February 11th 1990 / Requiem for a Nest

Two poems today, because Wanda Coleman’s work is too good not to celebrate as much as possible. Wanda could write well about any topic, and from any angle, but she often focused on issues of class and race that affected her growing up in Los Angeles. She was an incredible poet, and one I highly recommend to virtually anyone.

The first poem today is “February 11th 1990,” written on the occasion of South African activist and poet Dennis Brutus, a refugee living in America at the time, being “unbanned” from South Africa. The second is “Requiem for a Nest,” a poem that screams Los Angeles to me in a way that is beautiful but dripping with sadness and frustration.

February 11th 1990
by Wanda Coleman

                                          —for Dennis Brutus
This year the leaves turn red green black
freedom colors each leaf
each stitch of grass. I am amazed
at my sweet harvest. The prison door has opened
and a nation’s heart is released. I am full
having spent my greediness in a ritual of joy.


Requiem for a Nest
by Wanda Coleman

the winged thang built her dream palace
amid the fine green eyes of a sheltering bough
she did not know it was urban turf
disguised as serenely delusionally rural
nor did she know the neighborhood was rife
with slant-mawed felines and those long-taloned
swoopers of prey. she was ignorant of the acidity & oil
that slowly polluted the earth, and was never
to detect the serpent coiled one strong limb below
following her nature she flitted and dove
for whatever blades twigs and mud
could be found under the humming blue
and created a hatchery for her spawn
not knowing all were doomed

One thought on “February 11th 1990 / Requiem for a Nest

  1. Reblogged this on Brian McGackin and commented:

    I love Wanda Coleman and wish that I had the chance to meet her while she was alive. Her poetry is fantastic, and I’ve heard that she was a wonderful person to spend time with.


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