Tuesday, 20 January 2009

When the levees broke & a black man came to the white house: drunken thoughts & poems

Well it's finally sunk in. A black man is president of the United States. He may not be perfect, he may not be Martin Luther King, Jr. or Jesse Jackson or Jesus H. Christ or Coltrane or Nina Simone, he don't play no saxophone, he don't talk no deep shit about revolution - but he's damn good and he bound to set some things right in America. And I feel more empathy for this man than any white man ever been president, and it ain't just because he's black, or because he's 'liberal', or because he's a Democrat, or because he talks about hope & change, or because he's gonna close Guantanamo Bay, or because he's gonna sign into law the Employee Free Choice Act, which is all great, but just because. Yeah. Uh-hm. I'm a little drunk. But never mind. Halellujah. Amen.

Just been to another amazing gig at Cafe Oto (every gig I've been to there has been amazing), an Obama inauguration party, mostly spoken word over jazz and blues riffs (played by some excellent musicians) by John Sinclair, beat poet and former leader and co-founder of the White Panther party; it was excellent. A word from John:

Because the war on drugs
is about building a police state.
The war on drugs is about building prisons
& filling them up
with more & more people like us

& employing more guards,
employing more cops,
more special agents,
more narcotics police,
more wire-tappers,
more snitches,

more prosecutors,
more judges,
more wardens,
more jailers -
the worst elements
of our society.

Sounds just like Foucault to me. OK, Foucault on benzedrine. Here's another one, called my melancholy baby:

in the awful aftermath
of hurricane katrina,
amid the wreckage
of his city,

his neighborhood,
his home,
his painstaking work
& his life itself,

looking forward to nothing
but increasing pain
& suffering beyond measure
as far as he could see,

the relentless public indifference
to the fruits of his labors,
the bitter impossibility
of completing his allen toussaint film

already 15 years in the making,
songwriter: unknown,
pieced together in fits
& starts, when he could wheedle

enough bread for a shoot
or get a print made
or edit something together
so he could see it - money

he had to beg for
from people at arts agencies
who couldn't stand him
& tried to ruin his life,

or people who dug his work
but never gave him enough cash
to make it all happen
the way it was supposed to,

this beautiful cat
with a big heart
& huge imagination, & a mind
that never stopped working,

the creator of "piano players
rarely ever play together"
starring professor longhair
& tuts washington

& the great toussaint,
documenter of emmanuel sayles
& papa john creach
& jabbo "junebug" jones,

employer of my daughter celia
& treasured friend & accomplice
ever since that day in 1982
when me and harry duncans

banged on his front door
on banks street
& begged him
to let us see "piano players"

& he showed it to us -
& that's the way I'll re-
member him, a guy who gave
& gave of what he had,

smiling through the pain
that wracked his body
& his heart, in love
with his work

& his daughter nell
& the music we all love -
always & forever,
brother stevenson palfi,

always in love with the music

No comments: