Amiri Baraka Passed Today

Amiri BarakaI took a moment to acknowledge the dimming of a bright light.  Then I started reading articles about Baraka’s life and writing.  I’ve read his work before, but none of what is being highlighted.

I’m recalling a poem that discusses lost things having more value and becoming priceless.  I may be embellishing, but things that weren’t that great sometimes become idols.  I remember pondering that poem and thinking about exes, the way our current situation sometimes makes us lie to ourselves about the past.

For a moment I wonder over an excerpt from one of Baraka’s poems about Jews.  Then I read about his first wife who is Jewish and their two daughters.

I’m lost in all the ways we sometimes surrender to who people expect us to be.  For some reason, I don’t believe he was anti-Semitic.

Then I am looking up things about Maya Angelou.  I’m reading a list of jobs she’s held: pimp, prostitute, actor, singer, dancer, poet and now professor.  I read that she was born in St. Louis, where I’m living currently.

I’m thinking about all the lives they’ve lived and all the places they’ve both been.  I’m thinking of how reading about Maya makes me feel freer to choose my heart’s desires.

The way Zora Neale Hurston’s life ended frightens me. The way Maya Angelou’s life is being lived gives me courage and hope.

And I’m a little less afraid.  Death always does that, helps us put things in a  little better perspective.

Rest in Peace Amiri Baraka/Leroi Jones

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