some shit that I wrote

the purgatory of 3 AM
rolled over these few
wearied bodies those few
who drank coffee and emptiness
with me near the crossroads
of columbia the sound system
sifting through the sadder chord
changes and random reflections
by various artists

we all came in unfilled we all
came with nothing…I even had
to borrow this pen this
I wish I could say I left we left
full but shit if I can speak for everyone

but for now, my melancholy satiated, and
others rambling on and others still
broken and more fitting the shards in place
in this purgatory of 3 AM.

anansi

she glows starshine
from each eye and
smiles happiness
she speaks
jazz and sullen blues
and walks out
storylines with
honest thighs and free
feet her every step a
plot twist – and every kiss
a whisper of this summer evening.

on the occasion of my sister’s wedding.

Love is passion, true, and love is dynamic, dramatic, feral and free, but love also is gentle stillness, serenity and calm in the face of misfortune.

Love is sharing. Love is consideration, giving till there is nothing left to give, but also is love selfish, greedy, domineering, demanding of full attention, faith, and faithfulness. Love is desire and need, patience and sacrifice.

Few of us have not known the hard dull edge of a day when love has done us wrong, and fewer still are unaware of the saccharine bliss of when we’ve become full up in our hearts for someone for the first time – when we’ve become overwhelmed by the possibilities presented in a new relationship and the possibilities newly present in ourselves.

We must have both sides of the coin, both halves of the whole. In love, we require both storm and stillness. And in the storm we find our surrender to the power of an emotion, of a concept greater than ourselves. In the stillness we find our surrender to a person dearer to us than ourselves. In both, we place the outcome in hands other than our own, we relinquish total control. We trust in the power of our feeling and our faith, because the essence of it all, the roots of love, are found, through both fury and tranquility, in trust.

In youth, in newness, with exploration, love is tempest and torrent.
In time, with age and understanding, love is serenity and sacrifice.

These are the two disparate and unified facets of love, divided only by experience. And it is at the threshold between them that these two find themselves poised.

I’d like to end with this Sicilian proverb:

Matrimoni e viscuvati, di lu celu su mannati,

meaning,

Weddings and spiritual matters are heaven sent.

This is surely such a union. Sent from heaven and a blessing to us all. Thank you.

(I wrote this for my little sister’s wedding yesterday)

water no get enemy

It’s hard to find the words with which to begin. Words, I’m afraid, scarcely hold the information required to tell his story. Here we go, though, whatever my lack of eloquence.

I have known few men or women in my life I can say I truly respected. There have been many I liked well enough, and of course, many more whom I thoroughly detested – but precious few, loved or otherwise, about which it can be said I respected them.

This was such a man.

I sat, uncomfortable, shifting fore and aft in the pew, looking around at the beautiful sea of black faces surrounding me. Some I recognized from my undergraduate days on the second floor of Childer’s, some I only knew from books or the occasional PBS documentary, and more still were unknown to me completely. Still, all these were somehow familiar to me – as a long lost cousin’s high cheek bones and oblong head and bulbous nose fit ever so well in the long progression from one’s great grandfather, grandfather, and uncles; we all belonged that day, all one family, in mourning and celebration of a great man now gone.

He was a man for whom “category” and “boundary” were terms as useless as monopoly money – and confronting him with either would have been equally futile. He was, as eloquently as I can put it, unfuckingstoppable. A giant juggernaut of the art world. It was his way, or would stomp you into the highway. Ribald, regal, real; passionate and playful; confrontational, curious, and courageous; kind, giving, honest, and ALIVE. It was in this fashion that he led a movement of artists from the Chicago hinterlands to the motherland. As one artist from Nigeria put it, “Because of him, we came to America, to find Africa.” Co-creator of the “Wall of Respect,” co-founder of AfriCOBRA, leading light of the Black Arts Movement, Dean of the Howard University College of Fine Arts, and all around bad ass muthafucka.

He tried to teach us how to fight with unrepentant fury.
And how to paint even harder.

We said our goodbyes…cheered for him and cried for ourselves. We laughed at Jameelah’s jokes. Donald Byrd played. Haki Madhubuti read. And all the while, I tried to make sense of him, to fit his absence into my new reality. only just now did I finally give up on all that bullshit. He hasn’t left us at all. He is us. If only as we one day wish to be.

Here is to our mighty emperor of blackness. I hope you are giving them hell up in heaven. These sorry ass words could not do you justice.

Dr. Jeff R. Donaldson
December 15, 1932 – February 29, 2004

yellin’ crickets and crows

there is rawness and an infantile quality to love among we children of africa in america. as if it’s a love not yet matured. as if we are unable to express our affection for one another with the purity required to reach, within our feelings for one another, the absolution true love brings. as if our puppy love is a lifelong endeavor. we use and are used. we fuck and are fucked. but so rarely do we give, freely and without recompense. rarely do we transcend the corporeal. always on the lookout for the better deal, we are consumed by our realities, and so cannot indulge fully our spirituality. true love is completely spiritual, total testament to the altar of what we can be when removed from material existence. has whitey so ripped from us our potential?

we have lost our spirituality. we have had stolen from us our inner children and our outer adults. we love and worship selfishly and without faith. tell me I am wrong. I pray that I am wrong. and yet…

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