Saturday, August 29, 2015

Near the Levee (repost)...

Architecture What is a Levee?
© 21 September 2005, The Griot Poet
Inspired by the article from Dr. Cornel West: “Exiles from a city and from a nation,” 11 September 2005.

Note: I corrected the spelling of levee in the title and text (it was originally "levy" as a double entendre). On reflection of the carnival barking political times we're in and to avoid the appearance of xenophobia, a preposition and country name were both exchanged from their original versions. The piece still hits powerfully, and clarifies instead of stereotypes, origin of the demand for drugs in this country is this country in total, and no one group in particular.

Dedicated to my cousin from New Orleans, John (Gus) Holmes, Jr., his beautiful family, and the survivors of Hurricane Katrina (note: they're all fine, and relocated to another state).


“When you live so close to death”
You create songs in the French Quarter on Slave Sundays that follow no pattern.
Rhythm set by clap and tambourine; washboard and kettle drum,

Old people hum in accompaniment to a Constantine Christian jubilee celebration of no cotton bailed; no backbreaking labor toiled.
The one suit you own is spoiled from overuse, and your children’s children carry on the tradition of “dress up” to anesthetize their pain.

“When you live so close to death”
The Mississippi delta builds a sediment foundation for your tragicomic pain:
“Laughing to keep from crying” births the blues!

“When you live so close to death”
People of your hue fought and escaped the French back in the day, and each day are turned away each year as they try to escape the death-hole now known as… Haiti.

“When you live so close to death, you live (life a little) more intensely,”
You create order out of chaos, from Massa raping your sisters and mothers to slaves tipping with another man’s lover: “hey baby, can we JAZZ around a little bit”?

Fighting fiercely in mock duels modeled after “southern gentlemen,” feeling disrespected, passing it down from Jazz procreation to your Hip Hop great-grandchildren’s generation as being “dissed”: with the same deadly consequences.

“When you live so close to death”
What are scraps from Massa’s table become culinary creations:
- Craw dads;
- Jambalaya;
- Gumbo;
- Shrimp Creole
- And Etoufée!

“When you live so close to death”
Lead and pollutants they allowed for your kind to warp your minds & drive the I.Q.s of your babies down scarred your psychology

BEFORE the levees broke;
BEFORE the drug flights to America!

“When you live so close to death”
You are not counted; clouded – an invisible majority under the all-mighty shadow of insignificance: exiles in your own country, resembling from years of neglect more “third world” than ninth ward or US citizenry

Hence, their news media in their quest for a ratings spree mislabeled you “refugees.”

Now, suddenly they are on our side, “shocked and awed” back to the reality of their sacred duty to inform the citizenry of a democracy… neglected for five years.

Shocked by the sight of dead bodies marred by dogs and crocodiles, piled in stairwells like logs… floating downstream! It seems perceptions change once you’re beyond a sheltered, suburban political haze, and find YOURSELF for many days
Breathing the stench,
Your own eyes seeing,
Your own ears hearing the gunshots and screams… in this country,
You cannot believe you could stay reasonably SANE…

Living so close to death!

Friday, March 13, 2015

Open Letter to SAE...

© 13 March 2015, the Griot Poet

Dear Sigma Alpha Epsilon (founded in the Deep South; University of Alabama; “true gentlemen”):

Some history: a mystery to you, I’m sure.

The “Divine Nine”: Alpha Phi Alpha (1906), Alpha Kappa Alpha (1908), Kappa Alpha Psi (1911), Omega Psi Phi (1911), Delta Sigma Theta (1913), Phi Beta Sigma (1914), Zeta Phi Beta (1920), Sigma Gamma Rho (1922) and Iota Phi Theta (1963)

Each were founded in the 20th Century,
Spanning the breath of Civil Rights history
From the lynching era, through Jim Crow to right before the Civil Rights (1964) and Voting Rights (1965) acts,
I know you lack the knowledge
As you and your kind spent your time in college
You had, and have had privileges, not frustrations
Without the threat of your rights being stretched at the neck
By a long noose,
Nor your women raped;
Nor your men burned and castrated;
Except by faux boogie men you created
In blockbuster “Birth of a Nation” silent movies
That shouted volumes of disdain at the freest labor
This nation has ever had
That would bankrupt it and the whole world system
If they ever tried to pay reparations

Many like my noble founders in Kappa Alpha Psi
Were the servants in your frat houses that waited your
Scrubbed your bathrooms;
And cleaned your floors;
All the while planning their own version
Of Pan-Hellenism
Our founders knew
Education was our key
To uplift and prosperity

Our leaders were trained
In Robert’s Rules of Order
And parliamentary procedures
To eventually elevate some
To the front of the bus
And the front of movements
Like Rosa Parks (AKA); Dr. Maya Angelou (AKA); Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (Alpha); Ralph Abernathy (Kappa); Jesse Jackson (Omega)
That would and still is changing America for the better…
Your little chant: you had decades of practice with that,
Rap music didn’t fuel the venom we all heard,
You’re sorry: because before I-phones and YouTube
You would have never been caught
Big brother isn’t just watching you,
That video came from a disgusted brother
Of Sigma Alpha Epsilon
That whatever “ideals” you once taught
You completely jettisoned
In a fortnight of utter error
For the pleasure
Of slapping every African American
Across the face,
Just like 47 senators sending punk letters to Iranian Mullahs
To openly disrespect and deplore a sitting president
In support of perpetual war
Please counter now with “you use it too!”
We’re aware of that,
But yet, when our founders formed,
Their Pan-Hellenic
Respectability wasn’t just “politics,”
It was survival,
So, we have no songs to rival
The casual poison you at least had
For an impressive instance


So, I repeat:
The “Divine Nine”: Alpha Phi Alpha (1906), Alpha Kappa Alpha (1908), Kappa Alpha Psi (1911), Omega Psi Phi (1911), Delta Sigma Theta (1913), Phi Beta Sigma (1914), Zeta Phi Beta (1920), Sigma Gamma Rho (1922) and Iota Phi Theta (1963)

Each were founded in the 20th Century,
Spanning the breath of Civil Rights history
From the lynching era, through Jim Crow to right before the Civil Rights (1964) and Voting Rights (1965) acts,
I already know you’re “lawyered up,” and will likely escape
The fate that canned a broadcaster at Univision
For daring to reference our lovely “let’s move” FLOTUS and “Planet of the Apes,”
You’ll be careful; measure your words;
And hope to God you’ve never again have to publically recant
And, no other turncoat brother of yours
Is present at your next racist chant!

An ironic motto...

Friday, August 29, 2014


© 28 August 2014, the Griot Poet

I don’t hear Jay-Z
Or his soon-to-be-ex-wife Queen Bey
I don’t hear Nicky Minaj
Nor do I hear anything sobering from “Weezy”
And Kanye – nothing more brilliant than “George Bush don’t like black people”
In the “shock and awe” of Hurricane Katrina

Rhythm and Poetry – RAP
Was supposed to be the “CNN of the streets”
Telling you like Marvin Gaye “what’s going on”
To a hip-hop beat
Until the suits
From Wall Street
Started putting percentages
On how many
Times you called yourselves
Or our queens
Outside of our majestic names for a plantation profit

Giving us bullshit
Step-in-fetch minstrel lyrics
Pimping our ears
With destructive metaphors

Programming us to think
We can’t be scientists, engineers or educators

Programming us to think
We can’t be anything more than
Thugs and twerking video vixens

The blood of recent ancestors calling to us from the ground:
Trayvon Martin…Jordon Davis…Renisha McBride…Eric Garner…Michael Brown…

Our so-called, from-the-hood “real deal”
Lyricists haven’t put paper or pen on first date
To comment on these public, serial lynching’s
And, like the NRA (which stands for “not responsible anytime”)
Who should have something to say about the “jack-booted, government Barney Fife thugs”
In Ferguson
Who after a nine-year-old girl
Blew the brains out of
Her Uzi instructor in Arizona
Just like them
I hear the same “substantive” refrain from our so-called rap artists:

Monday, August 11, 2014

Stage 1...

© 11 August 2014, the Griot Poet

Stage 1: may last for five to 10 minutes. Many may notice the feeling of falling during this stage of sleep, which may cause a sudden muscle contraction.
Stage 2: The heart rate slows and the body temperature decreases. At this point, the body prepares to enter deep sleep.
Stage 3 and 4: During the deep stages of NREM sleep, the body repairs and regenerates tissues, builds bone and muscle, and appear to strengthen the immune system.

It's like killing the dream before first REM stage.
Taking a page from Eric Garner: “I can’t breathe…”
This one – Michael Brown, eighteen – in Missouri
Visiting his grandmother
Two days BEFORE he was to enter college…
“Pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps”
That’s what’s said,
You can’t pull when you’re shot dead before life’s journey begins…

It's like killing the dream before first REM stage.
He’ll be vilified in public:
Just like Renisha McBride (knocking on the wrong door after wrecking her car),
Just like Trayvon Martin (wearing a hoodie; carrying skittles),
Just like Jordon Davis (playing loud music),
Just like Amadou Diallo (raising his hands; one with a wallet),
Just like Sean Bell (coming from a bachelor party before his wedding day),
Just like Barack Hussein Obama (“President While Black”)
Just like my sons, me and every black person
Whose ancestors were stripped from their mother continent for a
Trip on the "Good Ship Jesus"
Laying in bile and filth
Surviving a mind-numbing conditioning
That buried our native tongues and customs
In distant memories
We can no longer access
From slavery to Jim Crow to passed-over applications to disrespect
On elevators, escalators and department stores
Our queens treated like two-bit whores
And our princes gunned down like dogs in the streets
Channels my inner Pablo Neruda, and I find myself "Explaining a Few Things
For anyone who’ll listen, and trolls who won’t

It's like killing the dream before first REM stage.
Stage 1: may last for five to 10 minutes. Many may notice the feeling of falling during this stage of sleep, which may cause a sudden muscle contraction.
I am falling…
Raging that I and my loved ones who’ve never broken a law
Cannot be LEFT alone
To live out our lives in grace, dignity and citizenry
Pharaoh always kills the young
My muscles contract in Rachel shouts and screams
I am sleep deprived…I cannot dream…

It's like killing the dream before first REM stage.
“I can’t breathe”…
“I can’t breathe”…
Eric: “I can’t breathe!”

Thursday, August 08, 2013


Source: link
© 8 August 2013, the Griot Poet

I think of you quite often,
Body framed in sundress,
Bare shoulders, cleavage leaving just enough mystery
Eloquent and silhouetted next to Town Lake
Or Oasis sunset

I think of you quite often,
Sliding a supply of Shea Coco Butter ointment
To anoint your pedicured confidence
Slyly cradling your foot in my lap under clothed table
As we make appointment with our waiter…

I think of you quite often,
Reciting at a poetry venue
Thrilling audiences with your command of diction
Challenging the coefficient of kinetic friction
Where you have the proclivity
To line dance Electric Slide and “The Wobble”
In the denouement of festivities

I think of you quite often,
Saying goodbye at your front door
[You] Pretending to be in a hurry for an appointment
Wrapped in towel that you suddenly let
Fall effortlessly to your floor

I think of you quite often,
The cloth pallet at your front door
Might as well be adhesive spider web
And I, the fly, are caught in your spell
And any other appointment just lost meaning…

I think of you quite often,
Moving from the floor to the dining room table
Clearing the bar
Finally making it to your bed
Covered in rose petals and scented to fragranced bouquet…like you.

I think of you quite often,
As you “annoy me” when I’m trying to make us
Turkey bacon omelets
To the point I surrender and give obeisance
Turning aisles off
And using olive oil for a different lubricant
Kneeling to lift you on my shoulders as suddenly I realize I’d rather taste…you.

I think of you quite often!

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Can't [Not] Be...

Source: here
© 8 August 2013, the Griot Poet

I can't not be your boogeyman,
When your self-esteem is fashioned
Around me accepting
Second or third-class citizen status.

I can't not be your boogeyman,
When your echo chambers are fashioned
By bloviating college non-graduates
Treating others' histories like they never happened.

I can't not be your boogeyman,
When merely my entrance on elevators
Elicit stares of fear, dread and shifted purses; staring at automatic doors;
Michael Jordan and Eddie Murphy treated to the [urban legend] buffoonery when requesting a

I can't not be your boogeyman,
Levar Burton has his own ritual
With the police that was obviously amiss
When NYPD stopped their plain-clothes police chief in a back-in-the-day "stop-and-frisk."
(No Christmas bonuses)

I can't not be your boogeyman,
When store detectives piled me
Bodily into a wall of toys
While he turned blind eye to four pairs of
Keds walking out on their "own" (4 white kids feet)
'Cause he *knows* NIGRAS steal!

I can't not be your boogeyman,
When you know George Zimmerman
On a first-name basis on an impartial jury
Of his peers with visits by B37's lawyer husband,
Manicures, pedicures, massages; movies
NY agent book deals
Dependent on but one outcome.

I can't not be your boogeyman,
When one out of 44
Causes some of you to lose your minds and common sense:
2.3% isn't statistically significant,
Everything in probability and physics
Tells us there's no such thing as 100% efficiency.
(That is perpetual motion - real or political - and violates the Law of Entropy)

I can't not be your boogeyman,
I will not put my hand on a burning aisle
And hope you crisp;
I will not drink the same poisonous vitriol
And hope you succumb to death's grip:

I will extend my open hand
As our ancestor's evolved the handshake
To represent no weapons and our shared fate:

"For he has made man of ONE BLOOD..."*

The choice is yours; karma pays in full
Because, you see

I can't not be your boogeyman!

*Acts 17:26 NKJV - "And He has made from ONE BLOOD every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings,..."