the saxophonists are in hot pursuit
their trench-coats heavily creased
the moth eaten fedora, the weathered
kofi (on occassion), with stacey adams
in the evening and leather
sandals when it’s sunny
i’m afraid to be caught alone
catching a cab out of fear of some
6’1” Ben Webster in a Cosby sweater
stepping out a shadow accosting me
with acoustics: “say, brother, aint you
a poet? i can pull a habit out my sleeve,
you need some backup? i have
microphones… i keep a drummer
and a djembe in the trunk. a sister-friend
can burn some sage / cleanse
any stage of negative juju; we call her
‘SistaClearasil-for-the-Soul’, but anyway
i can Kenny G or Rahsaan Rowland
Kirk you, your call; i play it all.”
”no, sir” - i say - “i’m sorry,
but i’m a writer of long words not a reciter
of long winds; however, i have been known
to pretend…” i understand their panic,
the need for poets and horn players to
man up, but only when a Ford commercial
goes urban will you ever hear jazz truly jingle
over some deep brother’s baritone. it will
never be a top-40 single with some
smoothed out Billy Dee or other
Harlem hipster paraphrasing
Langston Hughes or Flava Flav,
selling America Buicks over basslines.
shit, Detroit aint even seen no recession,
not like the one for ballpoint-n-brass.
(poets gave up coffee shops
for myspace and terminal degrees)
the bottom fell out… too much grit and
not enough tenure on the chitlin circuit…
left the man with a tenor sax to cold lamp.
a mighty damp business, i’m afraid.
now, i’m sure his set is tight, but
i’m a writer. i dont mic. cant hum.
no spoons / drums / banjos / or jugs…
background singers would be dopeshitfareal
but a spotlight has no appeal for me
at this point…
you see, the counter-culture gave up
creativity and with all these browsers
poppin’ open, no one knows true beauty
eye-to-eye. yeah, the shoes of the fisherman’s
wife is some jive ass slippers, but when’s
the last time she e’en seent him in trousers?
can you play
a working class
poet for when 40
my friend at UK, Dr. Adam Banks, is hosting an highly academic forum in Chicago next spring that will focus on afrofuturism and its roll in digital communication (and vice-a-versa, i’d imagine) … he asked me to come up with a few concepts to run as promotional material for the event; this is my favorite so far, but sadly, it’s one he’s rejected so far in favor of a work still in progress. - he did say he might want to use this one for one of his own personal projects / if i dont beat him to it!
those well-versed in the history of American barbarism will recognize the artistic license taken with the image above, replacing the vicious scarification with vévé of Eshu Elegbara as constellation. it also owes a nod to the works of Bearden and Matisse. in future revisions, i think i’ll stylize his entire silhouette as a constellation and have it entirely white on black.
no matter the stance or the subject, we all are claiming victim and hero status in the same statement; every individual stands out in the rain and gets wet, in many various degrees. some drenched, some barely damp, but each experience its own unique truth - - sometimes under-exaggerated, often times over-, and yet still almost never heard by those we want to hear us the most….
1. we no longer understand the science of weaving our own individual narratives into the greater collective.
2. however, we all want the greater collective to center around our own unique narrative. this is the art of it which can only grow in cause after we understand the first part.
for black america, this is the ugly reality that came with intergrating into a society that knew not how to fully accept us, let alone hear our pleas for patience, impatient cries, our need for understanding/respect/power: we struggled as one for equality, but were individually folded into the mainstream - our elders with each generation blending into the mix, each at a varying pace. we have great-grandparents with high school educations, grandparents with college degrees, parents who dropped out of high school and generations that are currently in limbo concerning higher education altogether; we now have families with nothing else seemingly in common from one generation to the next except the fact that we all individually struggle. but we all want to be heard. each story is important. however, we’ve lost the ability of framing our individual tales into “a whole us” that society must sit with in faith and honest negotiation in order to properly address our concerns. america is picking us apart, as it does with every immigrant that comes to its shores (by freedom of choice or as prisoners of war) - many non-black and black-non-prisoners-of-war immigrants accept the blending in and look forward to it, dreaming of escaping whatever conditions haunted them elsewhere. others come through the gates using their previously established cultures as a fulcrum to pry or push them forward, maintaining their sense of identity as tightly and as proudly as possible while forming societies-within-society to help maintain who they are, passing these identities down to whoever will inherit them through blood, rite, and ritual.
but when you descend from captives mostly imprisoned for 4 centuries with piece-mealed social structures based on broken memories and partial citizenship, then you either melt in, you resist, or you perish and not always at your own choice. for many african americans, we have all three living under one roof. many times a single african american may resemble all three of those conditions.
and organizing our concerns in formats and forums not designed for such a magnitude is proving to be a greater challenge itself than the forces we believe opposing us. we all have something to give to and to learn from one another… but “the information super highway” will derail your “underground railroad” at every bandwidth: the online-paterollers know where you will board and where you will get off before you do. it seems like the internet is less a playground for our strong personalized definitions of self and more an open plea for avatar-acceptance or an open rejection of anything demanding its own sense of worth beyond our willingness to comply. a common and prefered battlefield for social activism.
this isnt to say we wont find success with black and non-black allies online, because most level headed people will always consider honest debate and positive information, but the best social progress has historically occured where people hone their issues in places where mass progress remains the primary focus over individual prosperity - and the internet has yet to physically represent that. we’ve settled for passwords when secret handshakes are still the most important. if someone says otherwise then chances are it’s because they want digital access to your perspectives, claiming ownership of it (even if they credit you) at the offline tables at which they sit, socially or academically.
for many, this tiny post will seem superfluous/outdated/without merit. and i’m cool with that. devil’s advocates will always be needed and i enjoy my position as old fart peering into this “contemporary void” - brothadirt: the crazy uncle stumbling into the party with tattered jumpsuit and rusty golden ankh clashing with your retro jumpsuit and shiny silver ankh… someone just like me lives next door to where you grew up - stop reading my bullshit and go ask them directly what race and gender politics means to them (if such issues truly matter). maybe you’ll be surprised. or maybe you’ll really be surprised.
or maybe you just hate surprises.
3. individual wants tend to be more fluid than our communal needs and a working, tangible society is the goal of every civilization before it crumbles and gives way to the next…
4. there may be exceptions.
5. but there wont be many.
6. dot dot dit dit dot dot dash.
7. yeah… it’s a painful thought thinking of not just putting someone else’s needs first, but of putting your own wants last. (pfft! why would anyone want to do that?!?! that’s crazy talk!) that’s just not the kind of society modern people work toward anymore.
8. you dont need CAPTCHA.
9. you need A PINKY PROMISE.
old tumblr art 2012.
old internet shit.
black is the new love, ufsd 2013
digital poster, upfromsumdirt 2013