Poem for April 26: Sterling Plumpp

Still Born Song by Sterling Plumpp

Sterling Plumpp

task is to solve my voice’s finger
tips’ extensions
for its daily languages
Where blues
is the negotiator of my songs

My diurnal moans
are survival kit
carsons exploring new
territory my voice finds
in Bessie Smith’s pig
foot and empty
bed again and again

there are no speed
limits in linguistic
voyages for self
expression of selves
lost no walkie
talkies surveying hiding
places for patrolmen with radar
guns aimed at pocket
billiards of your imagination

I come here
bound in chain
linked hostility

but weaving

language over avenues
of a thousand years
my memory has taught
seasons the geography of absent foot

Sterling Plumpp retired from teaching in 2001 to continue his writing.

my life I have
had border war
zones with authority

I am a power
forward pass in celestial
discourses with authority
where Jerry Rice argues
for slants over middle
of the road potions

And Karl
Marx drives in
side Lois
Lanes with is lef
hand finger
roll mastery over part
time lies the master
advertises as obedience

I sit naming names of nights
in their dark ward
robes of mystery in
side Hawkins’  The Midnight Tenor Man
Blues Sage  hawking  pains on boulevards of melodious
journeys through windows
of the soul Where the Middle Passage
rests in some black mother’s prayers
for delivery of her brown paper
bag of dry
bones with her still
born song’s name in it     No
body knows the troubles
I see coming down yonder’s wall

The Auction Block
club was
not about civic pride or neighbor
hood improvement    It was a gossip
column of marching thieves
ballads some
times sweep and clean house
boy’s ears for it   And Some
times I feel like a mother
less child cooked for it
Ornate With Smoke, copyright 1997 Third World Press.

[Tarvis Williams writes, in “Sterling Plumpp: A Biography” :

Sterling Plumpp was born in Clinton, Mississippi, on January 30, 1940.  He was reared by his maternal grandparents, Mattie and Victor Emmanuel.  They were sharecroppers, and Plumpp and his brother worked the fields with their grandparents (“The Characters” 1).  He and his family lived about ten miles from school, and there were no buses for them to ride.  Therefore, they did not start school until they were eight or nine years old, when they were able to walk the distance.  As a young boy, Plumpp never attended school a full year (Black Rituals 107-8).Black Rituals by Sterling Plumpp

At the age of fifteen he moved to Jackson, Mississippi, where he completed grammar and high school (Black Rituals 108).  Plumpp graduated as class valedictorian in 1960 (“The Characters” 2).  Later, he spent two horrible years at St. Benedict’s College.  He quit school and joined the Army, where he spent two learning years .  When he went to Chicago in the fall of 1962, he got a job in the main post office at Canal and Van Buren . . . read more here. ]


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