(For Jesse Washington)
You stop breathing.
You are alive on a smoking breath between God’s fingers.
You scream on stolen air from someone else.
There is nothing left to explore but that which thunders another's pain.
They did not want you to discover flight, or shimmering air
They did not want you to kiss heaven, or God above the mountain.
They did not want his unveiled face to cloak your teeth
in tongues and fire.
They did not want you to go down to glory
in a grave filled with the hymns of round black mothers
and forgiving fathers.
You said you killed that white lady,
and now your neck hangs from a twisted shadow of fear
and 15,000 half moon smiles
in the stretching heat of Waco daylight.
When they pulled you from the courthouse
you felt the first blow
the clubs, shovels and bricks
smashed your body like St. Stephen’s prayer
Your hands crossed around your back,
Your face was the first skin to touch the baptism
an immersion of sweat, rage and coal oil
and eight other hands scurrying the length of your body
to be sure
that even the skin on the underside of your testicles had been coated,
the Mayor saw to that himself.
You choke on the oil in your nose
Your scream sounds like their scream
like when you howl with a baby
to make him hear himself and stop
but they do not stop
they pull your neck up to the sunlight
they dangle your feet above the firelight
this little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine…
A lamp unclothed.
No mystery, no falseness.
Crackle of fire
becomes scars that burn the length of your skin
plain as the veins
of a rose held up to light
if I had been your lover
or your sister
or your mother
in May of 1916,
I would have licked your wounds
until the blood and coal on my tongue
became a sword
like the tongue of Ezekiel’s God,
kissed your life back into you
if He would’ve let me.
Tuesday, August 31, 2004
Tuesday, August 24, 2004
The moon moves between her dress
and my sheets
Questions blush cratered skin above her chest
Between breaths she trembles
I am stretch of her bottom
she pulls, skin shivers
she touches my fundamental until it vibrates
making the skin above my lips
water, trickle, simmer
I am jealous of the moon's
She has run naked
from room to room
to appear at my door
I pull her hands into my tightened fist
feel heart stutter
blue turns open
comes to the top
Moon, you are ghost
walking through doors of night for a living
I rise and fall in bed
find secret corners
to touch what real lovers
do in the night.
I watch you sway away
even the door doesn't speak at your leaving
Dawn pushes me red awake
I touch my neckfolds for pulse
swallow mouth water
in raged secret
Sunrise overloves me
in 14 days
will be half smile and cruel.
Tuesday, August 17, 2004
So It's Come to This: an Abena Slam Clip Show...
So things got real slam busy these last few weeks. We did all those regional appearances around the city. And finally we made our way to St. Louis, Missouri the gateway to the west. Rather than map out the entire experience, here are the clips:
-I show up to the airport wearing my "Jesus is my homeboy" t-shirt. Fellow teammate Michael Cirelli shows up with a Kanye West "Jesus walks with me" t-shirt with the same image. Like we'd called each other. Then the girl behind us in line is wearing a "Jesus is my homeboy" t-shirt, like we were a Christian sandwich.
- On the plane I sit next to a baby girl named Tressa who happens to have the same birthday, (September 3rd) as me. She was a Sweetie-poo to the fullest.
-Opening ceremonies, the host, jokingly, insults us after we make a statement about protecting each other as artists and the ClearChannel deal. That lack of sensitivity was not the way to start up a week of poetry. But then poets speak words of encouragement and I get my first few bonding moments with folks from other cities.
-We come up with insane nicknames for each other, among them, tha GuiltyWomb(that's me of course), Dark Slope a.k.a. the Tsunami poet, and a host of others I can't say because a) I know the savvy among my students read my blog, even though they think I don't know or can't tell, and b) because the inside part of some of the inside jokes is so deep, it's intestinal!
- The mall closes at 3pm. The Thai place closes at 2pm. The Chinese food place closes at 9pm, well before any bouts are done. We are left with "Show Me's" the broke down St. Lou version of Hooters. Not even. We could have just been at a gym where the dress code was a t-shirt and shorts. There was no hooting to be done, only satin pink shorts and shiny "nude" pantyhose. Well, at least our waitress was a sweetie. But they don't know nothin' 'bout no crab cake!
- My favorite moment: Fish, arguably the biggest man I know, both in terms of size, intimidation, and personality, and he's from the bronx, and he's Puerto-Rican, and he dons an afro that rivals any 70's Jackson family photo, standing under the infamous arch, arms outstretched like Jesus, yelling at the top of his lungs, and much to the surprise/chagrin of passersby: "What...is the purpose...of...this...thing??!!"
-Many, many Disco naps.
-If you drink certain stuff, you sound like a blues musician in the morning. Just an observation.
-I had a really long conversation with a woman about aura. Yeah really, like the vibe you put out, or the one you experience. The kind of light that follows each of us around and how we embrace it. It made me think a lot about the way that I participate in certain emotions, especially joy. During one of our rehearsals, I was able to find a joy in one of my poems that I had never really considered. Among my many goals for the remainder of the year, make a point of finding joy, wherever it lives.
-Big revelation. I don't like the momentum of Slam as a format. It's too much like the poetry olympics. I do all of this preparation, I get amped, I bring my energy, and then maybe if I'm lucky I get to go, and get 3 minutes and 10 seconds to spend it all. For some people, and even for me at times, it's a rush. But mostly, it was an anxiety attack waiting to happen. In fact "the waiting is the hardest part." I knew this about myself going in,but it was heightened by the intensity of the experience. It was worth it, however to be on a team, to watch each other step up our game as performers, to learn about my poems in a deeper way, by getting deeper into them. And to share what you know with so many people, like a call and response. Those things I love about slam, but ultimately, the momentum of the competition and especially the new 3 X 5 format, had an impact on my experience. If I choose to go to NPS 2005 in New Mexico, it'll be to see all those folks from around the country again. But actually, I think I'm planning another trip to the homeland. I miss my family.
-that's all for now. I'm actually hailing from Georgia, and it's a beautiful day out. I think I'll hit the library.