Gris-Gris is a journal of literature, culture, and the arts located at Nicholls State University in Thibodaux, Louisiana.
Our second issue features poetry by Pulitzer Prize winner Yusef Komunyakaa, Jimmy Santiago Baca, Ava Leavell Haymon, Ann Keniston, Jack Bedell, and others. Fiction by Karin C. Davidson, Robert James Russell, and others, as well as artwork by Dennis Sipiorski.
Negritude by Yusef Komunyakaa, from Issue Two
I have also been left singing Careless Love
but my negritude is nobody’s coonskin cap
on a mountaintop or down by the riverside.
My negritude has sucked all the joy juice
from the days of wild virginal forests
I made to kneel with axe & crosscut.
My negritude has beaten tom-toms
till the drawstring of doubt unraveled
& blood leaked on my blue suede shoes.
My negritude came a long ways to find me
in Louisiana beside beckoning quicksand,
a disappearing act & the double limbo.
My negritude is the caul worked into soil
brought back to life by cosmic desire
& gratitude baked into my daily bread.
My negritude sways before a viper’s
truth serum on an iron spearhead,
belladonna tucked behind my left ear.
From afar, Cesaire, your wit & fidelity
made me stumble-dance a half mile
here, beyond any puppet’s hallelujah,
while grandmama sat in a wheelchair
among the tangled rows of collards,
okra, speckled peas, & sweet corn,
digging with a hoe honed so many years
the blade was a quarter moon—all the
strength she had in her twisted body.
Now, even if this is a sign of my negritude,
I still remember a rain-drenched sun
rising out of the loony old scrub oaks.
Sure, I know the tiger neither speaks
of her tigritude nor the blood she’s left
on grass & wildflowers around the tombs.
*So how do you pronounce Gris-Gris anyway?