poetry


When she moved, she went to her looms

Making cloth, being a woman & longin

To be of di earth

A rooted blues

Some ripe berries

Happenin inside

Spirits

in di spaces between cape town en tdot

Walking in a dirt road

Toes dusted & free

Faces movin windy

Brisk like

Dawn round

Gingham windows &

Opened eyes

Reelin to days

Ready-made

Nature’s image

I’m rejoicing

With a throat deep

Shout & slow

Like a river

Gatherin

Space

I yam sassafrass/a weaver’s daughta/from Charleston/i’m a woman makin cloth like all good women do/ di moon’s daughta made cloth/di gold array of di sun/di moon’s daughta sat all nite/spinnin…..

i’m a weaver with my sistas from any earth & fields/we always make cloth/love our children/honour our men/who protect us from our enemies/we prepare altars & anoint candles to offer our devotion to our guardians/we proffer hope/& food to eat/clothes to wear/wombs to fill…

Sassafrass had neva wanted to weave, she just couldn’t help it. there was something about di feel of raw fleece and finished threads en dainty patterned pieces that was as essential to her as dancing is to Carmen DeLavallade, or singing to Aretha Franklin….Sassafrass was certain of di necessity of her skill for di wellbeing of women everywhere, as well as for her own…..

Sassafrass wished on flowers/di flight patterns of birds/di angle of leaves fallin/….she wrote songs of love & vindication for all di afrikan & indian deities disgraced by di comin of di white man/& loss of land/& cities reflectin’ respect for livin’ things.

“i yam sassafrass/ my fingers behold you i call upon you with my song you teach me in my sleep/i yam not a besieger of yr fortress/ i yam a crusader/for you are all my past/ i offer you my body to make manifest your will in dis dungeon of machines & Carolina blues/i wanna sing yr joy/& make present your beauty/spirits/black & brown/find yr way thru my tainted blood/make me one of yr own/i yam your child in di new world/i am yr fruit/yet to be chosen for a single battle on yr behalf/come to & thru me/i yam dazzled by yr beneficence i shall create new altars/new praises & be ancient among you/”  

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[from A. na upendo to k. m.(e)n. t….]

you’ll never believe what happened is always a great way kuendelea! kuna hadithi najua. It’s about the earth and how it floats on the back of a kobe….

hadithi zetu kama [like] yemoja pan Afrikan healing arts en di evolushun of dubpoetry

 Ghanaian red roses

Hakema

I am thinking u

Wrapped in cloud’s nite

Piercing poetry with rhythmic trilogies

Of hip-hop en hypnosis

Lovin you lovin music lovin me

I am thinking u smiling from century

To tomorrow with a reflection

Of urself that u recognize

To be ancient n wise n present perfect

Hakema i am thinking u

Wrapped in me wrapped in belief n faith

Wrapped in tatu [three]

I want to divide myself

Times your [luv] upendo

Equals a future of memories n today

Hakema i am thinking u

Enveloped by everything u need

Laid at ur feet

Sent on the wings of a messenger

In love with your essence

Your presence for being

U are alive

Because life decided to bless herself

A dark emerald

Hakema

Know dis

I love u like the safe blackness of nite

Fierceness of day

Yellow ukweli of sunflowers

Mystic blues of di ocean

I love u like dreams

Caressing ur aching bones

With morning dew

From Ghanaian red roses

Hakema…………

Na shairi kama, small dangers en rivers that bleed

(for adam)

I take you in. A black breath

Ancient sacred. We are so overdue

I hold you. In a space we are both familiar

A mirror reflection. With future expectation

I breathe. Hold

So you feel the pulse of my blood. Bleeding an unquenchable wound

In the fester of leo. I touch you

Like a black womban

Knowing. Too much.

How soothing the ocean bed is

Our ancestors

Whisper coldly. From there. Other times

Blood n fiya. The taste of not forgetting

When will you let me hold you

We are so overdue. Strong n discovering

I send you an ancient embrace

Let her kiss your lips with the sweet bitter taste of struggle

I am too far to do it myself

Hadithi like these make me so happy, nashukuru wale wanaospread love, hope, truth n positivity in abundance…..

[between the lines: a queer afrikan reading of mukoma wa ngugi’s poetry]

Listen. Do you hear ghosts? Connect them to the sound of a canoe
on Indian Ocean. Listen to that tape of familiar beats that has weathered
foreign seasons. Sukus found in Salsa. Fela Kuti meets Masekela
in Appalachia. Do not inhale the coal fumes. Hold a memory.

The AntiHomosexuality Bill & Kato's Trial

[recent like the synergy of #todavidwithlove project or the rebirth of  pan-afrikan performing arts (papa) institute, en ancient like creashun o!]

Commit sins of transportation. Bite the past. Spit broken teeth
and colored blood that will chart global awareness. Learn
to say fuck without flinching. Seduce anarchy of the mind and try
to order schizophrenia in realms just outside the touch of your black

[nyeusi!]

hand. Image coming at you. Color it in Old English and an accented
haiku and see what you win. If lucky enough, if you are one of those
lucky cigar smoking sons of bitches, play the lottery and you might win
the lady’s hand. Do not try to break the chains that bind her feet.

realism

Hold her. Touch an image of her that is a mirage of you. Laugh
and say she is crazy to forget with you. Sip your beer gently. Light up,
let the sizzling seeds pass from your lips to hers. Watch the smoke
and its promise, it will turn you on onto possibilities of the night. Smile.

Ghosts. As a child voices sang in my sleep and then took to life. I dueled
them with screams that were hushed with threats of tranquility. I stole
Don Quixote’s sword and found a horse in my bouncing bed and would
have won the battle had it not been for the doctor who found Malaria

[read: HIV/AIDS, no fly zones, sodomy laws, polio, sleeping sickness, tuberculosis et cetera]

where there was none. Pills. Silent duels. And so when the police with guns
and big black coats came for my father, it must have been a dream I dreamt.
That night – pills with no water but morning tea still found a newspaper
damp with dew. Swords thrust, truths as righteousness of strength

bouncing horses and Marx -it all could have been a dream. Learn to stay up
late and talk of classes and footsteps. Not of classes but of labor at the nearest
Micky D’s. Dance to old rhythms and constitute common law while talking
of tradition. Find the nearest altar. Take pills without gun powder. Say

Mandela always with a smile. Miss her but call her a bitch. It will make

gemini by akwa

you feel like a man to stare her down feminism. Dust sprinkled so sparsely

and gently on your feet, stripped dress, gapped smile, black hair in rainbow

[ase]

your laugh and the way your fingers curled inwards – they always smelled
of plums. I miss our evenings by the pond, that time the sun refused to set
and we had to roll it over and down the hill You never did come to say good bye
how is it I remember your smile at the airport? Stay away from New York.

[even Brooklyn o??!]

[play…. spot the asylum seekers @ http://www.autostraddle.com/ ]

eke, the naija drag king

Too many mirrors of yourself. Read Harlem only in your sleep. Learn

to say Puerto Rican radicals got what was coming to them and Mexico

is no man’s land. Watch birds on national geographic migrate.
Amuse yourself in the sound of wing against wind. Ignore the wail

of the middle passage. Find beauty in trees where no necks were broken
and burning flesh was not sacrificed and color it Rainbow. You see,
its all creation. Streams, your feet washing clean. Your curved elbows
sending rays back to the sun. Your militant Khaki skirt wet at the folds.

I sent you a letter. In it I enclosed photos of you as I will remember
you tomorrow. Sometimes I am waiting for you at our pond scribbling
little notes shaped like butterflies and birds that bear your name.
It’s Sunday. How did you leave church to come to me? I swear you make

me laugh. A hungry bird once in mid Indian Ocean flight, very much
weakened by hunger and scared of what lay below, measured
wing against thigh and eat its feet. And as all must come down, it landed
on its head and died. My dear, eat your memories very carefully.

*This poem originally appeared in Hurling Words at Consciousness (AWP, 2006)

[give thanks for today, yesterday and tomorrow, give thanks for the continued guidance and protection of our ancestors]

Mukoma Wa Ngugi is the author of Nairobi Heat (Penguin, SA 2009), an anthology of poetry titled Hurling Words at Consciousness (AWP, 2006) and is a political columnist for the BBC’s Focus on Africa Magazine.  He was short listed for the Caine Prize for African writing in 2009.  He has also been shortlisted for the 2010 Penguin Prize for African Writing for his novel manuscript, The First and Second Books of Transition.

A former co-editor of Pambazuka News, his columns have appeared in the Guardian, International Herald Tribune, Chimurenga, Los Angeles Times, South African Labour Bulletin, and Business Daily Africa, and he has been a guest on Democracy Now, Al

Jazeera and the BBC World Service. His essays have appeared in the World Literature Review, the Black Commentator, Progressive Magazine and Radical History Review.  His short stories have been published in Wasafiri, Kenyon Review and St. Petersburg Review and poems in the New York Quarterly, Brick Magazine, Kwani?, Chimurenga and Tin House Magazine amongst other places.

Mukoma was born in 1971 in Evanston, Illinois and grew up in Kenya before returning to the United States for his undergraduate and graduate education. He is currently based in Cleveland, Ohio.  He is the son of World renowned African writer, Ngugi wa Thiong’o.  You can find his blog here.

He can also be found at: http://www.mukomawangugi.com/

[redo(ne): in another place not here, Make una read this list o! beaurriful people! E don reach time wey we fit dey use abbreviation for our own exceptional street lingua. Kpele o! We dey plot  big time to chop money… you dey excite now, abi? Yes, ooo.

special thanx to Bredrin en dadas in solidarity like @ http://papainstitute.org/, http://www.kubatanablogs.net/kubatana/, and http://blacklooks.org/, for introducing me to http://www.spectraspeaks.com/ to http://www.thefeeloffree.com/….   En on en on to all dey aiding me in creative process….kesho: seven habits of successful fairies]

[rapture.ase.]

(creative writing in memory of Grace Mera Molisa – by briar wood)

In this season of vegetables, the year you left us behind

The Second Melanesian Festival swells Vila

from vanuatu back to mama afrika

Black Brothers sing to wantok women

in the solid dark at Independence Park

a fourteen-man string band and one green guitar

rocking everybody at the gallery opening.

 

Between broken English and beginner’s Bislama

I explain to people of the ples I am studying your poetry –

but some hear pottery and give me directions

to the Kaljoral Senta where I admire

red mats of Ambae, dyed, matanaho,

precise, incised fragments of Lapita

black stone publishing

and join the large group gathering to watch

women  from  Wusi, Espiritu Santo

who have been working in secret all week

shaping layers from volcanic black sand,

applying designs – waves, fishbones,

pikinini fingers gripping the carefully shaped lips

putting on a red slip, sprinkling with seawater

the firmed earthenware exterior turned upside down

as the bundles of fronds and branches

piled high on a platform of hot river rocks

burns, flaring up with a flourish

in a process usually performed at dawn.

So your poetry has come through

that blaze of themes, critiques and dreams,

tempered words, fused to a brilliant black

and packed with your country’s colours –

graceful containers, holding the future’s truth.

Your poetry inspires,the pots are firing.

[excerpts from one of her poems – Co-operation]

We need each other
You need me. I need you.
Impossible to love so easy to hate!
It does matter that at least we try.
We play our role. We do our share.
Co-operation. On every level. Any level.

I

in the shadows of blue volcanos

the broken fingers of ancestors strum

koras emitting frankincense

 

II

i sleep with a Senegalese blanket

of turquoise sound over me

it stops the helicopter blades from slicing up my peace

spirits sitting upon an orchard of notes

sprinkling my dreams

with promise

as i wait on this celestial cocoon for silver wings

remembering the lesson

dealt

in the sacred mud

 

III

each morning i read the newspaper

and weep into a pot of coffee

i muffle my whispered screaming

with the music of the masters

i find religion there

rocking in ecstasy

to the heartbeats of loved ones

i open my door and

begin swinging like young Muhammad Ali

i rest between rounds

on a bus stop bench facing east

i fight to knock out the nightmare

in broad daylight

the bus driver is a Sufi saint

who only lets you ride

if you got incorrect change

the Zen bell has rung

[Poet Kamau Daáood is the author of The Language of Saxophones: Selected Poems of Kamau Daáood (Citylights Publishers). He is a native of Los Angeles where he co-founded, with legendary drummer Billy Higgins, the World Stage Performance Gallery, a nonprofit arts institution. Kamau recorded the critically acclaimed album Leimert Park(M.A.M.A. Records), winner of the Josephine Miles Pen Oakland Award.

He was awarded the Durfee Foundation Artist Fellowship, California Artist Fellowship, Cave Canem Retreat/Workshop Fellowship, to name a few of more than a dozen such honors. Kamau has performed his work at countless venues such as Dunya and North Sea Jazz Festival in Holland, Earshot Jazz and Bumbershoot Festivals in Seattle, the Steppenwolf Theater and Guild Complex in Chicago, the Getty and MOCA museums in Los Angeles, the National Black Arts Festival in Atlanta, and the Schomburg Center in Harlem. His early development began as a young member of the Watts Writers Workshop and the Pan African People’s Arkestra, under the direction of pianist Horace Tapscott.

He is part of the Trummerflora Collective, an independent group of music makers that embraces the pluralistic nature of creative music as an important means of artistic expression for the individual and the community and provides an atmosphere that nurtures the creative development of its members.]

Our real talks are like ‘a wom(b)an speaks’

(blood memories bout where we come from to dis’ days we live in and what is destined with the paths we’re on), in the spaces between honouring our ancestors, our children, and the future generations.

“It is time to speak your Truth. Create your community, be good to each other.

And do not look outside yourself for the leader. This could be a good time! ~

“There is a river flowing now very fast. It is so great and swift that there are those who will be afraid. They will try to hold onto the shore. They will feel they are being torn apart and will suffer greatly. Know the river has its own destination. ~

The Elders say we must let go of the shore, push off into the middle of the river, keep our eyes open and our heads above water. And I say, see who is in there with you and celebrate.”

[part of] Hopi elder’s prayer

…..these are a few of my fav poems for grey days with mounds of homework and metamorphosis, that call out to be pegged blue, red en yellow. Dis are some  of the ones I hold close to my heart…..

Moon marked and touched by sun

My magic is unwritten

But when the sea turns back

It will leave my shape behind

I seek no favour/untouched by blood/unrelenting as the curse of love

Permanent as my errors/or my pride

I do not mix/love with pity/nor hate with scorn

En if you would know me/look into the entrails of Uranus

Where the restless ocean pound

i do not dwell/within my birth nor my divinities/who am ageless and half grown

and still seeking/my sistas/witches in dahomey/wear me inside their coiled cloths

as our mother did/mourning.

i have been womban/for a long time/beware my smile

i am treacherous with old magic/and the noons new fury

with all your wide futures

promised

i yam

womban

and not white.

[between the lines: we explore indigenus myths en ancestor worship in diasporic tongues, in the spaces between a.k.a another place not here, like]

“Dahomey”

“in spite of the fire’s heat

the tongs can fetch it.”

It was in Abomey that I felt

the full blood of my fathers’ wars

and where I found my mother

Seboulisa

standing with outstretched palms hip high

one breast eaten away by worms of sorrow

magic stones resting upon her fingers

dry as a cough.

In the dooryard of the brass workers

four women joined together dying cloth

mock Eshu’s iron quiver

standing erect and flamingly familiar

in their dooryard

mute as a porcupine in a forest of lead

In the courtyard of the cloth workers

other brothers and nephews

are stitching bright tapestries

into tales of blood.

Thunder is a woman with braided hair

spelling the fas of Shango

asleep between sacred pythons

that cannot read

nor eat the ritual offerings

of the Asein.

My throat in the panther’s lair

is unresisting.

Bearing two drums on my head I speak

whatever language is needed

to sharpen the knives of my tongue

the snake is aware although sleeping

under my blood

since I am a woman whether or not

you are against me

I will braid my hair

even

in the seasons of rain.

[B is for bredrin en dadas in solidarity: our (vision) quest is to implement queer/trans youth arts collective/programs & circles for healing and self recovery in East & South Afrika in collaboration with anitafrika! dub theatre: an intersection of radical creativity, activity, and thought, human positive and moyo wa afrika: a coalition of Afrikans on the continent and in the diaspora who are committed to the reclamation of Indigenous Afrikan spiritualities, knowledge systems, economic praxis, and resources as the only viable means of addressing the colonially-induced dis-ease and dysfunction plaguing our peoples….

Lakini kwanza….]

A is for anitafrika! dub theatre: founded by artistic director d’bi.young in spring 2008 under the mentorship of visionary dub artist ahdri zhina mandiela, adt is a radical arts initiative rooted in the orplusi principles of storytelling, being developed by d’bi.young.

The 7 living/en/working principles are 

language, orality,

political context (or protext),

rhythm, urgency, sacredness, and integrity:

fundamental tools in the (re)emerging genre of bio-myth-solo-performance storytelling or ‘dubbin solo’,

according to artistic director d’bi.young.

[en between the lines: the Q_t werd is a documentary series/work in progress, charting the evolution of these principles  en reclaiming ancestral legacies……]

Through the intersection of these principles, the theatre seeks to explore and expand the relationship between the storyteller, their village(s), and transformation.

herstory

adt! is inspired by the seminal work of dubpoetry visionaries anita stewart and ahdri zhina mandiela. trained during the early to mid eighties at the jamaica school of drama (now the edna manley college of visual and performing arts), anita stewart wrote her thesis dubbin theatre: dub poetry as a theatre form on the progressive movement of dubpoetry into a theatrical realm which radically dramatized both the socio-economic tribulations of the jamaican people, as well as their potential for rebellion against their oppressors.

in her unpublished manuscript stewart identifies four major elements of the then emerging artform of dubpoetry — music, language, politics and performance — as bridges between the personal and the political and vice versa. stewart’s early documentation and analysis of dubpoetry as a working people’s socio-political movement, provide the primary lens through which adt! focuses.

in the late eighties early nineties, ahdri zhina mandiela coined and further developed the term dub theatre in reference to her own evolving work as a dub aatist. in the prelude to her dark diaspora… in dub: a dub theatre piece she defines dubtheatre as dramatized stage presentation comprised of varying performance component, including an indispensable/uniquely tailored dance language threading thru oral/choral work proliferating with endemic musical elements.

d’bi.young is a second generation dubpoet who learnt the artform from her her mother anita stewart and her mentor ahdri zhina mandiela. young is building on the foundational work of stewart and mandiela by developing dubpoetry/dubtheatre theory and practice through anitafrika! dub theatre: a launch pad of artistic training that locates itself within art for social change.

En A is for the legacies of audre lorde, that’s wassup!

Dream/songs from the moon of Beulah land I-V

I

How much love can I pour into you I said

Before it runs out of you

Like undigested spinach

Or shall i stuff you

Like a ritual goose

With whatever you think

You want of me

And for whose killing

Shall I grow you up

To leave me

To mourn

In the broken potsherds

Upon my doorstep

In silent tears of the empty morning?

But I’m not going anywhere you said

Why is there always

Another question

Beyond the last question

Answered

Out of your mouth

Another storm?

It’s happening

I said

II

Whenever I look for you the wind

Howls with danger

Beware the tree arms scream

What you are seeking

Will find you

In the night

In the fist of your dreaming

And in my mouth

The words became sabers

Cutting my boundaries

To ribbons

Of merciless light

IV.

You say I yam

Sound as a drum

But that’s very hard to be

As you covers your ears with academic parchment

Be careful

You might rip the cover

With your sharp nails

And then I will not sound at all.

To put us another way

What I come wrapped in

Should be familiar to you

As hate is

What I come wrapped in

Is close to you

As love is

Close

To death

Or your lying tongue

Surveying the countries of our mouths.

If I were drum

You would beat me

Listening for the echo

Of your own touch

Not seeking

The voice of the spirit

Inside the drum

Only the spreading out shape

Of your own hand on my skin

Cover.

If I ever really sounded

I would rupture your eardrums

Or your heart.

V.

Learning to say goodbye

Is finding a new tomorrow

On some cooler planet

Barren and unfamiliar

And guiltless.

It costs the journey

To learn

Letting go

Of the burn-out rockets

To learn  how

To light up space

With the quick fiya of refusal

Then drift gently down

To the dead surface of the moon.

Kesho……The (A, B, en C’s Of the) Q_t werd in dub video

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