Academic journal article The Journal of Pan African Studies (Online)

My Brother Antonio

Academic journal article The Journal of Pan African Studies (Online)

My Brother Antonio

Article excerpt

(A thank you note to the late Ieda Santos of the University of Bahia)

My brother Antonio,

dark poet of Brazil

dead before I knew you,

how we could have spent our days together;

Singing word songs of Bahia's hills

Dancing verbs

Running skies along Salvador's sensuous coast


because we are alive

Because nothing could/can kill us.

But I am not sure I can breathe your brilliance.

Feeling free when I think

You are wrestled back to life

for the beauty of your verses,

in the courtyards,

under the trees,

in lazy libraries where we still find them.

You are a mirror to a dark world

That makes us cry,

Antonio, my young eternal.

How did you find your soul

when generations after you forgot Africa

And today they only whisper Congo and Niger.

Antonio, we are held hostage in our ignorance

of gourds, palm wines, sacred rituals

and gods a plenty.

We are ignorant still.

But you, Antonio -

you called out our torturers

By name and by number

From all the corners of infamy.

Why must I discover you anew

in the homage of a scholar

When you so early sang the song of freedom,

the song of reclamation,

the song of the journey back through me to you

and on to tomorrow in the anthills of Africa.

Hail poet!

Death is uncomfortable in your arms

for I live in you.

Now I am witness, Antonio;

And the abominable horror of slavery,

the filling, suffocating, nauseating horror;

the kidnapping of kingdoms, the transporting of dark human gold,

the ghosts of drummers in the sky over the ocean graves,

the suffering mothers and terrified children,

warriors stewing in their own slops,

this horror you catalogued

builded a new monarchy on the shores of an island called America. …

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