Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Friday, February 15, 2019


Yesterday’s entourage    says Maafa’s Hajj meets   UK garage stage door arabesque      lover says  galore   and   means   it  says the  rubber broke     and grins it         there was no rubber    there was no entourage the Hajj was   genocidal the lover had a pill there   was no yesterday the drowsy acres   hobble toward horizon a plum sun confession:      I  was  born  in the bible but I don’t  believe in the biblical procession of the land    candles  and robins    and opps in    the midnight cotton     have come to lobby   for thieves to get on (see l’huile pronounced wheel   means oil the slippery heals when he admits he cannot   dance in public and waits for the acceptance that will never      come not that I have tried to teach the war to dance        but these codes are locked in rhythm and the waves love to swallow  their scum I used to be afraid to swallow anything but blood     and so we can heal backwards the spiral is always thorns    first then rose then the delicate elbows to ribs it takes to remind us   we get around then they lost their clown then I could take     anything down

Monday, February 11, 2019

Josephine, Run

My  half asthmatic   Venusian laughs    and squints at    barrels Eros goes   there and winter thick crotch   exposed in the rhinestones    which were only hers from  hearses and hand jive chromatic intonation      as heather grey bananas and leopard spotting    with her obscene satisfaction in the peripheral clapping/forever            I see her when I search for Isiah and Trevor becomes Trayvon   haunting May bodega florida way black Man Ray way I see her when it’s safe     to ridicule your own desire for a sweeter life I see her dancing to the  key of your half beat fake negro outrage en Francais with a thousand babies she   never birthed singing together shifting from rich to reach in a row of       swollen bellies
                                                                                          and these are animated betrayals sacred their blood trickles    down the neck slow internal fountain of everybody’s naive       next world a mosaic of egg shell in the sheltered yellow if I could     eat myself and take her to the water I would eat you first try    to pass love off as hunger I taste like her I run like her I shake away      the hype like her flick it from the bone like lintflesh or the severe insignificance    of assembly during the mirror stage for three eagles and an exile

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Then I Found Harmony Brown

My father’s given name was James Brown. He had his surname legally changed to Holiday because he loved Billie Holiday, whose first name was Eleanora Fagan, and he hated the peculiar institution. Besides that another black James Brown the king of soul, already had a recording career when my dad was starting his in New Orleans. Avoid adverbs and superlatives if you love somebody, the very much is like dried up blood on cotton with no vine, a stain on the clear utterance. I won’t tell you how much he hated the institution, though no secret it safe in unconfession. Once at a nightclub called Deity in Brooklyn, the bouncer started hitting on me and asked me my name. I felt objectified and got defensive or reflexive and asked him to tell me his first in a quick and friendly banter. He refused and so I teased, c’mon, just as loosely entitled as you asking me, proving my point, smiling, I wasn’t offended just not interested in being identified first I guess, what’s your name, what’s your slave name, I continued to tease. Suddenly the whole mood shifted, I don’t have a slave name, I’m Nigerian, he responded. Do you think you’re better than someone who got trapped in a slavemaster’s name? I asked, clearly triggered by his affront just the same as he was by my playful question. He was quiet, thinking. I continued, you wouldn’t be casually living in this racist country if it weren’t for the black slaves who rescued themselves from captivity here, He remained quiet, pensive, I went back inside with some friends, the club was closing but we stayed at the bar, the bartender the bouncer, two friends and me, debating the validity of our given and received names, as if maybe we could give them back to some daggering source in the collective unconscious, as if identities can be shed that way. The bouncer, who never gave us his name, refused to believe these callings interdependent. By the end of the conversation he was seething and I was lighthearted and belligerent and my name was everywhere in the room looking for itself. But back to my father who had improvised a name that hinted at his coming deliverance, a name that allows me to luxuriate in debates about who’s who and what mistaken identity means for black bodies. James Brown and James Brown were born about a year apart, the king of soul in Atlanta, Georgia, the now Jimmy Holiday in Sallis, Mississippi. Both of them watched their fathers beat their mothers while growing up. They both loved their fathers. Both loved to sing. And they loved their mothers. And both of these descendants of slaves were trapped in the master’s monochrome name singing about freedom. And both men would eventually accumulate impressive stashes of guns. And both would turn violent toward their spouses to extents that might seem unfathomable when you listen to their soul crying songs about love and tenderness and pride. Both men composed beautiful black music and loved black people and in some ways were always exacting revenge on the Jim Crow South, just by sounding as rapturous as they did and masking their brutality as they did, thinly, and beneath all of the charisma of the downbeat, the beat down the swallowing sound of sorry and please in their leaping radio seasons. And both men are dead now, and loved as we love a tribe of broken angels. My father died while in jail for a domestic violence charge,  and the king of soul’s death is under investigation as a possible murder. He died on Christmas. The investigation was prompted years later by a call to CNN from a woman who once mistook him for Santa Claus when she spotted him in furs on a tarmac. Later they would become close friends and she claims to have been raped by him and threatened and then the article on CNN.com comes to a close. It’s unresolved whether she feels vengeance for what he did to her or for the fact that he was murdered or both. It’s unclear what she is trying to solve in the paradoxical capacity the suffering have for total forgiveness. My mother feels no perceivable vengeance, my parents’ love making was consensual, they were in love, it took her years to leave, and maybe a part of her regrets having put him jail, having had to call the police, but Jimmy Holiday is really great angel, an heroic ghost. And if listeners to his music knew his story I hope they would still be able to revel in it, as I do, and love him, as I do. But after reading about the depths of James Brown the king of soul’s violent streak, his music feels tragic and remote and less the upbeat exegesis it’s always been for me, it feels like lying to ourselves feels even when we’re really good at it, it feels like food that tastes perfect and might make you sick if you knew the ingredients. It has been stolen back for the time being, rebranded in the tradition of slave songs, of rage with no name but color, hue, danger, blue. There is no sugared way to say that trauma has a consciousness of its own, a second spirit. There’s a blurry mirror where James Brown my father and James Brown the King of Soul greet one another in sorrow and jubilant solidarity, say their names back and forth I am a king /I am king  you are a king/ you are king and walk out into the world feeling lighthearted enough to ask a bouncer twice their size for his slave name, smiling, feeling free enough to never say sorry or please, they back away from the mirror into me, lay their weapons down— the pain can stop here, the pain stopping here. Our legacy of pleasure is so near I lend it my other name.

Monday, February 4, 2019

Friday, February 1, 2019

Ma’s occasional dancing objects

One limb for each event           the sentimental globe   galvanizes nowhere man who   steps and hits and rubs and        wiggles like no other all at     once I knew won’t be too late  to hallelujah in a double German accept       the dictatorship has a knack for radical determinism       that way won’t ever be too late to slur   the whimper or say dour and mean redolent of how     when it enters flesh the branding iron has legs and walks     the stammering skin into submission Thembi and embers remember    the charts of flutes delivered to pacifists and herders who use    them to laugh a little fixed tilt eradicate Milton for someone on    pills and parole much to her peril she loves the carceral shape of   pharaohs in the shoulder is a lush for blushing lacerations that bubble    like winded flags or the slow-motion depression bellies there were so many depleted    ways to grow initial this scissors to the wrists erotic tickle of sharp on tender          and came to want the iron as a trace of walking through fire or being pulled by the   ear toward belief in the power and delirium of scars as they disappear