Thursday, December 28, 2006


Dueling Banjos - an instrumental song made famous in the movie "Deliverance" (circa 1972), see Dueling Poetry - a free verse conversation between two or more poets; the extension of social and/or political thoughts or ideas; a collaborative, creative work between two or more poets…. Definition by TGP

The first poem is from my friend, Thom the World Poet sent to me via e-mail today. My response follows his poetry.

At the age of 73
still doing the splits and performing regularly
with a history of domestic abuse
and public entertainments-
"the hardest working man in show business"
smart enough for HIT records
dumb enough to hit his women
That chasm divided all of us
who paid to see him sing
and knew he carried violence within
Perhaps his age was gone long before ours-
when men were patriachs
and women audience
Perhaps soul music encourages
a masochism and misogyny
that fascinates and appalls
enough to jail him
and to release us
from daemons who needed to sing and dance
"get up offa that thing-and dance!"
His mantras remain-but no one
can ever be James Brown again
We have all moved on-he has become
rock hard his story-leaving wife and children
locked out of the marital home
while he goes offf(for the very last time)
to the Apollo

(c) 28 December 2006, The Griot Poet

He was probably
more important to us
than Martin, Malcolm or Gandhi
with the same foibles, faux pas as each of us
(magnified to the nth degree because of his celebrity):
drug usage, jail time, striking his white wives...
his music, however reached us
deep within our "minds, wills, imaginations, emotions and intellects"
for a definition I suspect
atheists and theists can agree to be: soul.

He was bold enough
to use his talent
to ruffle the feathers of the establishment:
"say it loud - I'm black and I'm proud"
did more to establish identity
-- for a movement in which Malcolm and Martin
were polar opposites --
displayed by Afros, bell bottoms and dashikis.

at a time when our country fought
an unpopular war
(started by another Texas president)
that one mantra birthed the pursuit of knowledge
about ourselves
almost Occult -- so hidden on sociology shelves
and cobweb periodicals in Mezzanine stacks.

He did not slack
in his civic duty
to visit and perform for presidents
38 to 43: Richard Nixon to George W
and used his celebrity to quiet riots
after King's assassination when he could
have fanned fires with his celebrity.

Now, we have "step-n-fetch"
21st Century minstrel shows with
pants below the waist,
no knowledge or appreciation
that displaying one's male booty
is the preferred state
of one sexually submissive
to cellblock rapists!

He is the originator
of "shake your money maker,"
Yet, self-help advocates forget
"I don't want nobody to give me NOTHING.
"Open up the door -- I'll get it myself!"

Self-help and politics
are to be avoided
in lyrics
that only focus
on sex, violence and ignorance
for a corporate, plantation paycheck!

Hip-hop, like protest music and "Dixie Chicks" is neutered.

That pride has been locked away
on a dank, dusty shelf
not by systemic,
but by
James Brown's
spiritual children

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