Straight Out Scribes: Staajabu & V.S. Chochezi

“Black August and “The Visit”

Staajabu at Wild Poppies release, photo by Scott Braley
V.S. Chochezi at Wild Poppies release, photo by Scott Braley

Staajabu and V.S. Chochezi reading at the Wild Poppies CD release party, La Peña, Berkeley.
(see larger images)

Photos: Scott Braley

Staajabu is part of a mother-daughter poetry duo along with her daughter V.S. Chochezi, known as Straight Out Scribes. They have published six books of poetry, produced one CD with poetry, and their writings have appeared in publications too numerous to mention.

Their self-published books are: Crucial Comments and Vicious Verses, BAMM, This Queendom Come, Taking Names and Pointing Fingers, African Reflections, and Scribes Rising. They also have a CD entitled Mind Quake.

Scribes Rising, their newest publication, is a poetry anthology including some of their newest work, old favorites, and poems by Junior Scribes, Jessicah and Tisho.

See their own Straight Out Scribes web site.

Black August

Marilyn Buck

Would you hang on a cliff's edge
sword-sharp, slashing fingers
while jackboot screws stomp heels
on peeled-flesh bones
and laugh
             "let go! die, damn you, die!"
could you hang on
20 years, 30 years?

20 years, 30 years and more
brave Black brothers buried
in US koncentration kamps
they hang on
Black light shining in torture chambers
             Ruchell, Yogi, Sundiata, Sekou,
             Warren, Chip, Seth, Herman, Jalil,
             and more and more
they resist: Black August

Nat Turner insurrection chief executed: Black August
Jonathan, George dead in battle's light: Black August
Fred Hampton, Black Panthers, African Brotherhood murdered: Black August
Kuwasi Balagoon, Nuh Abdul Quyyam captured warriors dead: Black August
Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, Ella Baker, Ida B. Wells
Queen Mother Moore – their last breaths drawn fighting death: Black August

Black August: watchword
for Black liberation for human liberation
sword to sever the shackles

light to lead children of every nation to safety
Black August remembrance
resist the amerikkan nightmare
for life

© 2000                    

The Visit


The pain is too acute as we watch
Our brother/son/husband/friend
Herded by fat, uniformed, vacant eyed guards
Back to a hell that seems to never end
Except for our visit.
It’s a sharp stab to the heart
A vertigo that starts in the head
Knowing that these men
Strong yellow/brown/black/red
Might be dead before our next visit.

The hurt overwhelms goes to the core
A collective ache felt by us all
As we leave our
In the cells, rooms, dorms and halls
And we start to grieve, crying
In silence for a longer visit
We leave by car, bus, train and plane
Their face on our minds their touch still felt
Words and kisses warm on our ear
We slump in our seats and try to melt
Into the memories of our too short visit.

Whistles, bells, headcounts lines
We sit or stand for hours it seems
As the life behind the prison walls
The hellish life and what it means
Bombards us in the visiting halls
Waiting watching for our visit
We fill out the forms
Wait in the lines
Go through the metal detector a thousand times
The sounds that reach us shock us so
We can hardly talk when at least we meet
Our brother /son/husband/friend
As the gate finally opens and we smile and greet
Them on another visit.

Our hearts beat fast.
Do I look alright? What will he say?
You know he called last night.
Cowboy is back in here again.
He stayed out almost a year this time
Chile, James just got out the hole
Said a chump on A Tier told.
I swore I wasn’t comin’ up her no more
Junior bring your butt back here before-
Shaniqua let me fix your hair
TJ, look, look over there
Here comes your daddy

First published in “BAMM!"
By V.S. Chochezi and Staajabu

poems © the authors
compilation © The Freedom Archives