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Return to Savannah
by Aberjhani
Rated "PG" by the Author.
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Having been reminded that March is Women’s History Month, I am presenting this poem in honor of the many contributions women have made and continue to make to struggles for human liberation and advancement all around the world. Photograph of Mrs. WillieMae Griffin Lloyd (January 27, 1922-February 8, 2006) born in Hephzibah, Georgia, USA, taken by Wallace E. Lloyd, Sr. Used by permission.



Memories: vicious

like a thicket made hot

with cobras. The wrong step

or an erroneous beat

of the heart
and I could turn
into a tower bursting with death.


Legends tell the tourists

that spectres roam this city

but I’ve no need of tales

to explain

the red-eyed shadows

hopping like squirrels

through the greenless branches

of my immediate apprehension.

I remember when they died.


Stand amazed, now,

watching them haunt

reflections of their former lives.

The tourists hear one story

but let me tell you another:

like the one about WillieMae

who had 14 children, 9 they say

still living,  just like she is

a blackwoman working split shifts

at what used to be the old

Desoto Hilton Hotel.

14 children, 9 still living

spanking, feeding, loving her brood

in-between preparing pastries

for people who’d rather not know.


But her story contains no irony

the husband died a death that was actual

and non-literary, her southern blackwoman's

life failed to reflect

the bohemian aesthetics of drag queens,

singers, and polka-dotted eccentrics

that made John Berendt’s garden party

glow so lusciously with decadence.


I could tell the story

of that scar, on WillieMae’s right leg

where police dogs

attacked like Klansmen

because she insisted that her children

laugh like anybody’s children

in the sun-caressed green of Forsyth Park.


But that history has not been preserved

like the architectural jewels

that adorn a shameless hypocrisy.

Nor has it been dramatized

at festivals or parades

stirring up the ghosts on River Street.

Nor immortalized

by a Ray Ellis watercolor

or a statue in the center of a square.


We could even flip this coin

of WillieMae’s tale

and recite the parable of how

she fed an entire neighborhood

with one fried chicken

and Jesus came back just to tell her

“WillieMae you did my recipe proud.

Hear what I  say girl?

You did my recipe proud.”

Shall we speak of that woman’s biography

like a hidden chapter of this city’s life

or shall we simply point

at a stupid little Hitch Village boy

feet covered with red dirt

and blackberry stains,

snot flowing like panic and river water,

some curious doctor's fingers

lost between his thighs

his dreams containing just enough genius

to save his mystified ass

from everything except

the slow knowledge of why

certain days stink putrid with agony.


Memories: vicious like a thicket

burning hot with cobras.

The wrong step

or an erroneous beat of the heart

and a man like me

could turn into a tower stinking with death.



(from I Made My Boy Out of Poetry)

by  Aberjhani



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Reviewed by Mary Elshaday
Your word effect still mesmerizes me Aberjhani. Only a very small minded people would treat others differently because of their skin color. This world is full of injustice yet even the Bible says that, the just shall live by faith. May your words live on and maybe, just maybe- touch millions who are still caught in the prison of 'small mindedness.' Kudos!
Reviewed by Sandi Schraut
This is most telling and most frightening in it's reality. I am white, not ashamed of that, yet ashamed that those with skin the same could behave so badly. Women of all skin colors can relate to these words, please keep sharing your message. Poets share a similiar flesh that transends the color of skin they possess I believe. Keep on sharing these imagesin words, everyone can learn from them, Thank You! I am a huge fan of the Harlem Renaissance especially Langston Hughes, who had similar sentiments expressed, you are at least his equal. Sandi
Reviewed by Richard Orey
Women are and have always been the backbone of society with their capacity to understand, love and support while many of the rest of us dangle our egos and wait to be admired.

"Return to Savannah" is a raw and knowledgeable posting. Thanks for sharing a bit of needed reality.

Reviewed by Randall Barfield
finally i got to read it. googled it and pop! accolades you have now, so, i'll just say great. flavorful. atmospheric. thanks for making it more available. cheers (again)
Reviewed by Robin Ouzman Hislop
some tremendous writing the first & last verses bringing such powerful poetic force to the whole content of the injustice to human life that we bring upon ourselves saludos robin
Reviewed by The Smoking Poet
What riches in your poetry, my good friend. What a dig for treasure.
Reviewed by Karla Dorman, The StormSpinner
You leave me breathless with the POWER in your imagery, your words--thank you is all I can say--

(((HUGS))) and love, and grateful thanks, Karla.
Reviewed by M. B.
Aberjhani, When I first read this in BOY I was stunned and left quite speechless, with much to ponder and contemplate. Reading it here again had further rendered me without words to descibe the pathos RETURN TO SAVANNAH wrought within this humble reader.

Recently, when reflecting about Willie Mae Griffin Lloyd, I came to know what I wanted to say.

The fact your beloved mother gave birth to fourteen children of which ten survived and one was shot down and rearing them alone because she lost her husband so young, is the stuff of goddesses.

Most women could not have survived that and lived to such a great age. And on top of all that, she was born black and a woman. Two marks against her from the moment she drew breath and still she had an indomitable strength and wherewithal to walk with her back straight, head held high, to rear ten children in a world hostile to her race and gender.

Amazing. Truly and stunningly incredible. She is a legend while still living. What stories that woman must have locked away in her mind and heart! What wisdom she's developed from living her life!

As with SUNRISE ELEGY, RETURN TO SAVANNAH is a sonic-boom of a masterpiece that shows no mercy and takes no prisoners.

~ Mari
Reviewed by Regis Auffray
A superb tribute and a lesson for me. Thank you for the teaching. Love and peace to you. Regis
Reviewed by David Young
A gem this is, a gem. Such a beautiful lady and a great poet.
Reviewed by Cynth'ya
Wonderful. But what about the other 11 months that would be "history" without women!?! (smile Brotha, you KNOW you want to!!!)

blessin's, hope all is well with your life.

cynth'ya lewis reed
Reviewed by Mitzi Jackson
really nice picture,
wonderfully crafted indeed
full and colorful and rich
that is our history
thanks enjoyed this
Reviewed by A Serviceable Villain

A beautifully written tribute to women everywhere ... masterfully crafted!!

Best regards,

Reviewed by Muhammad Al Mahdi
Powerful and great in remembrance. It celebrates the marks, scars, stains and traces of inextricable, indelible history that lives in us because we live in it and out of it. A profound warning, too, this is and a deep tribute to the profane and sacred lives of those women who constitute memory.
Reviewed by ~Indigo~ Elga
Dear Aberjhani,

The sadness and the truth reflected so vividly in this very emotional and powerful poem. Too often too many are immortalised for things nondescript. Heartaches sear, as some doctors elect to bury deep ... the truths!! Like her scars, ... they then avert their eyes. As with ALL children, laughter should be heard ! As with you... I am glad that you did not turn into a tower of stinking death. Memories: sad and truthful... but often, if we have the tenacity and perseverance we learn to overcome the obstacles, we are then able to look back with pride, and realise and remember, that it is someone just like you, who will remember and make the difference. Humanity has many lessons yet to learn, my wish and desire, that humanity be more accomodating and accepting, and less concerned with their own egotistical point of view.

Aberjhani, Thank You for this very thought provoking write.

warm hugs
Reviewed by Kenny Baez
strong black poem. The oppressed have a long memory. Drag queens, too, probably remember a lot of hurt and pain courtesy of the good old boys of yesteryear. Ain't it a shame the way society operates? Love of money and status and keeping up with the joneses and having someone to look down. No wonder i have deep misgivings about the human race.
Reviewed by Paul Williams
A magnificent watercolour of imagery and insight painted by a masters hand and heart...stunning work my friend.

Reviewed by Andre Bendavi ben-YEHU

This prose-poem speeds the boiling point of social history and supplies subjects to be studied on Fairness and Justice.

"Return to Savannah" delivers a message to honor memories, and
strikes the dynamo of reality.

This reader thanks the Author of "Return to Savannah" for enriching
the eternal pages of Poetry.

Andre Emmanuel Bendavi ben-YEHU
Reviewed by J. Allen Wilson
I really enjoyed this powerful read filled with the images of Savannah, and this strong woman. I could almost see the squares around bull street and could sense the struggle here...excellent write.

Allen...your neighbor in south carolina
Reviewed by jude forese
masterful how your images blend into the psychological mindset of social statement ...
Reviewed by Nordette Adams
A vein-ripping, nevertheless magnificent and touching tribute to a woman many probably mistook for ordinary when they saw her walking down the street after a hard days work, just another weary black woman, but who, like so many of our mothers, aunts, sisters, and grandmothers were warriors of the faith and of our people. Black yet reflecting the strength of woman universal, the ones who've stood in the gap and without whom we would have perished. Thank you for this, Aberjhani. ~~Nordette
Sunday, March 13, 2005/Second Visit: Still reflecting on your words:
    Shall we speak of that woman’s biography
    like a hidden chapter of this city’s life
    or shall we simply point...

It occurs to me that you have touched on another theme that runs throughout the diaspora and remains spiritually problematic for those who've benefited from the oppression of others. As we focus on the horrors of oppression, beneath our shame of man's inhumanity to man and the cirumstances that have enabled one group to flourish while digging its heels into the backs of another, do we often fail to see the common heroes and then fail to speak, giving them their due? (The importance of speaking is naturally related to how man has passed on humanity's history. We have an oral tradition. Words are power.) In looking at, seeing, and then speaking of what the seemingly ordinary person may endure to accomplish extraordinary feats in an unjust world, we are forced to see and speak of our own crimes, giving our failures a place in memory and history, making them flesh with voices all their own, something we'd prefer not to do. And so in hiding our own sins or the sins of our fathers, we have also hidden glorious tales that resound in triumph of the human spirit, all because we cannot bear to see and hear of our own ugliness in the light of such triumph.

No, we do not speak of such things. After a while, shaken by the guilt heaped upon us by new generations that reap the rage we've sown, we may glance and do lipservice, but then only see and speak of those images which are easiest to bear, the tears of a dirty, hungry child. We can grab a tissue for that and throw pennies out for bandaids, but dare we speak of the whole tale, how all our sins converged upon this one child's head, we might obliterate ourselves within the howls of those other people's anguish, the ones we've sinned against.

And so in never looking at the whole picture and in never speaking of the matter fully in a way that all voices may be heard, we never come to that fine point of reconciliation where all may be healed. Consequently, the children of wrath continue to spring up, and only the miracles of God may mold them to civilized souls or poets who drop words etched in heaven's gold. ~~Again, Nordette
Reviewed by George Carroll
What would this world be like without the women of the world to grace it.
Reviewed by E T Waldron
Aberjhani thank you for sharing this. Sometimes we who have never had this corruption to deal with have to dig deep to uncover the sadness we have hidden over past brutalities we wish to forget. I knew a woman a little like your Willie Mae,one of her daughters became my friend. I only hope the bias, etc can be considered ancient history one day. As always splendid writing I shall print this out and send it to my friend.

Reviewed by Judy Lloyd (Reader)
I did not see the photograph either. Since my last name is Lloyd it would have been interesting. Yet I agree with Jerry in that you could see her in the mind. I encountered many like her in my walk with cancer one of them was Grace Ward a true lady indeed.
Reviewed by Jerry Bolton (Reader)
Too bad the photo didn't take, would have loved to seen it. If you do get it up, how about letting me know, okay. Now, the poem. This WillieMae Griffin seems to me to be a little closer to the poet who wrote this stiring and sad/happy poem than first imagined. History will not record the scars and heartache of WillieMae Griffin, but you did. This was chilling in its depth and honesty. I saw her in my own mind. WillieMae Griffin, a stalwart women. Not tall, maybe, but stalwart nonetheless. So damn much that was in this poem just didn't have to be. But, of course, it did have to be because of corrupt humans, not just here in the South but across the world to where the poor souls were bought in the first place. Sader still, is that over there this barbaric act is still going on right in the face of the world, the UN and all countries who, again, turn a blind eye to the misery of human beings. I love this poem, I shall save it. I don't save many.
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