Saturday, May 19, 2018


City University of New York
The Graduate Center
34th Street on Fifth Avenue
Proshansky Auditorium
Friday May 18th 2018

July 9, 1936 – June 14, 2002
June Millicent Jordan was a Caribbean-American poet, essayist, teacher, and activist. She used her writing to discuss issues of gender, race, immigration, and representation.
(Link 1)
In an interview with Alternative Radio before her death, she was asked about the role of the poet in society:
"The role of the poet, beginning with my own childhood experience, is to deserve the trust of people who know that what you do is work with words." She continued: "Always to be as honest as possible and to be as careful about the trust invested in you as you possibly can. Then the task of a poet of color, a black poet, as a people hated and despised, is to rally the spirit of your folks…I have to get myself together and figure out an angle, a perspective, that is an offering, that other folks can use to pick themselves up, to rally and to continue or, even better, to jump higher, to reach extensively in solidarity with even more varieties of people to accomplish something."
(Link 2)
From Sea to Shining Sea
©1980 June Jordan

Natural order is being restored
Natural order means you take a pomegranate
that encapsulated plastic looking orb complete
with its little top/a childproof cap that you can
neither twist nor turn
and you keep the pomegranate stacked inside a wobbly
pyramid composed by 103 additional pomegranates
next to a sign saying 89 cents

Natural order is being restored
Natural order does not mean a pomegranate
split open to the seeds sucked by the tongue and lips
while teeth release the succulent sounds
of its voluptuous disintegration

The natural order is not about a good time
This is not a good time to be against
the natural order

Those Black bitches tore it up! Yakkety
yakkety complain complaints couldn’t see
no further than they got to have this
they got to have that they got to have
my job, Jack: my job!

To me it was Black men laid us wide open for the cut.
Busy telling us to go home. Sit tight.
Be sweet. So busy hanging tail and chasing
tail they didn’t have no time to take a good
look at the real deal.

Those macho bastards! They would rather blow
the whole thing up than give a little: It was
vote for spite: vote white for spite!

Fucken feminists turned themselves into bulldagger
dykes and scared the shit out of decent
smalltown people: That’s what happened.

Now I don’t even like niggers but they were
chewing into the middle of my paycheck
and not me but a lot of other white people
just got sick of it, sick of carrying
the niggers.

Old men run the government: You think that’s their problem?
Everyone of them is old and my parents and the old
people get out big numbers of them, voting for the dead

He’s eighteen just like all the rest.
Only thing he wants is a girl and a stereo
and hanging out hanging out. What
does he care about the country? What
did he care?

  Pomegranates 89¢ each

Frozen cans of orange juice.
Pre-washed spinach.
Onions by the bag.
Fresh pineapple with a printed
message from the import company.
Cherry tomatoes by the box.
Scallions rubberbanded by the bunch.
Frozen cans of orange juice.
Napkins available.
No credit please.

This is not such a hot
time for you or for me.

Natural order is being restored.
Designer jeans will be replaced by the designer
of the jeans.
Music will be replaced by reproduction
of the music.
Food will be replaced by information.
Above all the flag will be replaced by the flag.

  This was not a good time to be gay

Shortly before midnight a Wednesday
massacre felled eight homosexual Americans
and killed two: One man was on his way
to a delicatessen and the other
was on his way to a drink. Using an Israeli
submachine gun the killer fired into the crowd
later telling the police about the serpent in the garden
of his bloody heart, and so forth

  This was not a good time to be Black

Yesterday the Senate passed an anti-busing
rider and this morning the next head
of the Senate Judiciary said he would work
to repeal the Voter Registration
Act and this afternoon the Greensboro
jury fully acquitted members of the Klan
and the American Nazi party in the murder
of 5 citizens and in Youngstown Ohio and in Chattanooga
Tennessee and in Brooklyn and in Miami
and in Salt Lake City and in Portland Oregon
and in Detroit Michigan
and in Los Angeles and in Buffalo
Black American Black women and men
were murdered and the hearts
of two of the victims were carved
from the bodies of the victims, etcetera

  This was not a good time to be old

Streamliner plans for the Federal Budget
include elimination of Social Security
as it now exists; similarly Medicare and Medicaid
face severe reevaluation, among other things.

  This was not a good time to be young

Streamliner plans also include elimination
of the Office of Education and the military
draft becomes a drastic concern as the national
leadership boasts that this country will no longer
be bullied and blackmailed by wars for liberation or wars
for independence elsewhere on the planet, and the like

  This was not a good time to be a pomegranate ripening on a tree

  This was not a good time to be a child

Suicide rates among the young reached
alltime highs as the incidence of child
abuse and sexual abuse
rose dramatically across the nation.
In Atlanta Georgia at least 28 Black
children have been murdered, with
several more missing and all of them feared dead, or
something of the sort.

  This was not a good time to be without a job

Unemployment Compensation and the minimum
wage have been identified as programs
that plague the poor and the young
who really require different incentives
towards initiative/pluck and so forth

  This was not a good time to have a job

Promising to preserve traditional
values of freedom, the new administration
intends to remove safety regulations
that interfere
with maximal productivity potential, etcetera.

  This was not a good time to be a woman

Pursuing the theme of traditional values of freedom
the new leadership has pledged its
opposition to the Equal Rights Amendment
that would in the words of the President
only throw the weaker sex into a vulnerable
position among mischievous men, and the like.

  This was not a good time to live in Queens

Trucks carrying explosive nuclear wastes will
exit from the Long Island Expressway and then
travel through residential streets of Queens
en route to the 59th Street bridge, and so on.

  This was not a good time to live in Arkansas

Occasional explosions caused by mystery
nuclear missiles have been cited
as cause for local alarm, among
other things.

  This was not a good time to live in Grand Forks North Dakota

Given the presence of a United States nuclear
missile base in Grand Forks North Dakota
the non-military residents of the area feel
that they live only a day to day distance from certain
annihilation, etcetera.

  This was not a good time to be married

The Pope has issued directives concerning
lust that make for difficult interaction
between otherwise interested parties

This was not a good time to be married.
This was not a good time to buy a house
at 18% interest.
This was not a good time to rent housing
on a completely decontrolled
rental market.
This was not a good time to be a Jew
when the national Klan agenda targets
Jews as well as Blacks among its
enemies of the purity of the people
This was not a good time to be a tree
This was not a good time to be a river
This was not a good time to be found with a gun
This was not a good time to be found without one
This was not a good time to be gay
This was not a good time to be Black
This was not a good time to be a pomegranate
or an orange
This was not a good time to be against
the natural order

—Wait a minute—

Sucked by the tongue and the lips
while the teeth release the succulence
of all voluptuous disintegration

I am turning under the trees
I am trailing blood into the rivers
I am walking loud along the streets
I am digging my nails and my heels into the land
I am opening my mouth
I am just about to touch the pomegranates
piled up precarious

This is a good time
This is the best time
This is the only time to come together




Exploding like the seeds of a natural disorder




grace Forrest~Maestas said...

i have read this...a few times...Out Loud. Out Loud.

what stands out in neon
"and so forth"
"among other things"

it has become that....etc etc and so forth

WHAT IS HAPPENING???????????????????????????????????????

Ms. said...

Grace--I hope you read the whole post...this poem was published in 1980 and is a historical document. Also, a whole lot of information is within the LINKS. The Friday night was part of a full day symposium about June Jordan and her contribution to history, feminism and poetry.