Terebess Asia Online (TAO)


Haiku by Kalamu ya Salaam (1947-)

Selected Poems from
Nia: Haiku, Sonnets, Sun Songs (2002)
By neo-griot Kalamu ya Salaam

Kalamu ya Salaam ("Pen of Peace") was born Vallery Ferdinand III on March 24, 1947 in New Orleans, Louisiana.

The griot is a West African storyteller/historian/musician. In traditional societies the griot's status covered a spectrum of possibilities depending on the particular ethnic group. The griot ranged from an honored member of the king's court to a marginalized commentator on the society. The neo-griot concept, starts from the prospective of writers who are grounded in their particular community and who deal with both the history of their community and critical commentary on the contemporary conditions of their community. Additionally, the neo-griot employs the latest technology in their writing. Indeed, the neo-griot concept is one of writing with text, sound and light. Writing with text includes using the internet and the latest developments in publishing, which include "pdf" formats and publishing on demand. Writing with sound produces audio by using desktop editing and the burning of cds as well as recent developments in radio production. Writing with light focuses on using mini-digital cameras and desktop computer editing for the production of videos for distribution as vhs tapes, on cd rom, and streaming on the internet.


there's no night so long
that we can not ride through to
taste tomorrow's dawn


summer rain showers
fall, in renegade silence
i strip search my soul


today bottled tears
are sold as spring water, its
dog eat everything


anesthetized by
exhaustive activity
my hurt hurts me less


your patient water
indelibly sculpted my stone
your touch matured me


you pause on the edge
of me, testing my water
with your toe, please swim


night moans grip my waist
the arms of hurt snake round me,
i feel like a frog


thought i was gone but
my train rumbles in circles
each station is you


i'm desolate as
a wino sucking on some
discarded bottle


black people believe
in god, & i believe in
black people, amen


i enter your church
you receive my offerings
our screaming choirs merge


inspired by womb's gift
art is the only birth a
male can accomplish


the pheasant flies but
beauty's feathered sheen still shines
inside the seer's eye


what we know limits
us, wisdom loves everything
not yet understood


I think of you as
rain and I as dry earth cracked
beneath cloudless sky


your rain wets other
fields, my parched earth cracks, breaks, dry
beneath cloudless sky

#112 (for Mandela)

emerging from jail
their dragon/our butterfly
his smile is so huge


love gone is bird flown
sad sunset song tartly sung
without harmony


I tongue touch your flesh
Flower, spring sun slow sucking
Rose to trembling bloom


she soft tongue kissed my
thirsty skin quiet as a
breastfed baby's breath

bb explains why . . .

we'd be so damn means
if me and Lucille couldn't
sing these sad ass songs

Quarter Moon Rise

soft moon shimmers out
of cloudy dress, stirred by night's
suggestive caress

The Spice Of Life

cayenne in our blood
we dance, eat, laugh, cry & love
with peppered passion