Postcard from Hell.
Article Type: Poem
Author: Lewis, Rudolph
Pub Date: 11/01/2010
Publication: Name: Journal of Pan African Studies Publisher: Journal of Pan African Studies Audience: Academic Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Social sciences Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2010 Journal of Pan African Studies ISSN: 0888-6601
Issue: Date: Nov, 2010 Source Volume: 4 Source Issue: 1
Accession Number: 306754377
Full Text: Rudolph Lewis (born 1948 in Baltimore, Maryland) was raised by his grandparents William and Ella Lewis of Jarratt, Virginia in the Village of Jerusalem. He attended Creath, No. 5 (a one-room, one-teacher school) and later graduated from the all-black Central High (Sussex). In 1965 he left home to attend Morgan State College. After hearing in 1967 Stokely Carmichael, Walter Lively, and Bob Moore speak in 1967 on Black responsibility and leadership, he left Morgan "to join the revolution."

He spent several years (beginning 1969) as an organizer for Local 1199 (Health Care Workers Union), married in 1972 to Evelyn Duncan, and divorced her in 1976. Resigning from 1199 in 1974, he worked a number of temporary jobs, including taxi driver, coal analyst, porter and pot-washer at Maryland General Hospital.

He graduated with a B.A (1978) and M.A. (1981) degrees in English from the University of Maryland, College Park. After graduation, he taught writing and literature as an adjunct professor at University of the District of Columbia and the University of Maryland. In 1982, he spent ten weeks with the Peace Corps in Zaire.

From 1991-1997, Lewis taught writing and other subjects in several adult education programs. During this period he spent a year in Morgan State's doctoral program in education (1991-1992), and completed from 1994-1997 a master's program in library science. From 1997-1999, he worked as a librarian for Enoch Pratt Free Library. After the publication of his edited volume of I Am New Orleans & Other Poems by Marcus B. Christian, Lewis again returned to the Village of Jerusalem where he collected the letters and stories of his grandmother Ella Lewis.

In November 2001, along with Kinya Kionygozi, he founded the website ChickenBones: A Journal (, which he continues to edit and which has become one of the most popular African-American websites on the internet, receiving over a half-million visitors in 2003 and expect over two million in 2010.

His poems have been published in Black Magnolias: A Literary Journal (2009), the anthology Let Loose on the World: Celebrating Amiri Baraka at 75 (2009). His 1985 interview was published in Conversations with Yusef Komunyakaa (2010), edited by Shirley A. James Hanshaw. In October 2009 he married Yvonne Willis and now lives in Finksburg, Maryland. He can be contacted at
Postcard from Hell

For Etheridge Knight

   A spoonful of death bubbling, spiked:
   knotted syringe, blood walls push back
   as it flows: nodding like fall flowers.

   On a Retreat corner is man smeared
   with oil and grease--open air garage
   between debris of warehouse fire

   and boarded house. Hooded boys hang
   near, evading cops. At Francis, is
   Ay Jay Deli & Store. Ma & Pa on jet

   for family in Korea. Her sister behind
   hard plastic, now. Folks say why don't
   they hire since she can't speak English.

   People search for work, travel all over
   the compass of our global world. One
   kid lives in a single family home.

   That one in third floor apartment, two
   rooms, five sleep on roaches--chicken
   box babies & TV. Last week the church

   tore down two buildings for a parking lot.
   Deacons don't live on these hard streets.
   Near the next xorner a garage of Garveyites

   from Kingston. Next, laundry workers lean
   in blue uniforms: grandmothers see through
   stones of July heat: wring hands, hush a cry.
Gale Copyright: Copyright 2010 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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