PALENQUE QUEEN BY
(to Assata Shakur in Exile)
Maroon Woman, feisty and sensual with Oshun beauty;
the fierce, blue Gulf waters wash daily over your shadow,
as you mingle with fragrant palms and tropical peoples
Political Exile. Twenty years have passed since the blast
of your Great Escape created havoc for the Empire;
now safe in an African palenque: Afro-Cuba, child
of Maceo and Marti, whose guerilla blood stains
the Caribbean proletarian red. But red is equally spiritual,
being Shango's color and that of mystic Olokun. Both
Yoruba orishas, African deities blessing the untamed,
warrior-spirit. Sista-woman; the years have calmed and
refined your spirit, deepened your eyes, broadened your
smile, unleashed your regal beauty. Maturity becomes you.
Blessed by Oya's rainbow, we behold the flamingo
embodied in the fledgling. A most captivating bird!
spreading her wings over her people's joyous Future.
Of course, 666 and Its minions blockade and spew death-
threats at the insurgent Isle. New Jersey's mini-skirted
Barbie doll threatens Fidel, even the Pope, demanding
You see, Oya's rainbow-radiance spreads joy
among our African captives; and even New Jersey stands in
danger of creating young Assatas to come. So Barbie,
||the governor, masquerades as Reagan's parrot,
puppet, tongue-kissing Jesse Helms in a Kodak Moment,
by demanding your head. But we, Thirty Million strong,
Million Man and Woman marchers, say:
"Hands off Assata, Republican witch! This Sista you won't
kill or turn into Oprah, hanging out with Uncle Sam.
She is ours; this Oya Woman, this Liberation Fighter,
this Warrior-queen, this child of Harriet Tubman,
is ours--the Black Nation's Champion; and we will
collectively Burn Down Babylon, if she is harmed in any
way (you do remember Rodney King?)"
in Habana are rhythmic with Afro-Cubano accents,
and friendships diminish Time's tyranny. O how
we wish your brilliant strategies could lead us, but
realize that only revolution will bring you home.
So bless us, Sista-woman; keep us in your heart, sing
victories at Bembes & strategy sessions, while we
"Carry the Tradition," as militants
raise New African banners
over Babylon, chanting your name & your song,
while we liberate this wretched land!
Boston, Ma. 4/8/98
Central Photo by Elana Levy
Design by KWEST ALA