelings, and an obvious lapse in communication. The writer’s dejected spirit later manifests into confusion and disdain as the poem progresses. We see how the ex “lies like the difficulty of game show questions” in a show the writer doesn’t understand. He is confused and seeks to ascertain answers to the drama that besets him.

In the last stanza we are not presented with a wonderful resolution, rather a nostalgic and weary frustration that tries to comprehend how a relationship that once appeared to be sincere has turned sour: “When I was still alive, before I knew/ The full name of the door,/ I used to speak of her and say/ “My Lady”. ”

Thomas’ poem reflects a conversational and honest tone which is notably his hallmark. “Instructions for Your New Osiris” is a great example of skillful writing about a very personal experience. This denouncement of a once loving muse also conjures the ancient Egyptian myth of Osiris; a tale where the protagonist’s physical vessel is captured, transformed, erected, and shattered because of his brother Typhon’s jealousy. A clever conceit future suitors of the poem’s ‘Isis’ may want to carefully consider.

*   *   *   *

Full Text of Poem

Instructions for Your New Osiris

By Lorenzo Thomas

Canopic old Egyptian jugs, The jars in her boudoir hold me. Or used to Since she’s moved them Put them in her bag And toted them to her new lover’s house

That’s what she throws in my face Since she no longer holds me Since she can’t stay around No longer

My heart’s in one

I’m dead because no longer does my body hold a heart

Another holds what’s left of pride The day my best friend laughed dead in my face Because he knew she was his other best friend’s Lady

Another holds the essence Of my self-respect And still another, all my tenderness For her

That’s all. There’s nothing left But dead politeness

Not even passion left to kick her ass

She lies progressively to me Each day, like the difficulty Of game show questions A little bitter more ridiculous each time And unbelievable

Where is Gene Rayburn? Adrienne Barbeau? George Gobel? Wally Cox? Familiar faces of the afternoon Clifton Davis? Margaret Daniels? It seems I just don’t understand this show.

Lying, she cheats

In front of my face, behind my back It doesn’t matter The only novelty is tonight’s choice A movie with my girlfriend Got a date, I really didn’t think you’d be in town Don’t hate me do you? Please don’t hate me please I’m sorry, but I didn’t think you’d mind Of how she wants to let me know We’re through

When I was still alive, before I knew The full name of the door, I used to speak of her and say “My Lady”

Source: Chances Are Few

*   *   *   *   *

Van G. Garrett, a writer, photographer, and teacher from Houston, TX can best be described as a “contemporary courier of creativity.”  Garrett, a 1999 graduate of Houston Baptist University, has a BA in English (with an emphasis in creative writing) and Mass Media (with an emphasis in print) which he has utilized as demonstrated by his various publications and honors.He was awarded the Danny Lee Lawrence prize for poetry in 1999, a 2002 Callaloo Creative Writing Fellowship for poetry, and his poems have appeared in Rolling Out, Life Imitating Art, Swirl, Drumvoices Review, Curbside Review, Shanks’ Mare, Urban Beat, E! Scene and elsewhere. His photography has appeared in Source, has been contracted by Capitol Records, and has been on display at the Museum of Fine Arts of Houston.

*   *   *   *   *’s 25 Best Selling Books

For July 1st through August 31st 2011  


#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

*   *   *   *   *

1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created

By Charles C. Mann

I’m a big fan of Charles Mann’s previous book 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus, in which he provides a sweeping and provocative examination of North and South America prior to the arrival of Christopher Columbus. It’s exhaustively researched but so wonderfully written that it’s anything but exhausting to read. With his follow-up, 1493, Mann has taken it to a new, truly global level. Building on the groundbreaking work of Alfred Crosby (author of The Columbian Exchange and, I’m proud to say, a fellow Nantucketer), Mann has written nothing less than the story of our world: how a planet of what were once several autonomous continents is quickly becoming a single, “globalized” entity.

Mann not only talked to countless scientists and researchers; he visited the places he writes about, and as a consequence, the book has a marvelously wide-ranging yet personal feel as we follow Mann from one far-flung corner of the world to the next. And always, the prose is masterful. In telling the improbable story of how Spanish and Chinese cultures collided in the Philippines in the sixteenth century, he takes us to the island of Mindoro whose “southern coast consists of a number of small bays, one next to another like tooth marks in an apple.” We learn how the spread of malaria, the potato, tobacco, guano, rubber plants, and sugar cane have disrupted and convulsed the planet and will continue to do so until we are finally living on one integrated or at least close-to-integrated Earth. Whether or not the human instigators of all this remarkable change will survive the process they helped to initiate more than five hundred years ago remains, Mann suggests in this monumental and revelatory book, an open question.

*   *   *   *   *

Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America

By Melissa V. Harris-Perry

According to the author, this society has historically exerted considerable pressure on black females to fit into one of a handful of stereotypes, primarily, the Mammy, the Matriarch or the Jezebel.  The selfless Mammy’s behavior is marked by a slavish devotion to white folks’ domestic concerns, often at the expense of those of her own family’s needs. By contrast, the relatively-hedonistic Jezebel is a sexually-insatiable temptress. And the Matriarch is generally thought of as an emasculating figure who denigrates black men, ala the characters Sapphire and Aunt Esther on the television shows Amos and Andy and Sanford and Son, respectively.     

Professor Perry points out how the propagation of these harmful myths have served the mainstream culture well. For instance, the Mammy suggests that it is almost second nature for black females to feel a maternal instinct towards Caucasian babies.

As for the source of the Jezebel, black women had no control over their own bodies during slavery given that they were being auctioned off and bred to maximize profits. Nonetheless, it was in the interest of plantation owners to propagate the lie that sisters were sluts inclined to mate indiscriminately.

*   *   *   *   *

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)

*   *   *   *   *

Ancient African Nations

*   *   *   *   *

If you like this page consider making a donation

online through PayPal

*   *   *   *   *

Negro Digest / Black World

Browse all issues

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


*   *   *   *   *

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

*   *   *   *   *

The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

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

*   *   *   *   *


*   *   *   *   *






update 8 July 2008 




Home  Thomas Long Table   Lorenzo Thomas Panel  

Related files: Instructions for Your New Osiris  The Cruelty of Age     12 jazz haiku  for nia long   It’s That Time Again   African Folktales   

Post Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.