Two from Yusef Komunyakaa

16 November 2011, 11:09 am

Fog Galleon

Horse-headed clouds, flags
& pennants tied to black
Smokestacks in swamp mist.
From the quick green calm
Some nocturnal bird calls
Ship ahoy, ship ahoy!
I press against the taxicab
Window. I’m back here, interfaced
With a dead phosphorescence;
The whole town smells
Like the world’s oldest anger.
Scabrous residue hunkers down under
Sulfur & dioxide, waiting
For sunrise, like cargo
On a phantom ship outsde Gaul.
Cool glass against my cheek
Pulls me back from the black schooner
On a timeless sea – everything
Dwarfed beneath the papermill
Lights blinking behind the cloudy
Commerce of wheels, of chemicals
That turn workers into pulp
When they fall into vats
Of steamy serenity.

Salt

Lisa, Leona, Loretta?
She’s sipping a milkshake
in Woolworths, dressed in
Chiffon & fat pearls.
She looks up at me,
Grabs her purse
& pulls at the hem
Of her skirt. I want to say
I’m just here to buy
A box of Epsom salt
For my grandmother’s feet.
Lena, Lois? I feel her
Strain to not see me.
Lines are now etched
At the corners of her thin,
Pale mouth. Does she know
I know her grandfather
Rode a white horse
Through Poplas Quarters
Searching for black women,
How he killed Indians
& stole land with bribes
& fake deeds? I remember
She was seven & I was five
When she ran up to me like a cat
With a gypsy moth in its mouth
& we played doctor & house
Under the low branches of a raintree
Encircled with red rhododendrons.
We could pull back the leaves
& see grandmama ironing
At their wide window. Once
Her mother moved so close
To the yardman we thought they’d kiss.
What the children of housekeepers
& handymen knew was enough
To stop biological clocks,
& it’s hard now not to walk over
& mention how her grandmother
Killed her idot son
& salted him down
In a wooden barrel.

(from “New Poems”, Neon Vernacular, Wesleyan University Press/ University Press of New England, 1993)


William Everson, The Poet Is Dead

21 April 2011, 12:08 pm

The Poet is Dead

A memorial for Robinson Jeffers

In the evening the dusk
Stipples with light. The long shore
Gathers darkness in on itself
And goes cold. From the lap of silence
All the tide-crest’s pivotal immensity
Lifts into the land.

*

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Manning Marable

3 April 2011, 6:19 am

13 May 1950 – 1 April 2011

Intellectual giant. During the mid- to late-1990s, I learned a lot about post-Civil Rights politics in the USA from his pen. I was researching race and representation in the USA as I was developing an unhealthy obsession with early Spike Lee. This was post-1994, and so a lot of Marable’s analyses of the Civil Rights Movement, its victories and its massive shortfalls, were becoming apparent in the newly post-apartheid South Africa. Most specifically was his analysis of how organising along a politics of identity will only bring victories in representation. Without the actual transformation of institutions and society, it will only ever amount to representation without authority. Window dressing, in short.

Obituaries at New York Times and Racialicious.

Wikipedia page.


Still living in a B-movie

15 February 2010, 4:56 pm

…We just call it a blockbuster now.

“B-movie” (1981, off Reflections) has always been my favourite Gil Scott-Heron track, far more so than his most well-known “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” (1971, off Pieces of a Man), which now has lost it’s spark in any case through far too many ironic, counter-ironic and mangled quotations and misinterpretations. Obama’s election to presidency of the USA, for instance, led to many people saying that, finally, the revolution was being televised, trying to show they are hip to Gil Scott-Heron but taking a dig at him – his song  had finally lost its ostensible analytical edge. Few paused to think that the famous line really means that if it is televised, it is not a revolution. Which is really what the song, as analysis of the entertainment industry, is saying.

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