Word Works

By Saloy, Mona Lisa | African American Review, Spring 1993 | Go to article overview

Word Works


Saloy, Mona Lisa, African American Review


I'm about how words work up a gumbo of culture stamped and certified African delivered on southern American soil In my word house We spit out articles and prepositions like bitter chewing tobacco We lean on words that paint pictures of galait and grits and good times sittin' under gallery shades sippin' lemonade wearin' the afternoon like a new dress

This, my birthright, gives a sence of place that gets under your skin like a swamp leech or a good story out for blood The region gives you toast or beignets with jam The R&B, Blues, and Reggae rhythms spice Saturday-night suppers and street parades when the Grand Marshall leads the 2nd line after a funeral or any good excuse to party where umbrellas dance

Folk all colored from pale and yellow to midnight blue-black never just stand back and watch they gon' say it how they see it how they feel 'bout everything and then some from roaches to do-rags from daddy-do right to David Ku-Klux Duke to sisters wringing the barest budget for another meal So, here's a taste begun in a roux sauteed in lines like "trust a man as far as you can see him 'cause you know stiff stuff don't have no conscience"

Sista Sarah said She had nine kids and three grandkids didn't look a day over 40 Said she was preserved'cause "she left the fun box in and took the trouble box out"

Then Hebert cut in from the curb and fun was all he heard Said he was "the women's pet the sissy's regret and the whore's lollipop" And Sista Sarah said "pass the bread, 'cause that's baloney for true! …

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