Saturday, May 24, 2014

Poems by Alvin Aubert

The Revolutionary
By Alvin Aubert

He is bound to make something happen
he is not quite sure what
but he is determined
he flits from flower to flower
he has more legs than a hive of bees
he takes everything out of them leaving them for dead.

It will be a long time before anything happen.
In the meantime he plies his adversary’s craft
on whomever is at hand and is useful to him
in that way, being bound as he is
to making something happen
something worthy of himself almost anything.....


Nat Turner in the Clearing
By Alvin Aubert

Ashes, Lord-
But warm still from the fire that cheered us,
Lighted us in this clearing where it seems
Scarcely an hour ago we feasted on
Burnt pig from our tormentors' in willing
Bounty and charted the high purpose you
Word had launched us on, And now, my comrades
Dead, or taken; your servant, pressed by the
Blood-drenched yelps of hounds, forsaken, save for
The stillness of the word that persist quivering
And breath-moist on his tongue; and these faint coals
Soon to be rushed to dying glow by the
Indifferent winds of miscarriage-What now,
My Lord? A priestess once, they say, could write
On leaves, unlock the time-bound spell of deeds
Undone. I let fall upon these pale remains
Your breath-moist word, preempt the winds, and give
Them now their one last glow, that some dark child
In time to come might pass this way and, in
This clearing, read and know....

Dog's Day

          a belated note to the editors of

The Norton Anthology of African American Literature

                                 By Alvin Aubert
Your new compendium was touted as the big one
and this is definitely not about sour grapes—its too
far gone for that anyhow seeing as how the damned
thing's already out; all the same, why in hell didn't
any of you see fit to include anything of mine in
your landmark new canon-making omnibus; could
it be you just don't know how damned good I can
be or that I even exist?

or is it that in all innocence you just never came
across any of my stuff despite the fact I had three
going on four books of poems out there—well, sort
of out there—and had poems in outstanding literary
mags as well as in a few other presumably note-
worthy anthologies for going on thirty years and
that I'm the recipient of two National Endowment
for the Arts awards for my poetry.
And I do happen to be African American, which is
what your new canon maker presumably is all
about and I am male and perhaps of significance
in that way, too; of African French and native
American stock, no doubt qualified however per-
riperally in that way to boot and over twenty-five
years ago I even launched a magazine for writers
of African descent worldwide called Obsidian,
that's still going on.

You must've come across my name somewhere;
my stuff's a damned sight better than some that's in
your celebrated compilation, if I say so myself but
never you mind, as the adage goes every dog has
 got his day and this old dog's day is bound to come
whether the old reaper get hold of his shrinking car-
cass first or not and indeed, in time, he might end up
amongst the best of the breed, if only in some pos-
thumous way; and hell (for the sake of some dubious
closing rhyme) I'm way past the age for this kind of
crap today.


Alvin Bernard Aubert: Born March 12, 1930 in Lutcher, Louisiana, passed away on January 7, 2014.

He left school early and worked until joining the U.S. Army in 1947. He earned his GED, progressed to the rank of master sergeant, and started reading poetry seriously. Aubert earned a BA from Southern University in Baton Rouge and an MA from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, where he was a Woodrow Wilson National Fellow. He pursued postgraduate work at the University of Illinois.

Aubert is the author of the poetry collections “Against the Blues” (1972), “Feeling Through” (1975), “A Noisesome Music” (1979), “South Louisiana: New and Selected Poems” (1985), “If Winter Come: Collected Poems 1967–1992” (1994), and “Harlem Wrestler and Other Poems” (1995). His poetry draws on his personal experience of growing up in a small Mississippi River town as well as his interest in African American cultural figures.

A career in teaching took Aubert back to Southern University, where he taught for ten years, to SUNY Fredonia and then to Wayne State University in Michigan, where he was professor and director of the Center for Black Studies as well as chair of Africana Studies. In 1975, he founded the journal Obsidian: Black Literature in Review, which was an early forum for African American literature and literary criticism.

Auberts’s honors include fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Callaloo Award, and the Xavier Activist for the Humanities Award.

If Winter Comes Can Spring Be Far Behind?
in memory of western new york

By Alvin Aubert

one could say, simply, everything,
everywhere, is white. but that
would strain the point.
one might just as well declare
affirmative action. instead,
one observes only, that, there are
snow banks still that, despite
the negligible precipitation, of
recent weeks, continue to grow,
mounting their stark precipices,
in the mind. mountains, and where
we are allowed to move at all
(one avoids saying "cliffs"), walls
of snow. deep white alleyways,
archeological in their alternate,
street plough shared layers of
dark and light dark and light,
of virginal snow and interim grime.
of solidifying all, the cold,
all movement whitely predetermined
and spring's inevitable advent
of minimal consolation.

"Black Nature: Four Centuries of African American Nature Poetry"
Edited by Camille Dungy

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