John Williams – TB

6 Mar

John Williams, I am, though
John Williams is not my name.
This name, I was given by history.

Ships, roads and dogs,
All have been named more aptly.

Williams, where are you?
I’ve come to bring back your name.
Only then can I be a freedman.

I could take the name of a flower
If flowers only grew in such hard places.
Then I’d be known as sunflower.

And so I’m Sunflower, where from?
I don’t remember being African.
All I know is my roots are in slavery.

For Ray L Jasper


9 Responses to “John Williams – TB”

  1. Kenia Cris March 7, 2014 at 3:01 am #

    It’s late, I’m sleepy and I can’t even begin to explain how much I like this poem. I’ll come back again tomorrow. ❤

  2. Kenia Cris March 8, 2014 at 11:23 pm #

    I’m never sure to have said enough about certain things when I read them. This poem being one of them now. I haven’t had formal teaching in poetry, I wish I had. But I do like to cut a poem in small parts when I read it, then in lines, then words and then put all the parts back together.

    This is beautiful for many reasons, I’ve given you a few already. I would like to hear the idea behind it when you have time.


    • crayfish March 8, 2014 at 11:29 pm #

      I was reading letters of a chap on death row and he was black. He wrote that he had never so many black people before he was sent to prison. He thought he was in Africa.

  3. Kathryn Dyche Dechairo March 10, 2014 at 4:09 pm #

    Powerful and thought provoking.

  4. Sherry Blue Sky March 10, 2014 at 4:48 pm #

    This is a fantastic poem that goes right to the heart. The taking back of the name in order to be a freedman…..and “all I know are my roots were in slavery.” Brilliant writing.

  5. Marian March 10, 2014 at 7:46 pm #

    ships, roads, dogs named more aptly. such a statement.

  6. kaykuala March 11, 2014 at 12:55 am #

    Beautifully set Crayfish! You sock it like it is. One struggles to find one’s roots and often don’t find the right answers.


  7. Sharp Little Pencil March 11, 2014 at 1:28 am #

    Oh, such a wise poem. Giving back the European name is certainly one step in an African-America former slave’s journey. The idea of other earthly things, especially dogs, having more fitting names is striking. This reminds me of “12 Years a Slave,” in which he is given a new name, a slave name… history has a long way to go before we truly do justice to the torture, rape, and slavery of Black peoples. (So why don’t more Anglos see the damned movie? This post should help them understand; I wrote one saying, “You’ve already seen Hunger Games, or could it be you can’t HANDLE the truth?”

    And excellent commentary. Will forward the link to several like-minded poets. Thanks so much, Amy

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