Amiri Baraka, Diana Di Prima, and I

Amiri Baraka and Diana Di Prima

This poem was inspired by this article in Tablet Magazine about the anti-Semitic poet Amiri Baraka (born LeRoi Jones) and his Jewish ex-wife Hettie Jones (née Cohen).



I was born to be swept off my feet by a hip brotha, poetic justice and a tight beat.
I was bred Ashekenzi on borscht, vodka and a new sound of the spoken word from the underground.
Why did you go?
When we started off, you loved my olive skin, curly hair and prominent nose…
From that, you swept me off my feet–a hip brotha and a tight beat.
When X died, though you wanted a sista (not me). Why did you desert me?
Your verses flowed with anti-Semitism aimed at me and brought me to my knees. “Smile, Jew. Dance, Jew. Tell me you love me, Jew. I got the extermination blues.”
Well guess what? Your f*k you, I can’t use!
All this time you were with us in Greenwhich Village—Allen Ginsburg, Diana Di Prima and I.
Who are you? The two of us are apart of one identity!
All you need is ahava.
All you need is us. In us we trust.
For we are hippie socialist ideals of trust.
How could you plant your seed in me?
Then, call me the enemy?
When X died, you wanted to go with Afrocentric sistas (not me) so you deserved me.
According to you, a Jew like me is the enemy.
But, if I am apart of you, how could I be the enemy?
For we are a beat, a verse, a song, a go go groove—Amiri Baraka, Diana Di Prima and myself (Hettie Jones).
No, Oh no NOT Jones when you knocked me off my feet.


Michele Amira is a student at the University of Maryland.

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