Poem by Gina Athena Ulysse

• February 2018

Ogu’s Sword & Brathwaite’s Pen

I can scarcely recall
the time
the context
when in conversation 
we spoke about Brathwaite 

Bel Bagay 
Rachel liked to say
expression of admiration 
recognition of fierceness
surrendering to deference

Bel Bagay
bel meaning beautiful 
bagay means thing
when she uttered these two words 
in rapid succession they became one 

Belbagay
no longer qualification of thing 
only beauty 

Cutting through dense air swiftly 
precisely like a sword
he wielded his pen
expert marksman 

They were comrades in arms 
who spoke only in parables 
they had been trained 
on the battlefield en tandem
often swapping their instruments 
for survival was imperative &
death was never an option 

Belbagay
no longer qualification of thing
only beauty

Go open the gates
He had been told
Go open the gates
Go open the gates

Scripting cursives on parchment lightly 
intently like a pen
he brandished his sword
expert wordsmith 

Blood brothers in warfare
one absorbed the gash
the other bore the scars
time traveling spirits sustain
wounds in this land of mortals
for survival was imperative &
death was never an option

Go open the gates 
Go open the gates
He had been told
Go open the gates

I can scarcely recall
the time
the context
when he was sent forth
with whispers of directives 

Go open the gates 
Go open the gates
Go open the gates

Belbagay
no longer qualification of thing 
Only Beauty

 

Gina Athena Ulysse is a feminist artist-anthropologist-activist and self-described post-Zora interventionist. Her performance work lies at the intersections of geopolitics, historical representations, and the dailiness of black diasporic conditions. Her artistic projects include Because When God Is Too Busy: Haiti, me & THE WORLD, a collection of photographs, performance texts, and poetry; and the avant-garde VooDooDoll: What if Haiti Were A Woman; On Ti Travay Sou 21 Pwen or an Alter(ed)native in Something Other Than Fiction; and BlackLiberationMashUp. Her newest work, “Remixed Ode to Rebel’s Spirit” has in conversation with ghosts at the British Museum. A widely published author, she is a professor of anthropology at Wesleyan University in Connecticut.

 

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