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  • Black Wings & Blind Angels
  • Written by Sapphire
  • Format: Trade Paperback | ISBN: 9780679767312
  • Our Price: $12.00
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Black Wings & Blind Angels


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poetry (13) abuse (4)
poetry (13) abuse (4)


With fierce candor and an unflinching eye, the highly praised author of Push journeys through the harsh realities of African American existence to find the "door to the possibility of now." The heroes that emerge from these forty-seven vigorous poems confront the agony of betrayal as they strive in their quest for self-transformation and redemption.

From the city streets to the rich landscape of dreams, each of these poems holds out the "black wings of expectation" offering the chance to emerge from the pain of the past and arrive at "the day you have been waiting for/when you would finally begin to live." At turns alarming and inspiring, the raw lyrics and piercing wisdom of Black Wings & Blind Angels remind us of Sapphire's place as a unique and fearless voice.


Breaking Karma #5


It is like a scene in a play.
His bald spot shines upward between dark tufts of hair.
We are sitting in a pool of light on the plastic
covered couch, Ernestine, his last live-in,
ended up with. But that is the end.
We are sitting in the beginning of our lives now
looking at our father upright in his black
reclining chair. It's four of us then, children,
new to Los Angeles--drugs, sex, Watts burning,
Aretha, Michael Jackson, the murder of King,
haven't happened yet.
He is explaining how things will be--
Which one will cook, which one will clean.
"Your mama," he announces, "is not coming."
Two thousand miles away in the yellow
linoleum light of her kitchen, my mother
is sitting in the easy tan-colored man's lap.
Kissing him. Her perfect legs golden like
whiskey, his white shirt rolled up arms that
surround her like the smell of cake baking.
"Forget about her," my father's voice drops like
a curtain, "she doesn't want you. She never did."


Holding the photograph by its serrated edges, staring,
I know the dark grey of her lips is "Jubilee Red"
her face brown silk. I start with the slick
corner of the photograph, put it in my mouth like it's
pizza or something. I close my eyes, chew, swallow.

"Breaking Karma #6"

I'm in the movies now playing the part
of the girl who broke my heart.
My mouth, strobe-light pink, bounces off blue sequins.
Behind me the Stones sing "Miss You," hollering,
"There's some Puerto Rican girls around the corner
just dying to meet chu."
In the wings a white boy in a wheelchair moans,
"Oh operator please get straight."
SHE takes the stage now. Big yella gal.
Daddy was a wop. Mama was a nigger.
She's a singer. With a voice hot semi-liquid rock.
Her heels are hills, cobalt blue melting like
her dress into the firm breasts, fat hips & belly
of Black Los Angeles.
"Let's burn down the corn field," SHE wails.
It's 1968. Tito, Michael, Randy & Cato
are dancing down rows of rainbow colored corn
when a voice comes over the loud speaker:
There will be no ambulances tonight.
"We'll make love, we'll make love while it burns,"
SHE screams like Howlin' Wolf, like Jay Hawkins,
like Hank Williams, like Van Gogh's windmill,
like the severed ear of black wind in a plate
of pigtails & pink beans,

like that bridge in Connecticut that collapsed
under the center of air shaking like
change in a cup.
SHE stands like the big legs of a nuclear plant
cracked at the base melting down a room full
of $3/hr assembly line workers who hear her
& shout, "Honey Hush!" & the crack in their
mother's back becomes a sidewalk, then a road
leading to a peach tree in "Georgy"
or a pear tree in Florida.
I'm eating popcorn & watching a Mexican
dump a drunk paraplegic BORN ON THE FOURTH OF JULY
in the desert his granddad rolled over
a century ago killing for gold.
At the side of the road an Okie girl,
selling peanuts & semiprecious gems,
hands me three pieces of black obsidian,
called "Apache Tears," the Okie girl drawls,
"'cause after the cavalry massacred their men,
the Native women cried so hard
their tears turned black, then to stone."
Inside the theater the screen fills up
with a fat half breed burning, gasoline
in a blue dress. SHE picks up a

microphone & in a book she hasn't read yet
a white boy in a rented room puts
his eyes out with lye. "I rather!" SHE shouts.
"Tell it!" the audience shouts back. "Umm hmm,"
like the wind trapped in a slave castle SHE moans,
"I rather go blind," the screen melts white
drips down her face & disappears,
"than see you--"

About Sapphire

Sapphire - Black Wings & Blind Angels
Sapphire is the author of American Dreams, a collection of poetry which was cited by Publishers Weekly as, "One of the strongest debut collections of the nineties." Push, her novel, won the Book-of-the-Month Club Stephen Crane award for First Fiction, the Black Caucus of the American Library Association's First Novelist Award, and, in Great Britain, the Mind Book of the Year Award. Push was named by the Village Voice and Time Out New York as one of the top ten books of 1996. Push was nominated for an NAACP Image Award in the category of Outstanding Literary Work of Fiction. About her most recent book of poetry Poet's and Writer's Magazine wrote, "With her soul on the line in each verse, her latest collection, Black Wings & Blind Angels, retains Sapphire's incendiary power to win hearts and singe minds."
Sapphire's work has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, The New York Times Book Review, The Black Scholar, Spin, and Bomb. In February of 2007 Arizona State University presented PUSHing Boundaries, PUSHing Art: A Symposium on the Works of Sapphire. Sapphire's work has been translated into eleven languages and has been adapted for stage in the United States and Europe. Precious, the film adaption of her novel, recently won the Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Awards in the U.S. dramatic competition at Sundance (2009).


"Few literary works today are as affecting as [Sapphire's] or have had as much impact on our society." --Poets and Writers

"An enrapturing voice that charms and shocks." --The Miami Herald

"In Black Wings and Blind Angels, Sapphire hammers home pain until it is the shape of hope. . . . It is a must for poetry fans." --The Advocate

"[Sapphire's] characteristic intensity mixes with classical as well as experimental forms, excavating dreams, memory, and history to address a multitude of topics." --The Village Voice Literary Supplement

  • Black Wings & Blind Angels by Sapphire
  • September 12, 2000
  • Poetry
  • Vintage
  • $12.00
  • 9780679767312

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