Academic journal article The Journal of Hip Hop Studies


Academic journal article The Journal of Hip Hop Studies


Article excerpt

A Memorial for Leon Damas


What do I say now to my children

That you wrote poems and made promises

Do I hand them a book and say

here read and understand

that his life was here with us in this World

And now Shango has received your soul

At the end of the dawn I see

You sitting cigarette in hand

Sipping a glass of wine

Listening to the cries of island birds

and barefoot children

At the tip of an archipelago in the Caribbean

on that rock where Frenchman

Made hell on earth for men white and black.


Now in this time of sorrow in this time, in this world

I have traveled a little ways

with you,

knew you,

loved you

Eyebrows arched, your voice

pot-marked with the

Accent of a different land

The quality of hurt and sorrow traversed through

Years of work to preserve a peoples Culture

To you life had not been a fair exchange

their clothes,

their speech,

their manners,

their hopes,

their music,

their art

In exchange for being the child of a former slave

and a Citizen of France


But what of it now when death finds us on every corner

You who sang with Sanghor, Rabiminjara, and Caesar

Who played the banjo not the guitar

The strings and tom-toms of your heart are silenced

Only the melody will be leftof a torch bearer

Who told us we looked ridiculous in

their shoes,

their pants,

their coats,

their shirts,

their top hats

Who remembered a world where bare feet

and brown earth

Touched and danced before they came

IV. …

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