Poetically Yours - Ep. 9 - Poet Fascinated With The African Dust Cloud

Oct 2, 2020

Welcome to Poetically Yours, where you'll hear the voices of Illinois poets as they share their words about the world around them. This week features Charles White.

Rockford poet Charles White.
Credit https://medium.com/@whitec1914

Estacious(Charles White) is a 23-year educator. He began writing over 25 years ago. His work experience encompasses managing schools and teaching a variety of subjects. His passions are poetry, short fiction, playwriting, and non-fiction. He won one of six prizes in the Rockford New Play Festival with West Side Show Room for his play “Incarcerated Christmas.” He is married with three children and a native of New Orleans.  

His poem "The African Dust Cloud" compares the cloud to the journey of African slaves.

White said he is intrigued by the enormous Saharan dust plume that’s entered the southern United States each year. This particular plume is one of the thickest ever seen, according to Weather Channel. The True Saharan Dust arrives in the USA every year but never of this size and thickness.

White said, “This dust cloud, to me, represents the millions of African slaves who toiled in the south to build the wealth of this nation. Each particle of dust comes from the homeland of my ancestors. This poem is for the ones who jumped ship into the Atlantic to be free on the waves instead of [in] bondage under the lash.”

The African Dust Cloud

An African dust cloud is coming

Laced with the DNA of my ancestors

Marching over the deadly graveyard

The middle passage

Wrapping the sun in brilliance

Darkening the skies where slaves once toiled

Dust particles transport stories

Mansa Musa glitters in brilliance

Gold drops from majestic and mighty fingers

Hannibal sits on an elephant in the haze

Crossing the Mississippi

Sprinkling memories of toils on cotton

That built false supreme beings

Reminds our nation of a great tragedy

Theft of the ones bearing melanin

The AFRICAN DUST is arriving

Providing strength in each sandy grain

It’s a reminder to the broken USA

Pay what you owe

Or continue to bleed out your humanity

  • Yvonne Boose is a 2020 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of the GroundTruth Project. It's a national service program that places talented journalists in local newsrooms like WNIJ. You can learn more about Report for America at wnij.org.