"My Father Is a Retired Magician" - Ntozake Shange


"My Father Is a Retired Magician"
(for ifa, p.t., & bisa)

my father is a retired magician
which accounts for my irregular behavior
everythin comes outta magic hats
or bottles wit no bottoms & parakeets
are as easy to get as a couple a rabbits
or 3 fifty cent pieces/ 1958

my daddy retired from magic & took
up another trade cuz this friend of mine
from the 3rd grade asked to be made white 
on the spot

what cd any self-respectin colored american magician
do wit such a outlandish request/ cept
put all them razzamatazz hocus pocus zippity-do-dah
thingamajigs away cuz
colored chirren believin in magic
waz becomin politically dangerous for the race
& waznt nobody gonna be made white
on the spot      just
from a clap of my daddy's hands

& the reason i'm so peculiar's 
cuz i been studyin up on my daddy's technique
& everythin i do is magic these days
& it's very colored
very now you see it/ now you
dont mess wit me
                 i come from a family of retired
sorcerers/ active houngans & pennyante fortune tellers
wit 41 million spirits critturs & celestial bodies  
on our side
              i'll listen to yr problems
              help wit yr career     yr lover     yr wanderin spouse
              make yr grandma's stay in heaven more gratifyin
              ease yr mother thru menopause & show yr son
              how to clean his room

YES YES YES       3 wishes is all you get
     scarlet ribbons for yr hair
        benwa balls via hong kong
           a miniature of machu picchu

all things are possible
but aint no colored magician in her right mind
gonna make you     white
        i mean
        this is blk magic
you lookin at
          & i'm fixin you up good/ fixin you up good n colored
& you gonna be colored all yr life
& you gonna love it/ bein colored/ all yr life/ colored & love it
love it/ bein colored/

Spell #7 from Upnorth-Outwest Geechee Jibara Quik Magic Trance Manual for Technologically Stressed Third World People

"Wild Prayer" - Ciera Durden






"Wild Prayer" - Ciera Durden

An apology now starts to form
When I mention I still believe in something holy.
The acknowledgement of that week’s list of horrors shared through whatever media bubbles up,
And I find myself almost defensive,
Like I’m protecting a cruel friend.

There is always the “despite of” that comes before
Explaining how I can still feel the divine
Run up the hidden veins in my legs when I touch the earth,
How some miracle splits the sky open every morning,
Even in the middle of all this pain. 

At this point, belief is nearly embarrassing,
And I find myself avoiding prayer because of it. 

At this point, not even sure what method could I cast out into
The great, wide what-have-you
To be heard.

On hopeful, naïve days, this scene of confrontation becomes
A quiet knock on the door
To ask whomever is crowded in the house of the universe’s center
To come out for a walk with me
And talk things over. 

“Listen,”
I might begin,
“You have done some really beautiful work here.
The cold fog rising up at dawn saved my life today.
And last night, I kissed someone who loved me as much as I love her.
I know you did that, 
But why this mess over here?
Why that suffering, that grief, that death?”

On other days, this scene falls apart,
The trap that prayer
Has never been a stroll in the park
As much as it has been tossing coins down the well,
Words bouncing in cheap copper plinks into the dark mouth
Of something that only gapes mutely back.

But this too falls apart
In the infuriating, but honest moments
When I feel something did answer back—
In how the car swerved that day and righted itself,
In the unexpected but certain press of comfort from a friend long-past,
In how you and I met that night, despite all of it,
During these times, I know
Just as I do not speak every language of every bright soul I meet,
Or understand immediately what the dog wants
In his wordless but earnest twitch of body—

Maybe this, too, shapes differently,
And to expect what or who made this all,
Every way to speak, to signal, to reach out and gather,
To answer in my one, small way
Is not how any of this works.

This is not the old excuse—
God works in mysterious ways—
This is not the final answer or any answer
To what evil we all felt yesterday.

This is only turning everything that the unknown made in me
Back to it
In love, and in fury,
Prayer a whole-body experience,
Worship a life of seeing and seen,
Every breath a question mark,
Every gesture a waiting, open hand.



It's time to celebrate fall at October's open mic! Featured will be poet Ciera Durden in a welcome visit back to Athens Word of Mouth.

Ciera has been a member of Athens Word of Mouth since 2011. Currently, she lives in Anderson, SC, and is looking to tap into the poetry scene in the South Carolina area. Her poetry focuses on confessional pieces, as well as themes on sexuality, religion, gender, and mysticism.
Open mic sign-up at the Globe is Wednesday October 3 @ 7 p.m. and readings begin upstairs at 8 p.m. See you there for this special night! [Photo by David Noah]