Sunday, May 15, 2011

Riot Act, April 29, 1992

by Ai
I'm going out and get something.
I don't know what.
I don't care.
Whatever's out there, I'm going to get it.
Look in those shop windows at boxes
and boxes of Reeboks and Nikes
to make me fly through the air
like Michael Jordan
like Magic.
While I'm up there, I see Spike Lee.
Looks like he's flying too
straight through the glass
that separates me
from the virtual reality
I watch everyday on TV.
I know the difference between
what it is and what it isn't.
Just because I can't touch it
doesn't mean it isn't real.
All I have to do is smash the screen,
reach in and take what I want.
Break out of prison.
South Central homey's newly risen
from the night of living dead,
but this time he lives,
he gets to give the zombies
a taste of their own medicine.
Open wide and let me in,
or else I'll set your world on fire,
but you pretend that you don't hear.
You haven't heard the word is coming down
like the hammer of the gun
of this black son, locked out of this big house,
while massa looks out the window and sees only smoke.
Massa doesn't see anything else,
not because he can't,
but because he won't.
He'd rather hear me talking about mo' money,
mo' honeys and gold chains
and see me carrying my favorite things
from looted stores
than admit that underneath my Raider's cap,
the aftermath is staring back
unblinking through the camera's lens,
courtesy of CNN,
my arms loaded with boxes of shoes
that I will sell at the swap meet
to make a few cents on the declining dollar.
And if I destroy myself
and my neighborhood
"ain't nobody's business, if I do,"
but the police are knocking hard
at my door
and before I can open it,
they break it down
and drag me in the yard.
They take me in to be processed and charged,
to await trial,
while Americans forget
the day the wealth finally trickled down
to the rest of us.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

"Release, sweetheart. Let it go. Let the healing power flow".

The Salt Eaters, Toni Cade Bambara, 1992

Describe Yourself in Three Words or Less

by Rita Dove

I'm not the kind of person who praises
openly, or for profit; I'm not the kind
who will steal a scene unless
I've designed it. I'm not a kind at all,
in fact: I'm itchy and pug-willed,
gnarled and wrong-headed,
never amorous but possessing
a wild, thatched soul.

Each night I set my boats to sea
and leave them to their bawdy business.
Whether they drift off
maddened, moon-rinsed,
or dock in the morning
scuffed and chastened --
is simply how it is, and I gather them in.

You are mine , I say to the twice-dunked cruller
before I eat it. Then I sing
to the bright-beaked bird outside,
then to the manicured spider
between window and screen;
then I will stop, and forget the singing.
(See? I have already forgotten you.)


i've been working on a series of poems that engage ghosts--in whatever form they come in: personal, cultural, historical, literal, etc.--which means that i'm constantly looking for new ways to approach the topic, always inviting ghosts to make themselves at home in my creative den.

There are a few subjects that i've been having trouble entering, but have been poking their thirsty heads up for a drink of a poem anyway--painful relationships, family fissures, sexualized racialized violence, healing work, among others. i've tried to be both generous and honest, but it's draining and difficult work that begs a break every once in a while.

If you live in New York city, you've likely seen these ghost bikes around town:

quiet memorials to the cyclists killed in traffic, plastered in permanent white paint. This one was additionally adorned with flowers and a sign above:

Small airy grave for 169 people--travelers--the dead unrecognized. It was breathtaking in its simplicity. It was an incredibly empowering human moment to know there was a public space to mourn people i didn't know, but whose lives were bound up in mine, given our similar choices of transportation.

A welcome break from my personal ghosts. Something right about the day.

"Quit wrasslin, sweetheart, or you may go under. I'm throwing you the life line. Don't be too proud to live"

The Salt Eaters, Toni Cade Bambara, 1992

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

durian: everyday valentine



a SE Asian bombacaceous tree, Durio zibethinus, having very large oval fruits with a hard spiny rind containing seeds surrounded by edible evil-smelling aril

2. the
fruit of this tree, which has an offensive smell but a pleasant taste: supposedly an aphrodisiac