Black Power, a poem by Joel Solkoff (1968)

She moves to put a book
Back on it’s shelf.
And I see other
More forbidden fruit.

There is something new that comes

Repeating itself — reminding of the old

It’s the same, only it’s different

It’s not then; it’s now.

It hinders and it pushes

Aggravating to stillness and to motion

To vigor and serenity.

It’s spring again,

But it’s always spring again


She walks by wearing grapes in a forest of gay color

I feel like Tantalus

Trying to touch the cluster

That covers each delicate breast

She moves to put a book

Back on its shelf.

And I see other

More forbidden fruit.

The forest is short.

I’ve never seen her before.

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I sit trying to read Rostovtzeff

Whom I’m sure would understand–

Appreciating the historical process.

I imagine leaving my chair.

She’s left the room.

I agonize over agrarian reform.

It’s history; this history

Damned thing is always the same.


Spring in Atlanta

I remember no one

I remember driving

Up and down the hills

Seeing the purple blooms

And breathing the air.

Or Spring in Philadelphia

As I lay on the grass in the Arboretum

Reading of sensuous Atlanta

Of Baldwin’s imagining

A white man cutting his progenitor’s genitals.

Over the Black soil.

Cutting would bring a relief

So different from biting those grapes

And leaving again

The juice and the sap.


I hold my genitals in my hand

wondering wheter these delicacies

Are worth the necessary price

“Grapes right now are 95 cents a pound.

“Cherries are more expensive

“And besides, they are out of season.”

I’ve changed my mind.

I’m sorry. I don’t know what came over me.

It’s flowers I want.

My mind turns. Another skirt rides up.


First published 1970 in Prologue Poetry, Volume IV Number 3 by Editors Louis Phillips and Joshua Freedman at 515 East 78th Street NYC. Shortly afterward Gilbert Claude Jardine asked me to read the poem on WNYC-FM.

Joel Solkoff, US Editor, e-architect, USA

Please feel free to phone me at US 570-772-4909 or send an e-mail [email protected] Copyright © 2021 by Joel Solkoff. All rights reserved.