Friday, July 11, 2014

Diartspora Gallery: A Home For African-American Art

If twitter is good for nothing else, it gives me a plethora of great art to view online and drool over and dream about being able to afford it. This is the case with Diartspora. A great range of art, mediums and subjects. Here's a few of my favorites. To view more paintings/sculptures/et al and browse Diartspora's website, click here.


Jazz Cafe

Voodoo Couple Dance: Cati Ya Sone De Malheur

One-Eyed Dancer

Portrait -- Woman With Orange Shawl

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Miraculous Reflection

Miraculous Reflection
"We do not see things as they are. We see them as we are." 
—The Talmud
Today in our meditation we will explore the mirror of relationship. This is the idea that all of our relationships are a reflection of ourselves. The people we are attracted to are those who have traits that we have, only more so. We enjoy their company because we subconsciously feel that being with them will help us to cultivate and manifest those traits even more in our own lives. In the same way, we are repelled by people who reflect back to us traits that that are difficult to face in our own selves.
The mirror of relationship is a valuable tool that we can use to see ourselves more clearly and to expand our awareness. As we become willing to embrace the light and shadow that we all possess, we bring love and healing to ourselves and our relationships.
Our centering thought for today is:
The world is my mirror.

Pay attention to the lessons that you can learn from others today. Observe your reactions to the many people who cross your path. When you can see that everyone in the world is simply sharing your own consciousness, you will lose the need to judge others and open to greater understanding and love. With each encounter you have, observe carefully and repeat these words silently to yourself, “In you I see me, in me I see you.” Feel the compassion in your heart open and witness how the way you see the world begins to change.

(This meditation is taken from Deepak Chopra and Oprah's 21 Day Meditation series, click the "Meditation" tab for more, others will follow)

Raz Simone - Bow Down

Raz Simone releases the music video to one of the cuts from Cognitive Dissonance. Animation by Carina Simmons. Video directed by Joe Garber. This is a bit dark for summer time, but alas it is a powerful set of visuals to compliment Simone's lyrics.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Getting to Know Leonard Cohen

Before he was catapulted into the national spotlight with his hit song "Hallelujah," Leonard Cohen was a poet. This documentary provides a brief look into his body of work and his life. Be advised, the video cuts out about half way through the 38th minute. But it surely is a great 38 minute glimpse into the talent and life that is Leonard Cohen.

Friday, July 4, 2014

4th of July Poems

We Spent the 4th of July In Bed by Suheir Hammad

I Hear America Singing by Walt Whitman

I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear,
Those of mechanics, each one singing his as it should be blithe and strong,
The carpenter singing his as he measures his plank or beam,
The mason singing his as he makes ready for work, or leaves off work,
The boatman singing what belongs to him in his boat, the deckhand singing on the steamboat deck,
The shoemaker singing as he sits on his bench, the hatter singing as he stands,
The wood-cutter’s song, the ploughboy’s on his way in the morning, or at noon intermission or at sundown,
The delicious singing of the mother, or of the young wife at work, or of the girl sewing or washing,
Each singing what belongs to him or her and to none else,
The day what belongs to the day—at night the party of young fellows, robust, friendly,
Singing with open mouths their strong melodious songs.

For more 4th of July poems, The Poetry Foundation has compiled quite a nice collection for your reading pleasure. For those, click here.

Monday, June 30, 2014

The Source's Exclusive Interview With Saul Williams

The Source was very privileged to have the opportunity to speak with Musician, Actor, Poet,  Saul Williams, who plays the lead role of “John” in the newly opened Broadway musical “Holler If Ya Hear Me” (read our review here) ; inspired by and centered around the life and music of the late Tupac Shakur.Sitting outside of his favorite local coffee shop in Harlem, New York (the same place Shakur was born) Williams spoke PASSIONATELY about the process of taking the role, what Tupac meant to him an so much more.
It may be a bit of a long read but we implore you to really listen to this incredible human beings words, as he reflects on someone who meant so much to so many

The full interview can be found here.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Metaphysical Insomnia Jazz/Mumonkan xxix. - Philip Whalen

(L-R: Lew Welch, Gary Snyder, Philip Whalen. 1963)

So this poem is floating around in dabs on the internet but I feel like it doesn't have the reach that it deserves. So to all 7 of you reading this, I hope you enjoy this poem! It is found in Overtime, Selected Poems by Philip Whalen.

Metaphysical Insomnia Jazz
Mumonkan xxix.

Course I could go to sleep right here
With all the lights on & the radio going

(April is behind the refrigerator)

Far from the wicked city
    Far from the virtuous town
     I met my fragile Kitty
    In her greeny silken gown

fairly near the summit of Nanga Parbat & back again, the wind
flapping the prayer-flags


Hypnotized by the windshield swipes, Mt. Harold Wood:
"Back & forth; back & forth."

                    We walked beside the moony lake
Eating dried apricots
                              Lemons bananas & bright wedding cake
& benefits forgot
& now I'm in my bed alone
Wide awake as any stone

Friday, June 27, 2014

Where do our thoughts come from?

This isn't exactly a meditation. Although I'm tagging it as "Meditation," because this is something to *think* about. Or something to be aware of. A worthwhile exercise I have found is to just sit and be with your thoughts. Bring awareness to your constant chattering mind. Just notice it. Are there any patterns? Are there any reoccurring themes?

We find the body difficult to speak - Jack Spicer

We find the body difficult to speak,
The face too hard to hear through,
We find that eyes in kissing stammer
And that having groins
Babble like idiots.
Sex is an ache of mouth. The
Squeak our bodies make
When they rub mouths against each other
Trying to talk.
Like silent little children we embrace,
Aching together.
And love is emptiness of ear. As cure
We put a face against our ear
And listen to it as we would a shell,
Soothed by its roar.
We find the body difficult, and speak
Across its wall like strangers

- Jack Spicer

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Vince Staples Interviewed By Jesse Thorn

Excellent, informative interview with Long Beach, California rising star Vince Staples. 21 minutes. The best part of this interview is the conclusion, where Thorn asks Staples about why he writes what he writes and raps about. "Are you proud of what you've done?"

To view Vince Staples' music video for "Nate," via YouTube, click here. To listen to "Versace Rap," also via YouTube, click here.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Billy Collins, The Art of Poetry No. 83

The Paris Review interviewed Billy Collins for their Fall 2001 issue shortly after he had been awarded U.S. Poet Laurete. 

The big news, of course, is that Billy Collins has been appointed the new poet laureate by the Library of Congress, now the newest of a distinguished list that among others includes Robert Penn Warren, Joseph Brodsky, Robert Pinsky, and most recently, Stanley Kunitz.

Collins’s credentials, despite starting a career as a poet at the late age of forty, are impressive indeed. His various wonderfully named collections of poetry includeVideo PoemsPokerfaceQuestions About AngelsThe Art of DrowningThe Apple That Astonished ParisTaking Off Emily Dickinson’s Clothes and Picnic, Lightning.Sailing Alone Around the Room: New and Selected Poems will be published this fall. His last three collections of poems have broken sales records for poetry. A well-known voice on National Public Radio, his public readings, perhaps better described as performances, are invariably put on before packed audiences.

His work is identified largely by its humor, which he speaks of as being “a door into the serious”—a comment echoed by John Updike’s sentiment: “Billy Collins writes lovely poems . . . limpid, gently startling, more serious than they seem, they describe all the worlds that are and were and some others besides.”

Collins lives in Somers, New York, a few miles from Katonah, which is about an hour’s ride on the commuter train from Grand Central Station. The Katonah station is unique in that it is set in the middle of town, so that one steps out of the train just a yard or so from the main street and the arts and crafts shops that line the far side. Collins’s home, a few miles away, is a renovated farmhouse that dates back to the 1860s. His wife, Diane, was away at work (she is an architect), but on hand was the family dog, Jeannine, a mixed breed collie named after a song popularized by Cannonball Adderly. Collins often breaks away from work to play Adderly-mode jazz on a piano in the living room.

Jeannine made it clear she wanted to be taken outside for exercise—which entailed running down a steep slope of lawn to retrieve a frazzled-looking frisbee, so indented with teeth marks as to resemble (as Collins put it) “the end of a worried writer’s pencil.” Jeannine finally seemed wearied enough to allow Collins to invite his guest back in the house for the interview.

In manner, Billy Collins is very much like what one would expect from reading his poems—quick to add a touch of humor to whatever he has to say, however serious the topic, but leaving no doubt that he is a very dedicated practitioner of his art. He teaches at Lehman College of the City University of New York; one envies his students for their chance to study comparative literature from such a source. And yet there is nothing of the formal Ivory Tower mien about Collins: he is, for example, a passionate golfer, and what time he can take off from the lecture circuit (he is in considerable demand, giving over forty readings a year) and his teaching duties at Lehman, he spends touring the historic golf courses of the country with his golfing friend and literary agent, Chris Calhoun. Perhaps his informal side is best reflected by his given name: he was christened William after his father, thus Willy for a while, and then Billy, which he has kept as his nom de plume as much in reaction to the pretentiousness of those writers who use their initials, or one initial and a given name, as in W. James Collins, or whatever.

The interview took place in the small comfortable study of his home—shelves of books, a pair of paintings, one an abstract by Dan Christensen, the other a 1930s subway scene by George Tooker.

To read the full interview, click here. To listen to Billy Collins read two poems, via Wall Street Journal's Speakeasy, click here.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Danez Smith - Dear White America

Danez Smith, Rustbelt individual and team champion, performing his poem at 2014 Rustbelt Regional Poetry Slam.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Happy Birthday 2pac

Happy birthday to Tupac Shakur who would have been 43 years old today. Here he is on Yo! MTV Raps in 1993.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

The Beats, The Bomb and The 1950's

Poet and author Robert Briggs speaks about witnessing the atomic bomb explode and it's subsequent effect on America and the world at large. Although his bit about the Beats is brief, this is still a valuable video to see.

I'll Remember You, Love, In My Prayers By Unknown Author

Here's another poem from that old book I had mentioned earlier. This one struck me because of the love and devotion in it. The voice is very strong here. Apparently there is also a song by Alison Krauss & Union Station that used much of this poem as the basis for their song of the same title. The song is pretty cool but I dig the poem a lot more. If anybody knows who actually wrote this poem, please let me know.

I'll Remember You, Love, In My Prayers

When the curtains of night are pinned back by the stars,
And the beautiful moon leaps the skies,
And the dewdrops of heaven are kissing the rose,
It is then that my memory flies
As if on the wings of some beautiful dove
In haste with the message it bears
To bring you a kiss of affection and say:
I'll remember you, love, in my prayers.


Go where you will, on land or on sea,
I'll share all your sorrows and cares;
And at night, when I kneel by my bedside to pray
I'll remember you, love, in my prayers.

I have loved you too fondly to ever forget
The love you have spoken to me;
ANd the kiss of affection still warm on my lips
When you told me how true you would be.
I know not if fortune be fickle or friend,
Or if time on your memory wears;
I know that I love you wherever you roam,
And remember you, love, in my prayers.

When angels in heaven are guarding the good,
As God has ordained them to do,
In answer to prayers I have offered to Him,
I know there is one watching you.
And may its bright spirit be with you through life
To guide you up heaven's bright stairs,
And meet with the one who has loved you so true
And remembered you, love, in her prayers.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Miraculous Divinity

Miraculous Divinity
"Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive." —Dalai Lama
Today our meditation focuses on seeing with eyes of love. While each of us appears to be a separate individual, we are all inextricably connected at the soul level. We are all expressions of the infinite field of pure potentiality, also known as spirit, God, the universe, source, or whatever name most resonates with you. When we relate to each other from the level of ego or personality, it is easy to get caught up in the struggle for control and approval and the need to be right. But when we relate to each other from the soul level, we experience the expansion of love, joy, compassion, and harmony.
Our centering thought for today is:
I see through the eyes of my soul.
Today send everyone you encounter a silent blessing. You may want to silently repeat the greeting of namasté: the spirit in me honors the spirit in you. Consider dedicating today to living the true spirit of namasté—giving yourself permission to internally bow to each and every person that crosses your path as you witness, honor and acknowledge the divine spirit that they are.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Hafiz - My Teacher Once Told Me A Story

My Teacher Once Told Me A Story

My teacher once told me a story of a great saint,
a Perfect One, who wanted to travel around
his part of the world before he died and talk about
some spiritual matters to those who would come
to listen.

And when his men and he reached a certain
country he said to some of his companions,

"Sensuality is in fine shape here, maybe even
too fine shape, but my basic concern is that we
fit in well and that we get a few to listen to my
words which will plant seeds here for generations.
So I want you to employ twelve of the most beautiful
erotic dancers who can travel with us for the next
month as we tour this land."

So the dancers were employed, and from town to
town and city to city the great Master traveled.
The dancers would begin the show as it were, and
once a nice crowd had gathered the saint would
speak for just a few minutes, then let the performers
resume their art.

My own Master then stopped the story, looked at
me in a very sweet and somewhat amused way,
then said,

"Hafiz, don't forget the dancers in your poems."

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Allen Ginsberg Reading Howl

Happy Birthday to Allen Ginsberg! Plenty of cool things available at The Allen Ginsberg Project. Here is a quite popular recording of the poet reading arguably his most famous work, Howl. Allen would have been 88 today.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Sonia Sanchez : In Conversation With Envision Peace Museum

Sonia Sanchez talks about one of her (and mine) favorite subjects: peace! She also addresses some of her teaching techniques, making peace profitable and gun violence in Philadelphia.

Dean Lilleyman - Moon Burns Like Sun

A small story, a short film shot after waking from a 2am dream, the moon like a sun through my window.

For more, visit Dean Lilleyman's website, here.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Dave Chappelle and Maya Angelou In Conversation

"And you develop courage. The most important of all the virtues. Because without courage, you can't practice any other virtue consistently." - Maya Angelou

"If you're not angry, you're either a stone...or you're too sick to be angry." - Maya Angelou

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Maya Angelou. April 4th 1928 - May 28th 2014

Still I Rise

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may tread me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I'll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you? 
Why are you beset with gloom? 
'Cause I walk like I've got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I'll rise.

Did you want to see me broken? 
Bowed head and lowered eyes? 
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.

Does my haughtiness offend you? 
Don't you take it awful hard
'Cause I laugh like I've got gold mines
Diggin' in my own back yard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I'll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you? 
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I've got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs? 

Out of the huts of history's shame
I rise
Up from a past that's rooted in pain
I rise
I'm a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that's wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise. 

Thursday, May 22, 2014

A Huey P. Newton Story

Originally born in a small town in Louisiana and later moving with his family to Oakland, California as an infant, Huey P. Newton became the co-founder and leader of the Black Panther Party for over 2 decades.

Director Spike Lee and Roger Guenveur Smith collaborate for the 7th time to bring Newton's thoughts, philosophies, history and flavour to life in A Huey P. Newton Story.

Produced by Luna Ray Films, A Huey P. Newton Story is the film adaptation of Smith's Obie Award-winning, off-Broadway solo performance of the same name. It was filmed before a live audience and Spike Lee directs the film with his signature mix of film and archival footage to capture the thoughts of this revolutionary political leader.

This website explores many of the subjects only briefly touched on in the film, bringing them into greater focus and creates opportunities for further investigation into the truth behind the man and the movement he founded.

He was a modern day American revolutionary.

Source: PBS.ORG

Huey P. Newton's To Die For The People via Amazon, here.

Huey P. Newton's Revolutionary Suicide via Amazon, here.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Miraculous Awareness

"The quieter you become, the more you can hear." —Ram Dass
Today, as we continue on the journey toward creating miraculous relationships, we explore one of the richest gifts we have to offer others: our undivided attention. In the enlightening stillness of meditation, we will focus on the many gifts available through listening with our ears, heart, and soul.
Consider for a moment the last time you truly felt heard. What a gift it is when another person is truly present, hearing our words as well as receiving all the unspoken messages we send through our energy, body, and nonverbal communication. Listening is a form of mindful attention that brings us fully into the present moment, where miracles can unfold in our relationships and in every area of our lives.
Our centering thought for today is:
I am present.
Set the intention to have at least one conversation today in which you truly listen with your heart and soul. Give yourself permission to pause your busy inner dialogue. Listen to the words being spoken and make the choice to listen beyond the words to receive the full spirit and potential of the message. With fresh and attentive eyes and ears, witness the miracle of the person before you, seeing them through the eyes of your heart. With this practice you invite true connection, infinite possibility, and abundant love into your life and relationships.

We Were Never Born (Jack Kerouac)

"I have lots of things to teach you now, in case we ever meet, concerning the message that was transmitted to me under a pine tree on a cold winter day. It said that Nothing Ever Happened, so don't worry. It's all like a dream. Everything is ecstasy, inside. We just don't know it because of our thinking-minds. But in our true blissful essence of mind is known that everything is alright forever and forever and forever. Close your eyes, let your hands and nerve-ends drop, stop breathing for 3 seconds, listen to the silence inside the illusion of the world, and you will remember the lesson you forgot, It is all one vast awakened thing. I call it the golden eternity.We were never really born, we will never really die. It has nothing to do with the imaginary idea of a personal self, other selves, many selves everywhere: Self is only an idea, a mortal idea. I know this from staring at mountains months on end. They never show any expression, they are like empty space, but the emptiness of space will never crumble away because it was never born."

WE WERE NEVER BORN from Dosnoventa on Vimeo.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Mic Crenshaw at TEDx Portland

Chicago-born poet and emcee Michael (Mic) Crenshaw fell in love with music at a young age while living in Minneapolis. His teenage years were challenging as he actively confronted white supremacist gangs that were a growing part of the hard-core music scene. He eventually chose to escape the violence and moved to Portland, where he quickly became one of the most respected artists in the Northwest, and his community efforts have had both local and international impact.
In addition to his highly-acclaimed work in spoken work and hip hop, Mic founded GlobalFam, a non-profit project to create and maintain a computer center for disadvantaged youth in Burundi, Central Africa. Over 400 people have received free training, and it is now expanding, generating revenue and creating jobs. Mic also partnered with Education Without Borders (EWOB), which supports education, music and art initiatives in Portland and beyond and serves as an umbrella for the local Books For Prisoners chapter and GlobalFam itself. GlobalFam has blossomed into a music label, production, promotion, artist management, and education company providing mainstream entertainment that supports Social Justice Activism.

Atmosphere's New Album Southsiders

Some Atmosphere happenings. The Minneapolis duo released their seventh album last week. There's been some buzz across the internet, including my Twitter and Facebook timelines, and rightfully so. Here's what Slug has to say:

While Southsiders is a celebration of the group’s fortitude, it is also a deeply introspective, and sometimes conflicted, work. “It’s a natural progression from the last record, The Family Sign, which was about growing my family,” says Slug, now a father to three, who finds himself contemplating mortality. “I’m starting to think, ‘What is post–family man? What am I supposed to rap about now?’ I’m sticking to my roots, rapping about what I’m doing, what I think about. 

For a radio interview with Sway, where the Atmosphere MC also performs two songs, click here. For an interview with Jay-Z's Life+Times, click here. For an interview with NPR's Arun Rath, click here.

For album reviews of Southsiders, click hereherehere and here.

And finally, to order the album via Fifth Element, click here.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The [R]evolution of Immortal Tehnique

Follow Harlem rapper Immortal Technique as he treks around the globe, performing and speaking with some of his friends like Woody Harrelson, Chuck D, Poison Pen, Dr. Cornel West and more. Some of the places visited include Peru and Afghanastan where he helped build an orphanage. Full documentary.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Studs Terkel in Conversation With American Poets, Episode 3

In this brief but rich audio file, from a radio show in Chicago, Studs Terkel talks with American poets Howard Nemerov and Gwendolyn Brooks. The two poets also share some of their own poetry.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Neeli Cherkovski - EVICTION!

Angela Y. Davis on what's radical in the 21st century

Forty-five years after her first UCLA teaching gig attracted the wrath of Gov. Ronald Reagan, Angela Y. Davis is back on campus this semester, as regents' lecturer in the gender studies department. Her Thursday address in Royce Hall, about feminism and prison abolition, sums up some but not all of her work — a long academic career paralleled by radical activism. President Nixon called her a "dangerous terrorist" when she was charged with murder and conspiracy after a deadly 1970 courthouse shootout. She was acquitted, and since then, the woman born in the Jim Crow minefield of Birmingham, Ala., has written, taught and lectured around the world. Her iconic Afro has morphed from its 1970s silhouette; her intensity has not.

To read the full interview, via LA Times, click here.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Guilty or Not Guilty By Unknown Author

So I've got this poetry book that a coworker let me borrow at work. It is really worn. The cover is taped together and the spine of the book is worn and falling apart. There's a few loose pages because of this. The actual covering on the spine is completely detached and now rests in behind the cover before the first page. This is a loved book. It's a gem. There's a lot of great poems from a lot of great poets most of whom I've never heard of or, as in this case, are simply credited to "Unknown." Anyways, here's a poem.

Guilty or Not Guilty 

She stood at the bar of justice
A creature man and wild
In form too small for a woman
In feature too old for a child.
For a look so warm and pathetic
Was stamped on her pale young face,
It seemed long years of suffering
Must have left that silent trace.

"Your name," said the judge, as he eyed her,
With kindly look, yet keen.
"It's--" "Mary Maguire, if you please, sir."
"And your age?" "I am turned fifteen."
"Well, Mary,"--and then from a paper
He slowly and gravely read--
"You are charged here--I am sorry to say it--
With stealing three loaves of bread."

"You look not like an old offender,
And I hope that you can show
The charge to be false. Now, tell me
Are you guilty of this, or no?"
A passionate burst of weeping
Was at first her sole reply;
But she dried her tears in a moment,
And looked in the judge's eye.

"I will tell you just how it was, sir:
My father and Mother are dead,
And my little brothers and sisters
Were hungry, and asked me for bread.
At first I earned it for them,
By working hard all day,
But somehow the times were hard, sir,
And the work all fell away."

"I could get no more employment,
The weather was bitter cold;
The young ones cried and shivered
(Little Johnnie's but four years old);
So what was I to do, sir?
I am guilty, but do not condemn;
I took--O! was it stealing?--
The bread to give to them."

Every man in the courtroom--
Graybeard and thoughtless youth--
Knew, as he looked upon her,
that the prisoner spoke the truth.
Out from their pockets came kerchiefs,
Out from their eyes sprung tears,
And out form old, faded wallets
Treasures hoarded for years.

The judge's face was  a study,
The strangest you ever saw,
As he cleared his throat and murmured
Something about the law.
For one so learned in such matters,
So wise in dealing with men,
He seemed, on a simple question,
Sorely puzzled just then.

No one blamed him, or wondered
when at last these words they heard.
"The sentence of this young prisoner
Is for the present deferred."
And no one blamed him or wondered
when he went to her and smiled,
And tenderly led from the court room.
Himself, the "guilty" child!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Lenelle Moïse at VERSeFest 2014

where our protest sound
by Lenelle Moïse

jazz is underwater
vodou atlantis mute
aborted ultrasound
fetal fish in flood
haiti's first cousin
forcibly kissed
by a hurricane called
katrina. hot winds
come one fat
old levee leak
explodes. fixing funds gone
to homeland
security. soldiers
stationed in iraq. said,
jazz is underwater
days like laissez-faire
manna does not fall
saviors do not save
hunger prays to rage for
resilience, improvisational genius
implodes, anarchy duets
with despair.
bassist fingers loot—nimble
like a deft pianist. said, vodou
atlantis mute. the fragile
eardrums of instant orphans get
inundated with someone else's mama's
soprano saxophone screams.
(meanwhile televised tenor
voices report monotonous
drone to drown out)
the deafening beat
of funeral marchers
can't swim.
bloated trumpet
carcasses, a singer swallows human
sewage. her last note, a curse
on america. aborted
ultrasound. cacophonous
warnings scatter brains.
pedestrians hear calls to
evacuate, escape, and think, how
fast can on-foot run? the poor, the weary
just drown. abandoned elders
just drown. people
in wheelchairs just drown. the sick
in bed cannot leave. their doctors stay
behind too. new emergencies engulf
the e.r. swamped hospitals ain't
hostels, ain't shelters.
resources slim
like hope. nurses stay
behind too. their loyal partners
will not leave. ill-fated
rejects just drown. said, fetal fish
in flood. outside, a breaking
willow weeps like a father
on his rooftop, murmuring
his wife's last words: clutch tight
to our babies and let me
die, she had pleaded, you can't
hold on to us all, let me die.
she, too, like jazz, is
underwater. her love,
her certainty, will
haunt him. their children's
survival, a scar. sanity also
loses its grip, guilt-weight
like cold, wet clothes.
eighty percent of new orleans
submerged. debris lingers, disease
looms. said, days like laissez-faire.
manna does not fall. shock battles
suicide thoughts.
some thirsty throats cope,
manage dirges in cajun, in zydeco.
out-of-state kin can't
get through.
refugees (refugees?) remember
ruined homes.
a preacher remembers the book
of revelations. still saviors
wait to save.
and the living wade with the countless
dead while
a wealthy president flies
up where brown people look
up where
brown people look like
spoiled jambalaya, stewing
from a distance
in their down-there
distress, said,
he's free—
high up—far up—
vacation fresh—eagle up, up
and away
from the place
where our protest
sound started, still
sings. american music
gurgling cyclone litanies
man cannot prevent, the man
cannot hear.

This is a poem from Lenelle Moïse's new book Haiti Glass. To order a copy or to read more about this incredible work, click here and here.