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Poetry

Uptown Correspondent – Iman R. Abdulfattah – Minton’s Playhouse – Up At Minton’s, Romare Bearden – Harlem, NYC

© Iman R. Abdulfattah

This old dive in Harlem has been shuttered for about as long as it had been open. Yet Minton’s Playhouse will always be known as the cradle of bebop, where the likes of Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonious Monk and Charlie Parker jammed into the night….Efforts to revive Minton’s Playhouse, on West 118th Street in Harlem, have sputtered throughout the years. – from Hoping a Good Meal Revives a Harlem Jazz Spot  By Kia Gregory for The New York Times, Published: January 6, 2013

Up At Minton’s (1980) taken by Iman R. Abdulfattah @ Flomenhaft Gallery

Romare Bearden (September 2, 1911 – March 12, 1988) was an African-American artist and writer. He worked in several media including cartoons, oils, collage. Born in Charlotte, North Carolina, Bearden moved to New York City at a very young age and went on to graduate from NYU in 1935.Wikipedia

There is lilt
Tempo
Cadence
A language of darkness
Darkness known
Darkness sharpened at Minton’s
Darkness lightened at the Cotton Club
Sent flying from Abyssinian Baptist
To the Apollo.

- Excerpt taken from Walter Dean Myer’s epic poem, Harlem (Caldecott Honor Book) 1997, beautifully illustrated by his son Christopher Myers.

2013 Inaugural Poem: One Today – Richard Blanco

The following poem was delivered by inauguration poet Richard Blanco during ceremonies for President Obama’s second inaugural Monday. The text of the poem was provided by the Presidential Inaugural Committee.

“One Today”

One sun rose on us today, kindled over our shores,
peeking over the Smokies, greeting the faces
of the Great Lakes, spreading a simple truth
across the Great Plains, then charging across the Rockies.
One light, waking up rooftops, under each one, a story
told by our silent gestures moving behind windows.

My face, your face, millions of faces in morning’s mirrors,
each one yawning to life, crescendoing into our day:
pencil-yellow school buses, the rhythm of traffic lights,
fruit stands: apples, limes, and oranges arrayed like rainbows
begging our praise. Silver trucks heavy with oil or paper — bricks or milk, teeming over highways alongside us,
on our way to clean tables, read ledgers, or save lives — to teach geometry, or ring up groceries as my mother did
for twenty years, so I could write this poem.

All of us as vital as the one light we move through,
the same light on blackboards with lessons for the day:
equations to solve, history to question, or atoms imagined,
the “I have a dream” we keep dreaming,
or the impossible vocabulary of sorrow that won’t explain
the empty desks of twenty children marked absent
today, and forever. Many prayers, but one light
breathing color into stained glass windows,
life into the faces of bronze statues, warmth
onto the steps of our museums and park benches
as mothers watch children slide into the day.

One ground. Our ground, rooting us to every stalk
of corn, every head of wheat sown by sweat
and hands, hands gleaning coal or planting windmills
in deserts and hilltops that keep us warm, hands
digging trenches, routing pipes and cables, hands
as worn as my father’s cutting sugarcane
so my brother and I could have books and shoes.

The dust of farms and deserts, cities and plains
mingled by one wind — our breath. Breathe. Hear it
through the day’s gorgeous din of honking cabs,
buses launching down avenues, the symphony
of footsteps, guitars, and screeching subways,
the unexpected song bird on your clothes line.

Hear: squeaky playground swings, trains whistling,
or whispers across cafe tables, Hear: the doors we open
for each other all day, saying: hello, shalom,
buon giorno, howdy, namaste, or buenos días
in the language my mother taught me — in every language
spoken into one wind carrying our lives
without prejudice, as these words break from my lips.

One sky: since the Appalachians and Sierras claimed
their majesty, and the Mississippi and Colorado worked
their way to the sea. Thank the work of our hands:
weaving steel into bridges, finishing one more report
for the boss on time, stitching another wound
or uniform, the first brush stroke on a portrait,
or the last floor on the Freedom Tower
jutting into a sky that yields to our resilience.

One sky, toward which we sometimes lift our eyes
tired from work: some days guessing at the weather
of our lives, some days giving thanks for a love
that loves you back, sometimes praising a mother
who knew how to give, or forgiving a father
who couldn’t give what you wanted.

We head home: through the gloss of rain or weight
of snow, or the plum blush of dusk, but always — home,
always under one sky, our sky. And always one moon
like a silent drum tapping on every rooftop
and every window, of one country — all of us –
facing the stars
hope — a new constellation
waiting for us to map it,
waiting for us to name it — together

Make a Man Out of Me – Richard Blanco – Huffington Post - Posted: 01/20/2013 9:29 am

Deer Caught in the Quantum Wobble

Deer Caught in the Quantum Wobble

Silly electrons, protons & photons
Frilly leptons, muons, quarks & bosons
Weave a tapestry in quantum wobble
Cloaked as wiggling strings in a Planck length cloth
Squabbling in & out some willy nilly
Lead me to believe I see deer grazing
In a cool nocturnal panorama

Silly foraging alpine white-tailed deer
Is it really me you see, smell & hear?
Or trillion charcoal black carbon copies
Floating on a roiling foamy space-time
Perhaps in unison in subspace rhyme
Or cacophonic contrapuntal screams
Falling in & out of the quantum seams

© Frank H. Jump

More on Quantum Wobble

Brooklyn poet & artist Ben Trimmier – Rebecca Pollock, Taffee Place Installation

12/15/07

 

happy Saturday

to stay home

if I choose to

guard my health

for the week

ahead

nearly 7am

the daylight seeping

into the slip

strip sky above

my warehouse canyon

called Taffee Place

rising at 5:30

with no school day

to go to I have slept

since 9:30 last night

yes: the wild Friday nights

Benjie falling out

during the PBS news fest

halfway through Bill Moyers Journal

waking in the midst of Charlie Rose

genuflecting to sartorial king Bill Clinton

who didn’t disappoint Charlie

but didn’t engage me

I returned to sleep

I retired to dream

to sleep

my heating pad corset

strapped on

for relief

I have worn

since Monday

grateful I can sleep

with my back sprain

spasms wishing

I had pain pills for

to make it

through these days

less gingerly guarding

girding my movements

with kindergarteners’ ways

their tiny chairs

I should not

be lifting

but I do

Ben Trimmier



Rebecca Pollack

Rebecca Pollock, Become
December 2005 to December 2006
Mural for Taffee Playground, Taffee Pl, Park & Myrtle Aves, Brooklyn

Image: courtesy of the artist

Description:
This mural covers a temporary wall adjacent to Taffee Playground. The subject of it relates to the omnipresence of litter in the neighborhood surrounding the playground. The artist selected the black plastic shopping bag as a symbol of this urban problem. “Rather than focus on the carelessness that this object represents when found in the street, I’ve chosen to sculpt it into another kind of debris: a leaf,” says Rebecca Pollock, the artist. “Become encourages others to make similar leaps of the imagination with all the elements of their environment. I hope that this image will promote a spirit of making something beautiful out of something ugly and making the most out of limitation.”

Ms. Pollock is enrolled in the MFA program at the School of Visual Arts.

 

 

Bad Dreams Are Good in the Great Plan


© NY Times/Art by Jonathon Rosen

Ask people to recall how many nightmares they had in the last year, said one dream researcher, and they might say one or two. Ask them to keep a dream diary, and they will report nightmares once or twice a month. By NATALIE ANGIER
Published: October 23, 2007

Bad Dreams Are Good
by Joni Mitchell
As published in the New Yorker
September 17, 2007

The cats are in the flower beds
A red hawk rides the sky
I guess I should be happy
Just to be alive
But
We have poisoned everything
And oblivious to it all
The cell-phone zombies babble
Through the shopping malls
While condors fall from Indian skies
Whales beach and die in sand
Bad Dreams are good
In the Great Plan

And you cannot be trusted
Do you even know you are lying?
It’s dangerous to kid yourself
You go deaf, dumb, and blind
You take with such entitlement
You give bad attitude
You have No grace
No empathy
No gratitude
You have no sense of consequence
Oh, my head is in my hands
Bad Dreams are good
In the Great Plan

Before that altering apple
We were one with everything
No sense of self and other
No self-consciousness
But now we have to grapple
With this man-made world backfiring
Keeping one eye on our brother’s deadly selfishness

Everyone’s a victim here
Nobody’s hands are clean
There’s so very little left of wild Eden Earth
So near the jaws of our machines
We live in these electric scabs
These lesions once were lakes
We don’t know how to shoulder blame
Or learn from past mistakes
So who will come to save the day?
Mighty Mouse. . . ? Superman. . . ?
Bad Dreams are good
In the Great Plan

In the dark
A shining ray
I heard a three-year-old boy say
Bad Dreams are good
In the Great Plan

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Hegemony

© Frank H. Jump
© Frank H. Jump

Theories of hegemony attempt to explain how dominant groups or individuals can maintain their power — the capacity of dominant classes to persuade subordinate ones to accept, adopt and internalize their values and norms. – Wikipedia

Not, To Hell With The Expense, But – The Expense of Hell

The randomness of presence
Helps me
Stay focused on now
To never say
At this point in time again
When now
Is in focus
When the focus
Is simply
Now

The kindest essence
Lets me say
Focus on now

Gosh darn
To Hell With The Expense!
(Hell is much too expensive)
Expel a mighty expenditure of Hell
In one joyous
Simple blast

Not the last time to focus on later
Nor the last time to focus on then
Nor the last time I focus on yesterday
The price of Hell is too costly
High time to ignite the bill

With hopes to lead a transparent life
Clouded with rich color
Corrosive nostalgia
There’s no color redder
There’s no rest for rust
Burnt orange
Verroesten
Nooit rustig

Never resting, rust

Constant cinematic critical
Rewrites of a prescient past
As intangible as memory
Tangled
Tyrannical
Impossible rewrites
Never written rightly

Caustic nostalgia airbrushed
In a toxic indelible
Aniline ink-splattered past tense
Choking in a glycol ether cloud
Clutching
Holding onto pain for fear of
Having nothing else
But a silly jawsprung grimace for a smile
Plaudits the surrender
To hell with that precious costive clutch
Release release tender trancelike
Relinquish and rattle those tiresome marrowbones
Succumbing to the absolution of a hegemonic tyrant

To Hell with the expense
Hell is much too expensive
Detonate one expansive expenditure of Hell
In one bleeping fleeting blast
Adrenaline rush poised for anxiety
Needn’t go waste when tossed at ecstacy
A blind exacting throw
Keeps the tinnitus tooting the trumpets
Till my at once is in synch with me pronto
Till my right now is curled up tightly in six dimensions
My potentiality blue shifts toward my center.

Not the last time to focus on later
Nor the last time to focus on then
Nor the last time I focus on yesterday
The price of Hell is too costly

High time to ignite the rewrite
Of a past which can never be rewritten
In spite of what science may bend
I’ve run out of space-time to hold fret
For a future that has yet to be poison penned

This path is beat
Quite nearly spent
I mourn the precious hours that went
And now the quest
Compulsive bent
To hammer out which path is best

With life so fleet
And heaven sent
Struggling just to make a dent
Without a rest
In my ascent
I wonder if it’s all in jest
(The joke’s on me)

To Hell with the expense
Hell is much too expensive
Hey you holy rollers!
High time to surrender
One expansive expenditure of Hell
In one simple bleeping
Fleeting
Big Bang

Nadruk op nu
Focus on now

A work in progress by Frank H. Jump for Reverend Carlton Pearson