Talking Drum #1

By  |  February 24, 2016
“God” by Bo Bartlett “God” by Bo Bartlett

Senegambia, West Africa, c. 18th century


In his call to the marketplace

the griot urges the skin     clasps

the first beat     He will eat tonight

for his message   I am listening

Code of the village that I left

What do you hear     Uh

The journey to the sea’s

moneyed beauty      Proverbs

in my footsteps       Teeth are white

but sit in a bed of blood      There are

many at the market      A noble

is accused of heresy       A man mortgaged

his nephew and bought a lovely

farm       The griot pulls the skin

sings tension on the air     Tomorrow

there will be war     He will

beat on smoke and wood

Who is coming    Uh     The women

brought hot peppers

The fishes’ eyes cry clearly

Listen to Honorée Fannone Jeffers read “Talking Drum #1”

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Honorée Fanonne Jeffers is the author of four books of poetry, including The Glory Gets. She grew up in North Carolina and her ancestral home of Georgia, but since 2002 has lived on the prairie. She teaches at the University of Oklahoma.