Excerpts. 3

“Faith is not belief without proof, but trust without reservation.”
-D. Elton Trueblood

“If you hear a voice within you say you cannot paint, then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced. “
― Vincent Willem van Gogh

“I say again: only slavery was slavery. This is utterly deranged, and [Betsy DeVos] should resign.”
—Jamil Smith, Rolling Stone

“Very few Americans will directly proclaim that they are in favor of black people being left to the streets. But a very large number of Americans will do all they can to preserve the Dream. No one directly proclaimed that schools were designed to sanctify failure and destruction. But a great number of educators spoke of ‘personal responsibility’ in a country authored and sustained by a criminal responsibility. The point of this language of ‘intention’ and ‘personal responsibility’ is broad exoneration. Mistakes were made. Bodies were broken. People were enslaved. We meant well. We tried our best. “Good intention” is a hall pass through history, a sleeping pill that ensures the Dream. “
–Ta-Nehisi Coates, Between the World and Me

“Sorrow looks back. Worry looks around. Faith looks up.”
— Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Poetry is just the evidence of life. If your life is burning well, poetry is just the ash.”
—Leonard Cohen

“Don’t plant your bad days. They grow into weeks. The weeks grow into months. Before you know it, you got yourself a bad year. Take it from me – choke those little bad days. Choke ‘em down to nothing.”
~ Tom Waits

“The bitterest tears shed over graves are for words left unsaid and deeds left undone.”
~ Harriet Beecher Stowe

“her dream is red and raging.
she will remember
to build something human with it.”
—Lucille Clifton,  from “Night Vision”

Elise Valmorbida: “It is all the telling of tales.”
–from “Two Sides,” featured in Popshot Quarterly

“If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry.”
-Emily Dickinson

“It is at the edge of the
petal that love waits”
― William Carlos Williams

“I want the line-break to tell me something about how a poem feels: where a speaker butts up against silence.”
– Dana Levin

“These days I only revise for a more passionate syntax.”
—Yeats (answering very young John Berryman’s question about the secret of poetry)

Compiled by AfroDamus Jonze

Proverbs of Konfuzeus

Way way,  back in the day, when I thought of myself not only as a poet but also as a philosopher, I wrote this list of adages as a homage to Confucius.

1. Art is a way of life.

2. Only when one’s words evoke actions,
only when the authority of one’s words becomes more sustaining, will s/he impact the world.

3. Beauty is the art of original expression.

4. If & only when we can defy categorization, will humanity then & only then stand to prosper.

5. An absence of ignorance is a plenitude of beauty.

6. Mind is Reality.

7. There’s no need to choose favorite hues.
     All shades are beautiful,
     In all of us.

©1991, 2020

Excerpts. 2



“I found that I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn’t say in any other way, things that I had no words for.”
~ Georgia O’Keeffe

“The stream may prevent you from crossing, but it cannot prevent you from retracing your steps.”
– Hausa Proverb

“Americans believe in the reality of ‘race’ as a defined, indubitable feature of the natural world. Racism—the need to ascribe bone-deep features to people and then humiliate, reduce, and destroy them—inevitably follows from this inalterable condition. In this way, racism is rendered as the innocent daughter of Mother Nature, and one is left to deplore the Middle Passage or Trail of Tears the way one deplores an earthquake, a tornado, or any other phenomenon that can be cast as beyond the handiwork of men.

But race is the child of racism, not the father.”
~Ta-Nehesi Coates, Between the World and Me

“And you know now, if you did not before, that the police departments of your country have been endowed with the authority to destroy your body. It does not matter if the destruction is the result of an unfortunate overreaction. It does not matter if it originates in a misunderstanding. It does not matter if the destruction springs from a foolish policy. Sell cigarettes without the proper authority and your body can be destroyed. Resent the people trying to entrap your body and it can be destroyed. Turn into a dark stairwell and your body can be destroyed. The destroyers will rarely be held accountable. Mostly they will receive pensions. And destruction is merely the superlative form of a dominion whose prerogatives include friskings, detainings, beatings, and humiliations. All of this is common to black people. And all of this is old for black people. No one is held responsible.”
~Ta-Nehesi Coates, Between the World and Me

“I was looking for myself and asking everyone except myself questions which I, and only I, could answer. It took me a long time and much painful boomeranging of my expectations to achieve a realization everyone else appears to have been born with: That I am nobody but myself.”
―Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man

“Engage people with what they expect; it is what they are able to discern and confirms their projections. It settles them into predictable patterns of response, occupying their minds while you wait for the extraordinary moment — that which they cannot anticipate.”
~ Sun Tzu, The Art of War.

“If your opponent is of choleric temper, seek to irritate him. Pretend to be weak, that he may grow arrogant.”
~ Sun Tzu, The Art of War

“Hold out baits to entice the enemy. Feign disorder, and crush him.”
~ Sun Tzu, The Art of War

“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”
~ Sun Tzu, The Art of War

“The victorious strategist only seeks battle after the victory has been won, whereas he who is destined to defeat first fights and afterwards looks for victory.”
~ Sun Tzu, The Art of War

“No, I’m not going 10,000 miles from home to help murder and burn another poor nation simply to continue the domination of white slave masters of the darker people the world over. This is the day when such evils must come to an end. I have been warned that to take such a stand would cost me millions of dollars. But I have said it once and I will say it again. The real enemy of my people is here. I will not disgrace my religion, my people or myself by becoming a tool to enslave those who are fighting for their own justice, freedom and equality.”
—Muhammad Ali

“The real risk is not changing. I have to feel that I’m after something. If I make money, fine. But I’d rather be striving. It’s the striving, man, it’s that I want.”
-John Coltrane

“Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.”
—Melody Beattie

“Gratitude is the memory of the heart.”
—Jean-Baptiste Massieu

“Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.”
–Robert Louis Stevenson

Compiled by AfroDamus Jonze

Excerpts. 1

“Those who lack the courage will always find a philosophy to justify it.”
~ Albert Camus

“An absolutely necessary part of a writer’s equipment, almost as necessary as talent, is the ability to stand up under punishment, both the punishment the world hands out and the punishment he inflicts upon himself.”
—Irwin Shaw

“I have loved to the point of madness; that which is called madness, that which to me is the only sensible way to love. “
~ Françoise Sagan

“No culture has the right to impose the lifestyle and tradition of its ancestors upon others. No culture has the right to do that. And any culture that does that is leading you toward self-destruction, is leading you away from self-sufficiency and is leading you into dependency. Any culture that does not teach you to embrace the fullness and the totality of what you are is doing so because they want you to be dependent upon them. And whenever you are dependent upon another culture for your existence you have put yourself in the position of a non-being”
~ Iyalosa OlaOmi Akalatunde
“Your Culture is Your Nourishment”

“If a man walks in the woods for love of them half of each day, he is in danger of being regarded as a loafer. But if he spends his days as a speculator, shearing off those woods and making the earth bald before her time, he is deemed an industrious and enterprising citizen.”
— Henry David Thoreau

“I stand with Charlie Hebdo, as we all must, to defend the art of satire, which has always been a force for liberty and against tyranny, dishonesty and stupidity. ‘Respect for religion’ has become a code phrase meaning ‘fear of religion.’ Religions, like all other ideas, deserve criticism, satire, and, yes, our fearless disrespect.”
~ Salman Rushdie

“I write to appease the creative hunger raging in my soul.”
–Emmett Wheatfall

Compiled by AfroDamus Jonze

The Very Best of the Voices in My Head: The 5th and Final Side

1. “All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream in the dark recesses of the night awake in the day to find all was vanity. But the dreamers of day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, and make it possible.”
-T.E. Lawrence

2. “Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.”
~ T. S. Eliot

3. “Nothing will stop you from being creative so effectively as the fear of making a mistake.”
-John Cleese⁠

4. “A word after a word after a word is power.”
— Margaret Atwood

5. “I feel most colored when I am thrown against a sharp white background.”
~Zora Neale Hurston

6. “Art is long and life is short, and success is very far off. A work that aspires, however humbly, to the condition of art should carry its justification in every line.”
―Joseph Conrad 

7. “I want my free will and want it accompanying
the path which leads to action;
and want during times that beg questions,
where something is up,
to be among those in the know”
—Rainer Maria Rilke,  from “I Am Too Much Alone in This World, Yet Not Alone”

8. “Whatever the source of your name, I kiss you in that place.”
-Clark Coolidge, Letters

9. “I am irritated by my own writing. I am like a violinist whose ear is true, but whose fingers refuse to reproduce precisely the sound he hears within.”
— Gustave Flaubert