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.
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.