Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Marvin X thinking out loud on the OPD, Slavery, Global wars and the beauty of life in spite of ugliness


Marvin X and Nuyorican poet Nancy Mercado at the reception for him in Harlem, NY at the home of author Rashidah Ismaili. 

Brothers ask Marvin X, "Marvin, how come every time I see you, you with a fine lady? How you do dat?" Answer: You have to be nice, just be nice. You have to be a friend to have a friend, I heard. My three daughters have humbled me to the extreme as per my need to recover from the addiction to the patriarchal mythology and its Macho culture that treats women as things. People have noticed how my aura changes when talking with my daughters. In my patriarchal mentality, I thought my sons would fulfill my dreams but alas, my daughters have taken the baton and continue every aspect of our family tradition as conscious people.  

In my healing pamphlet Mythology of Pussy and Dick, the leit motif is a quote from poet Kujichagulia, "If you think I'm just a physical thing, wait til you see the spiritual power I bring." 
It has taken me a lifetime to learn how to be nice, especially to the women who love me and I claim to love.  You know my favorite song is Nature Boy, i.e., "The greatest thing you will ever learn is to love and be loved in return...."


As per the Oakland Police Department, sad truth is that their sexual improprieties and those of other law enforcement agencies in the Bay Area and coast to coast cannot be separated from the addiction to patriarchal mythology in the general society. The police only commit such violations under the color of law, which is a crime. Yes, it is necessary to hold them to a higher standard even though they suffer the muck and mire of the general society. We therefore cannot clean up the police department's sexual improprieties until we are willing to clean up the mess in the general society but said society is unwilling to give up male privilege and when it does so, it then becomes victim of the next gender group, shall we call it the matriarchal mythology group? Or the gay/lesbian/trans mythology group. My young brother was fired from his HR job because he refused to hire a gay/lesbian person at the request of the gay/lesbians in charge of a certain city where they rule.

So what is the endgame? The more things change, the more they stay the same! Alas, we thought slavery ended but there is more slavery now than in 1863. There are 3 million slaves in America under the US constitution or the New Jim Crow. 


We thought the holocaust ended with Sir John Hawkins, King James,  Hitler or was it Stalin, King Leopold or Pol Pot or Rwanda or Syria or America! How many did the US kill in Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan in its permanent wars?

Will our children ever know peace? I was born into war, 1944, and have known nothing but war ever since, atomic bomb on Japan, Palestine, Korea, Vietnam and now Africa and the Middle East. Who benefits from these wars, who suffers? And will it end with a bang or whimper as the poet asked?
--Marvin X
6/28/16

Catch Marvin X Sunday, July 3, 1:30PM at the San Francisco Main Library, Civic Center. He will be part of the discussion on Black Hollywood unChained, edited by Ishmael Reed, Third World Press, Chicago. 

Don't miss the discussion by Black Hollywood unChained contributors at the SF Main Library, July3, 1:30PM

Some of you know that last year, Third World Press published Black Hollywood Unchained. Edited by Ishmael Reed, the book contains a collection of critical essays by various authors around the country in reaction to Quentin Tarentino’s movie Django Unchained.
On Sunday, July 3, 1:30-3:30 pm, several of the authors will participate in a panel discussion at the San Francisco Public Library Main Branch to discuss the impact of Django Unchained as well as other Hollywood movie depictions of African-American life. Included with author presentations will be a time for questions and answers.
Along with Ishmael Reed, other participants include Halifu Osumare, Cecil Brown, Marvin X, Justin Desmangles, and myself.
If you’re in the Bay Area that weekend, hope you can make it.
Jesse Allen-Taylor

Monday, June 27, 2016

Toronto Star: Acclaimed Toronto author Austin Clarke dead at 81



Acclaimed Toronto author Austin Clarke dead at 81

Winner of the Giller Prize for The Polished Hoe, the Barbados-born writer became a member of the Order of Canada in 1998.

Austin Clarke in 2012.
Austin Clarke in 2012.  (STEVE RUSSELL / TORONTO STAR)
Austin Clarke, the acclaimed Toronto-based novelist of books such as the 2002 Giller Prize-winning The Polished Hoe, died early Sunday morning after a long illness. He was 81. 

Clarke’s passing was confirmed by Patrick Crean, his long-time friend and former publisher. He is survived by four daughters, a son and his former wife, Betty.

Clarke, who was born in Barbados, moved to Toronto in 1955 to study at the University of Toronto. A handful of brief digressions aside, he never left, evolving here into a frank and forthright literary voice and a champion of black rights. 

But he was leery of taking Canadian citizenship, acquiring it only in 1981, explaining later that “I was not keen on becoming a citizen of a society that regarded me as less than a human being.”
Indeed, Clarke’s observations of the splintering of Canadian society in the ’50s and ’60s gave voice to a new version of a country in its earliest stages of becoming.

“Austin wrote our multicultural moment before we even had a language to describe it,” said Rinaldo Walcott, a professor at the University of Toronto and a longtime friend. “He was an astute observer of those social dynamics, and he was a critic of it as well.” 

Clarke was bluntly critical of the endemic racism he encountered both here and at home, in Barbados, a colonial British outpost where he attended Anglican schools before coming to Canada. ‘Membering, his lyrical memoir published last year, recalls with vivid detail his daily struggles with discrimination in an uptight city of not-so-long ago. 

In it, he writes of living “in the atmosphere of great physical fear, of the expectation that a policeman might shoot me — bang-bang, you’re dead, dead — of being refused the renting of a basement room, or an apartment in a public building, that I would find myself standing noticeably longer than other customers at a counter in Eaton’s store, at the corner of Yonge and College Sts., that I might be thrown out, sometimes physically, from a restaurant, or a nightclub, as Oscar Peterson was, and face the embarrassment of being told by a barber that he does not cut niggers’ hair. This is my Toronto.”

Yet in private, friends speak of a generous, passionate spirit filled with an affection for simple pleasures in life: A love of cooking, of conversation, and of music. But he was also a complicated man, whose fiery passions around issues of inequity seemed at times to chafe with his conservative Anglican beliefs. 

“If you were going to have a real relationship with Austin, you had to be prepared to move nimbly,” said the author Barry Callaghan, a decades-long friend and literary colleague who in 1996 published The Austin Clarke Reader through his imprint, Exile Editions. “He was a worldly fellow, a man of elegance, a man of conservative principles, but at the same time, he could be engaged with people that most conservatives wouldn’t let into their house.” 

Clarke, famously, made a failed run as a Progressive Conservative candidate for the Ontario legislature in 1977, though his literary and intellectual fascinations seemed a clear ideological contradiction. He had built his reputation as a novelist as a keen observer of the nuanced plight of immigrants in Toronto, and specifically women. Meanwhile, his advocacy for a racially tolerant society had led him to places far outside standard conservative boundaries. 

In 1963, while working as a journalist at the CBC, Clarke found himself in Harlem, N.Y., seeking an interview with the great African American writer James Baldwin, but instead came back with an hour of tape from a chance encounter with Malcolm X. Quickly building a reputation as a voice of black empowerment in Canada, Clarke wrote at a furious pace, though his passion would drive him away, at least for a time. 

In 1968, Maclean’s magazine published a piece Clarke had written about his encounters with racism here under the headline “Canada’s Angriest Black Man.” Disillusioned at the simplification of what he had written as a complex issue, Clarke moved on to Yale University, where he became one of a group of professors to establish the school’s Black Studies program, one of the first in the United States. 

Clarke’s enthusiasms were diffuse, straddling culture and politics. From Yale, they would lead him to Washington, D.C., where he served as a cultural attaché for the Barbadian embassy in 1973, and back home to Barbados, where from 1975 to 1977, he ran the Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation.
He eventually circled back home to Toronto, and Walcott believes his return helped seed the rich literary fabric that the city, and the country, enjoys today. “His great passions were for food, for drink, but much more than that, for young writers across race and class and gender, whom he would have to his home and mentor selflessly, reading manuscripts and offering his feedback,” Walcott said.
Though his passion for social justice never wavered — he served on the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada from 1988 to 1993 — his commitment to his writing could be a powerful, monastic counterbalance. 

In the late ’90s, Walcott lived downstairs from Clarke while he wrote The Polished Hoe, in a central Toronto duplex. “I wouldn’t hear a sound for three days,” Walcott recalls, “so I’d call and see if he was all right. He would tell me he was writing — he hadn’t eaten, or slept. It would possess him like a spirit.” 

Clarke’s literary accomplishments, coupled with his strong social conscience, won him the Order of Canada in 1998, a poignant honour given the critical voice he had so often taken regarding his adopted homeland.

All the accolades aside, what Callaghan recalls most is a complicated friend who changed all around him for the better. 

“When I think of special dinners here, it was also Austin that said grace,” he said. “There was no one like him, because there could be no one like him. There were just too many cross-references in his personality. He was singular.” 

A funeral will be held at St. James Cathedral on July 9.

The saga continues: Oakland Police Department and the Mythology of Pussy and Dick


Sat June 25, 2016

Oakland, California (CNN)Four police chiefs in 10 days. 28 police officers with allegations involving a prostitute. Five police departments ensnared in controversy. Two suicides. And one teenage girl.
This is the volatile mix that has led to a sexual misconduct scandal of epic proportions in and around Oakland, California.
If that weren't enough, it all happened while the Oakland Police Department was already under the watch of a federal monitor and compliance director.
And the scandal all began to unravel because of the words of a dead man.

An officer's suicide, a secret revealed

Brendan O'Brien was an officer with the Oakland Police Department.
Oakland police officers showed up at the home of one of their own on September 25, 2015. Officer Brendan O'Brien's mother called them. She came to check on her son at his Oakland apartment and arrived to a gruesome scene.
Her son was stretched out on the couch, his mouth open, his body too still to be alive, according to the coroner's report. Investigators found him with gun still "on his right hand", and a bullet through his mouth. The inside of his right arm emblazoned with a tattoo saying "Live Together Die Alone," according to the coroner's report.
There were several signs of suicide. According to a source with knowledge of the investigation, the most telling: a suicide note. In it, O'Brien spilled details of a life he thought wasn't worth living, and an affair with a teenager.
"A couple days after he was found, I got questioned by homicide," an 18-year-old who calls herself Celeste Guap told CNN.
Guap says she is the teenager O'Brien had been "dating." And she think she knows why he finally took his life.

"He was really depressed and our relationship wasn't a secret anymore and he would've lost his job," Guap said. 
And and our relationship wasn't a secret anymore and he would've lost his job," Guap said. .
Oakland mayor to OPD: This is 'not a frat house'
Oakland mayor to OPD: This is 'not a frat house' 
How she met Officer Brendan O'Brien in the first place is disturbing in and of it itself. Guap says she was working the streets as a prostitute. She says she was underage at the time, which would legally make her a victim of child sex trafficking. A pimp was chasing her down a street one day in Oakland when she saw O'Brien.

"He saved me when I was 17," Guap tells CNN in a phone conversation. "Instead of taking me to jail, we just kind of started something there, you know."

Guap says she, underage at the time, and the officer began a sexual relationship.
The accusations are serious, scandalous, and if proven true, also criminal. Guap says she lied to investigators at first because she "didn't want any drama," but then they found proof in her phone.
Instead of taking me to jail, we just kind of started something there.

Investigators learned she not only had a sexual relationship with O'Brien, but other officers too. Guap says some of the officers even paid her for sex. And some paid her with information, tipping her off about prostitution stings so she could avoid them.

Guap tells CNN there were 28 officers total: Fourteen Oakland police officers, five Richmond police officers, several Alameda County Sherriff's deputies, a Livermore police officer and a Contra Costa County Sheriff's deputy.

Guap says she never met, but also texted sexually explicit messages to a former Oakland officer who became an inspector in the Alameda County District Attorney's office. That is the very office that will decide whether anyone should be prosecuted related to these allegations. Guap says the officers trusted her in part because her mother and stepfather are both police dispatchers.
No one has been charged with any crime at this point. All of the cases are under investigation.
CNN attempted multiple times to obtain comment from the Oakland Police Department, but they did not make anyone available for an interview.

Another death alerts the feds to the case

Oakland police responded to O'Brien's home after he called 911 about his wife.
Long before Officer O'Brien took his life, he was battling rumors about another woman in his life, his wife.
Oakland police responded to O'Brien's home after he called 911 about his wife.
A year and three months before O'Brien's suicide, Oakland police were at his apartment investigating another death. It was June 16, 2014.

Officer Brendan O'Brien had called 911. Detectives arrived to find his wife Irma Huerta Lopez dead from a gunshot wound to the right side of her head, according to the coroner's report.
A government official showed CNN pictures of the crime scene. It appeared Lopez had been sitting on the edge of the bed when she shot herself. Both of her feet were planted on the carpeted floor. A gun was lying near her foot on the carpet, along with a shell casing. A second casing was also found on the floor.

O'Brien told investigators he was arguing with his wife that night, according to the coroner's report. He left to go pick up cigarettes at a nearby store. Fifteen minutes later he told them he returned to find his wife unresponsive. It was a few minutes before 10 p.m.

Irma Huerta Lopez was pronounced dead at 10:12 p.m. The autopsy report says the gun used belonged to her husband. It was O'Brien's "off-duty firearm a Glock 45 caliber." The death was initially deemed suspicious. The coroner's investigative report said, "a press hold will be placed on the case because of the potential criminal investigation."

Our whole family does not believe she took her own life.

Then the rumors started. The whispers turned into accusations by Lopez's family that Oakland Officer O'Brien had killed his wife. To this day Lopez's family members still believe so.
"Our whole family does not believe she took her own life," a family member told CNN. But Oakland police and the Alameda County Sheriff's Office Coroner's bureau both concluded otherwise. The coroner declared Lopez's official cause of death a suicide. But the whispers around town persisted. Then O'Brien, who had a "history of depression and post traumatic stress disorder," according to the coroner's investigative report, committed suicide.

A source familiar with both death investigations says when that happened, an indivdual pushed the federal monitor and compliance director to examine O'Brien's wife's death to ensure there was no cover up.

Compliance director Robert Warshaw began examining the death. It remained classified a suicide, but the investigation revealed something else, a source told CNN.
Warshaw did not return CNN calls for comment on this case. Court documents show the monitor did take action.

Warshaw alerted U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson to "irregularities and potential violations" of an old "Negotiation Settlement Agreement" Oakland police were supposed to be following due to a separate case involving the department.

That agreement required the department to alert the monitor in a matter of days if there was an internal investigation going on.

But nobody notified the monitor about the sexual misconduct allegations involving Guap though they were investigating the case for six months, Oakland civil rights attorney Jim Chanin says.
"They broke the agreement," Chanin says.

Judge Henderson ordered the federal monitor take over the latest internal investigation involving police officers on March 23, 2016, taking it out of the hands of Oakland Police Department's Internal Affairs.

"Almost immediately, with the monitor compliance director in charge of the investigation, officers started getting walked out of the building," Chanin says. "There were suspensions and at least two resignations."

He says no action had been taken during the six months Oakland police handled the allegations themselves.

Oakland police: No strangers to scandal

Oakland Chief of Police Sean Whent resigned.

Since 2003 a federal monitor has been in place to make sure the Oakland Police Department complied with a negotiated settlement agreement stemming from a police corruption scandal.
Officers had been accused of planting evidence and beating up suspects. No accused officers were ever convicted but one officer fled prosecution and to this day is still on the run. The city paid out more than $10 million to more than 100 plaintiffs and agreed to make reforms, eventually ending up under federal monitoring.

They were almost to the finish line after 13 long years. Attorney Chanin along with attorney John Burris agreed to work with Oakland police to make sure they were complying with the settlement agreement.

Chanin says the department had been doing so well under the leadership of then Chief Sean Whent, that those involved with the monitoring, including Chanin, were about to recommend the department could run itself without federal oversight.

They fumbled at the one yard line. They were doing so, so well.
Then the sex scandal broke. Chief Whent, who had come from the department's Internal Affairs division, suddenly resigned.

The fallout at the Oakland Police Department had just begun.
"They fumbled at the one yard line," Chanin says, expressing shock and utter disgust with the latest accusations. "They were doing so, so well. This is a great disservice to the many good officer's working hard every day in that department."

Guap says she never meant to bring the department down. She points out she never went to police. The police came to her asking questions after O'Brien's death.

"I feel guilty, but at the same time they knew they were doing something wrong too, so I can't take the full blame," Guap says.

What happens next?

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf has slammed the Oakland police culture.
If allegations against the officers are proven true, they could lead to charges of statutory rape, solicitation of prostitution, and potentially sex trafficking, legal experts say.

CNN has reached out to the departments involved. Several Oakland police officers have been put on administrative leave and two of them have resigned in light of the sexual misconduct scandal. Contra Costa County put a deputy on administrative leave pending the investigation. Richmond police tell CNN several officers are under investigation and the investigation remains in progress. The district attorney's office has put one of their inspectors on leave pending an investigation.

Investigations are underway in other departments. The Alameda County Sheriff's department says they have cleared those named by Guap of any wrongdoing or unethical behavior through an independent investigation.

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf has put the City Administrator in charge of the department's administration and personnel decisions. New acting Assistant Chief David Downing will oversee day-to-day operations. The federal monitor is now involved in recruitment and hiring.
Many police officers not involved in the scandals facing the department are mortified and disgusted by allegations against their coworkers.

A longtime Oakland police officer who spoke on the condition of anonymity says if the officers are found to be guilty, "they should be put underneath the jail."
CNN's Nick Valencia contributed to this report.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Stop coal train through Oakland now, reroute through Berkeley hills!


Opinion

Stop coal train through Oakland now

 Sunday, June 26, 2016
What happened: State Sen. Loni Hancock’s two bills against the coal-train scheme cleared the Senate. SB1279 would prohibit the State Transportation Committee from funding projects for the handling, storage or transport of coal at a facility at or near low-income neighborhoods. SB1277 would require an additional level of environmental review for the project at the Oakland coal terminal.

What’s next: Close votes are expected Monday on SB1279 (Assembly Transportation Committee) and SB1277 (Assembly Natural Resources Committee). On Monday night, the Oakland City Council may vote on whether to ban coal exports from the new terminal.

What you can do: Express your support for SB1277 and SB1279 via Hancock’s online form at http://sd09.senate.ca.gov/contact. Demand that Gov. Jerry Brown, silent on the issue, get off the sidelines and oppose the coal project — for the sake of neighborhoods in his former city and to back up his words about climate change: “It doesn’t make sense to be shutting down coal plants and then export it for somebody else to burn in a more dirty way.” Send him your views via the contact form on his website: www.gov.ca.gov.

Novelist Austin C. Clarke, Canada's angriest "Negro" joins Ancestors, June 26, 1934-June 26, 2016


                                                    Canadian Novelist Austin C. Clarke


We received a call tonight from "Our Man in Toronto" Norman Richmond, Toronto DJ and journalist that our brother Canadian novelist Austin C. Clarke joined the ancestors a few hours ago. Norman Richmond and I met Austin Clarke after arriving in Toronto in 1967 as resisters to the war in Vietnam. I probably met Austin before Norman arrived. Austin and another great Pan African writer, Jan Carew, were our big brothers who mentored us during our exile. Of course Austin was not as political as Jan Carew and when we met for converssation the two of them had heavy political arguments. Austin was from Barbados and Carew from Guyana, South America. Austin's novels told of the Caribbean experience in Canada. We recall one of his characters describing the trip from the Caribbean to Canada as the Middle Passage. While in Toronto, I did an interview with Austin that I will share with readers as soon as I can find it in my archives. 
--Marvin X
6.26.16


Biography

Born in St. James, Barbados, Clarke had his early education there and taught at a rural school for three years. In 1955 he moved to Canada to attend the University of Toronto but after two years turned his hand to journalism and broadcasting. He was a reporter in the Ontario communities of Timmins and Kirkland Lake, before joining the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation as a freelance journalist. He subsequently taught at several American universities, including Yale University (Hoyt fellow, 1968–70), Duke University (1971–72), and the University of Texas (visiting professor, 1973).[1][2]

 
In 1973 he was designated cultural attaché at the Barbadian embassy in Washington, DC. He was later General Manager of the Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation in Barbados (1975-1977).[3] Returning to Canada, in 1977 he ran as a Progressive Conservative candidate in the Ontario election. He was writer in residence at Concordia University, Montreal, Quebec (1977), and at University of Western Ontario (1978).[1] From 1988 to 1993 he served on the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada.[4]
 
In September 2012, at the International Festival of Authors (IFOA), Clarke was announced as the winner of the $10,000 Harbourfront Festival Prize "on the merits of his published work and efforts in fostering literary talent in new and aspiring writers".[5][6] Previous recipients of the award (established in 1984) include Dionne Brand, Wayson Choy, Christopher Dewdney, Helen Humphreys, Paul Quarrington, Peter Robinson, Seth, Jane Urquhart and Guy Vanderhaeghe. Clarke was reported as saying: "I rejoiced when I saw that Authors at Harbourfront Centre had named me this year's winner of the Harbourfront Festival Prize. I did not come to this city on September 29, 1959, as a writer. I came as a student. However, my career as a writer buried any contention of being a scholar and I thank Authors at Harbourfront Centre for saving me from the more painful life of the 'gradual student.' It is an honour to be part of such a prestigious list of authors."[7]
Clarke died on June 26, 2016 at the age of 81 in Toronto.[8]

 

Selected awards and honours

Bibliography

Novels

  • The Survivors of the Crossing (Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1964)
  • Amongst Thistles and Thorns (Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1965)
  • The Meeting Point (Toronto: Macmillan, 1967; Boston: Little, Brown, 1972)
  • Storm of Fortune (Boston: Little, Brown, 1973)
  • The Bigger Light (Boston: Little, Brown, 1975)
  • The Prime Minister (Don Mills, Ont.: General Publishing, 1977)
  • Proud Empires (London: Gollancz, 1986; Penguin-Viking, 1988)
  • The Origin of Waves (McClelland & Stewart, 1997; winner of the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize)
  • The Question (Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1999; nominated for a Governor General's Award)
  • The Polished Hoe (Toronto: Thomas Allen, 2002; winner of the Giller Prize and the Commonwealth Writers' Prize)
  • More (2008, winner of the City of Toronto Book Award)

Short story collections

  • When He Was Free and Young and He Used to Wear Silks (Toronto: Anansi, 1971; revised edition Little, Brown, 1973)
  • When Women Rule (Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1985)
  • Nine Men Who Laughed (Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1986)
  • In This City (Toronto: Exile Editions, 1992)
  • There Are No Elders (Toronto: Exile Editions, 1993)
  • The Austin Clarke Reader, ed. Barry Callaghan (Toronto: Exile Editions, 1996)
  • Choosing His Coffin: The Best Stories of Austin Clarke (Toronto: Thomas Allen, 2003)
  • They Never Told Me: and Other Stories (Holstein, ON: Exile Editions, 2013)

Poetry

Memoirs

  • Growing Up Stupid Under the Union Jack: a Memoir (Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1980)
  • Public Enemies: Police Violence and Black Youth (Toronto: HarperCollins, 1992)
  • A Passage Back Home: A Personal Reminiscence of Samuel Selvon (Toronto: Exile Editions, 1994)
  • Pigtails 'n Breadfruit: A Culinary Memoir (New Press, 1999); as Pigtails 'n' Breadfruit: The Rituals of Slave Food, A Barbadian Memoir (Toronto: Random House, 1999; University of Toronto Press, 2001)
  • "A Stranger In A Strange Land", The Globe and Mail, Toronto, 15 August 1990, p. 30.
  • ′Membering (Toronto: Dundurn Press, 2015)[9]

References


  • "Austin C. Clarke", Gale Contemporary Black Biography.

  • The Canadian Encyclopedia.

  • Alliaougana Festival website, 2010.

  • Austin Clarke biography at Bim Literary festival and Book Fair, 2012.

  • Paul Irish, "Austin Clarke wins Harbourfront Festival Prize", TheStar.com, September 28, 2012.

  • Mark Medley, "Austin Clarke wins Harbourfront Festival Prize", National Post, September 27, 2012.

  • Austin Clarke named recipient of the Harbourfront Festival Prize", Open Book Toronto, September 28, 2012.

  • Tom Clarke passes, Nationnews, Barbados, West Indies, June 26, 2016

    1. "′Membering" page at Dundurn.

    External links

    Poem Times of Fire by Ayodele Nzinga, MFA, PhD



    times of fire

    by Ayodele Nzinga, MFA, PhD
    it is a time of fire
    an age of rising
    like waves on a
    black sea we are
    the pouring over after
    being pressed down
    fire on the water we are
    the lesson of the lynching tree
    the answer to cotton
    the trespassers of language
    undressing the weapons
    hidden in ink
    we are the dreams
    projected from projects
    the residual of slave hollars
    before the rebellions
    we are the pouring over
    after pressing down
    down we have walked
    miles in the rain & not
    drowned we will light
    the sun we come with
    fire we are of fire & water
    we are closer to the dust
    knowing we fall like seeds
    come forth in abundance
    thrive in the slimmest chance
    we come bearing fire
    born in a time where vanity
    rules truth tellers are slain
    poets are labeled mad & fire
    is born tended carried in bellies
    hearts minds souls
    hot like fire baby
    we don't want new dealers
    we want to write a new deal
    renegotiate the treaty papers
    the terms of engagement
    the boundaries of the public
    sphere & all thoughts of
    manifest destiny
    we come with fire
    fire heals & destroys
    we don't want a new dealer
    in this time of callous
    disregard the unwashed
    walk along the river's
    edge wrapped in the echo
    tapped out on iron
    Ogun proceeds
    Shango gathers the rear
    the sound conjures
    an unslave ditty
    with a free style
    cadence breaking
    the air of ignorance
    disrupting sinister off-key songs of
    self-divined too big to fail
    democratic failures playing
    one note  on the backbones
    of the oppressed wrapped in lawless
    law ink weapons protecting
    invisible war criminals
    law stealing lying dirty hands
    operation stealth cloaked in subliminal
    sound bites selling us crazy
    talking heads full of schemes
    no quarter offered
    none asked
    we have come with fire
    to light paper houses
    deconstructing language
    writing the narrative of
    rebellion burning with forward
    motion on our breath
    prayer is better than sleep
    action more divine than prayer
    movement is life we moving
    proof of life
    on fire with no more
    time to dance you a jig
    juggle two realities
    pretend like you make sense
    truth is a sword
    one reality refuse to
    be crazy for you
    might be a good time
    for you to stop pretending
    like you crazy too truth
    is a sword cutting through
    concocted innocence
    perceived fragility
    & delusions of supremacy
    one reality
    not invisible
    carrying fire
    forward motion on
    our breath armed
    with fire & truth
    hot like fire baby