Posts Tagged ‘Muses’

Today, I share an acknowledgement of the contribution and works of the much loved African American scholar, teacher and writer, Dr. Maya Angelou (born Marguerite Annie Johnson).  As I was going through the checkout at a local grocery market, the cashier remarked on the news that the poetess had died, and asked whether I had ever met her.  Without also admitting I have no friends or family who share my interest in poetry, I confessed I had not, yet, had already finished a work in tribute.  We agreed, her passing should be received as a peculiar alarm, and call for re-commitment throughout the Nation.  The institutions that anchored and flavored our earlier survival are disappearing faster than the 25-cent rent party.  An even greater onslaught is on the way.  The most fitting and lasting memorial we may make is to carefully preserve the culture that has been the setting for her jewels of thought.


[Maya Angelou, 1928-2014]

Because it meant the passing of our greatness
As a people it was right the neighborhoods
Should mourn and wail
“The Drum” was more than a bookstore
And a “hangout” for the ones who felt
Their standard and their scale could be
Anchored in their Negritude
A vision of Pan African possibilities
The rebirth of all tribal truth and love
An oasis became a desert, where the voice of life was stilled
Soft sands became the foundation, the campfires were smothered
And the palms and waters salted into silence

We quietly accepted when the “Negro Digest” closed
Its open doors, and publishers of our magazines and newspapers
Like the little corner stores where mom and pop had challenged us
By hanging foreign cheeses that made the place to reek
One by one began to disappear, we could no longer speak
As if a culture, a collective, an ancient mind today
The self began to be released
And computer generations began to forge a new age
Of communication, of social media, of tweet and hash tag
Of see is worth a thousand say
A blitzkrieg of selfies, candids, still life, and portraits by Instagram

We must alert our children and our grandchildren
the race war we expected, and worked so hard to shun
By replacing “burn baby burn” with “learn baby learn”
Was waged in stealth, with quietness
the embers of the midnight sun the signs of soot
In the turnings of the wind
As if still ruled by plantations that separate all kin
The assault on home and family by divorce
Thug life, same sex protest, single-parent pain
Surely we should not lose this pillar of our people
With only tears to go against the grain
Without charging our children to start to live with purpose

Person to person, toe to toe, some things ought to never go
Our theaters darkened by idol Internet, reality TV
The falling of our stars, an “out of business” sign placed on display
We are losing the great ones, the institutions that nourished them gave them to us, and that they bequeathed to us to be our own
The Apollo, the Howard, the Lyric, the Regal
Radio stations and DJ personalities
Our world will become a ghost town
Filled with shadows that are known by going viral
On a global stage
Our casualties and losses are more than we can ignore
fatherhood, heritage, blues, and legacy
The anchors had when everyone was poor
our barbershops, our churches, the funeral parlors
a city of nomad tents against the storms

We mustn’t let the loss of one more scholar
Be the loss of our eternal wisdom too
For this is not a time for weeping, this is not a time to cry
The mall is not a refuge, nor the “burbs” a hiding place
There has to be a warning
Even more than a pledge to save what’s left
The caged bird now must sing her notes of jazz and song
to hold above the ruin while we rise
Challenged to create ourselves anew
We must hear with new ears and see with new eyes
Beyond all ivory towers, projects, ghetto dungeon walls
In Harlem renaissance from house to house

May this passing strike our daughters like a Muse to shower them
In history, with poetry and dance
May they now give birth to the architects of forever


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©Michael Andrew Williams, 2014.  All rights reserved.



There is a lot more to be said, carefully contemplated, and spiritually reflected on than simply what I’ve shared here in a poem.  Even so, I trust this fragment will be useful.  Be it unto you according to your faith and willingness to love.

But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.  Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord:  for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,  And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:  (Philippians 3:  7-9, KJV)

Washington, DC

     Today, I share a poem acknowledging a creative artist and teacher, Amiri Baraka (nee Everett LeRoi Jones).  Also, there is more on divine revelation through believers.  I was a young broadcaster in FM radio learning and exploring jazz music as an expression of African American culture when I first heard a daring fusion of speech and music featuring the playwright and poet Jones with the New York Art Quartet (also known as NYAQ).  As nothing I had ever heard or read before, their performance of Black Dada Nihilismus (1964) impressed me with the ferocious intellect and power that are to be conveyed by the spoken word as art.  Our poets should also be firebrands and speak to the issues of our living, not simply the awe of existence or our polite sentiments as those who are now “genteel”.  Poets also must howl, kick ass, and show tough love until hearers and the world around them are “scared straight” and flee from complacency.  Every writer must walk the thin line between hypocrite, showman, and bearer of truth.  What it means to live forever must be succinctly redefined without arrogance before the eternal.  Is it any wonder, the Greeks aligned themselves to Muses, and the shepherds of Israel are fluent speakers of acrostic poesy?  Through Baraka the many hard issues of censorship, FCC regulation, freedom of speech as well as the duty and privilege for thought leaders and writers came into view with overwhelming clarity and power.  At that time, I received Jones as the “Father of my Black consciousness,” and since then he has been a major influence in my thinking and writing along with Jesus Christ.  On this past Sunday, in memoriam, a local public broadcast station radio program host featured Baraka’s performance with the New York Art Quartet of Music’s Underwear (recorded June 14, 1999, from the album “35th Reunion”).  The program host later explained by email, broadcasting Nihilismus instead would have gotten him into difficulty.  (Meanings for the chosen names:  Amiri is Prince, Baraka, is “blessing, in the sense of divine favor.”)

THE BATTLE AXE:  GOD is Showing You (01/14/2014)—A foreign nation and its ruler may be made known and visible by an ambassador who embodies the lawful authority of his sovereign state.  Similarly, believers serve as envoys and representatives for the unseen kingdom of GOD.  Those who are born again, must also learn and “grow up again” by meeting the same life challenges, tests and trials as all others alive upon the earth.   In the same way a spectator should know something about the process, rankings, and rules for the game before they can be fully comfortable with the crowd in the stands for a football playoff competition, a person should receive proper preparation to correctly evaluate and recognize divinity and godliness appearing in others, and in themselves.  See 1st John 2:  1-5, 1st John 3:  15-17 and 1st John 4:  1-3, 6 and 12-14, KJV.

He Done Gone and Died
For Amiri Baraka the African American Musicologist, Playwright,
Poet and Scholar (1934-2014)

LeRoi, who could smile so wide
He done gone and died

A quiet, poet’s death
Not like the other Bison
Falling wordless under arrows
The bullets of the West,
The Eastern tourists
Urban meat eaters,
Reveling in their
blood sport from a distance

Theater is where you find it
Make it
Catching the conscience of the king
Playing out the truth
In toilets, subways
The First Church of Dada
Sailing ships that lifted like a ghost

Showing life
To be or not to be
His own
A thing of black
Beauty, a new aesthetic
A new politic
And new voice not to be smothered

Who else could have shown us
The means of production
And socialist art
America’s true poetential for revolution
And Marxist magnificence
The thought of social violence
As the tool to gain humanity
For nation-building, baptism

Hearing our primitive rhythm
Our genius as old as time
Proud not poor
Hip not beat
Rich not square
Hard not foul
Country not nationalist
Cool not compromised
Angry not hateful
Rushing like the A-train
To get it done
And where it has to go

Not lamenting
Laureates lost
Newark’s neglect
Paradise, pomp
The clearinghouse bonanza
Where the mind’s packed
In champagne
Waiting for a curtain call
Another dress rehearsal

Like gun runners, airmen
Act like you know
Make wordmusic, song bombs
Glittering spears of speech
that loose us from this mortal coil
LeRoi just upped himself
And split the scene
Let there be applause.

LeRoi, who could smile so wide
He done gone and died

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©Michael Andrew Williams, 2014.  All rights reserved worldwide.

     There is far more to be said, properly shared, and spiritually understood.  (For example, many argue against divine law as an obstacle to complete freedom of speech declaring their right to blaspheme has been abrogated.  However, blasphemy is a manifesting of sin that may dominate awareness and self-will in created beings and living creatures.  As such, blasphemy is self-destructive and can not be supported by frameworks of commitment, common sense, consistency, respect and righteousness that disqualify blasphemy as affirmation of ones life essence.)  Even so, I trust this fragment will be useful.  Be it unto you according to your faith.

A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things.  But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.  For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.  (Matthew 12:  35-37, KJV)

Washington, DC