Sunday, April 24, 2016


© 24 April 2016, the Griot Poet

He prophesied of heavenly realms and afterworlds;
We partied like it was 1999 in 1982 with his lyrical missive: “parties weren’t meant to last.”
24 hours hadn’t passed
When the blood sport of trashing just dead icons began
A “save shot” six days’ prior
When your former heroin habit;
Conversion to veganism and Jehovah’s Witness religion
Were public record

We have to rehash as we trash
The idols we once built up
Because like parties, popular deities weren’t meant to last
Little mention of your gifts to Trayvon Martin, Jordan Davis and Eric Garner’s mothers
Your free concert in Baltimore;
You channeled pain that would fell normal mortals into madness
Into creative genius
Teaching yourself to play 27 instruments
Without formal lessons;
Singing lead and backup vocals
Arranging and producing all of your albums;
Playing 24 and 48 hour straight sets
In Paisley Park
Where they found you in the elevator
We “all went crazy” on social media
At the news of you
Having “punched a higher floor” leaked out…

Though your lyrics were decidedly heterosexual
Your androgyny and celebration of human sexuality
Freed many an LGBT teen
Before suicide and apathy claimed them.
Now since Will and Grace,
LOGO and Ru Paul;
This freedom has become cliché

The freedom you championed
With the tattoo “slave”
On your right cheek
Giving way to the Independent Artists movement
That aren’t waiting to get “discovered”
Or giving over their power and ownership of their works
To corporate conglomerates
That leave them penniless.

In many ways
You were our Amadeus:
Genius and malevolent;
Pious and irreverent;
Small in stature and giant;
You were mystery incarnate,
The question: “am I black or white; am I straight or gay?”
You posed in the song Controversy
And like a Zen Koan, refused to answer it.
You told everyone to hold their prayers
For a few days,
Knowing you’d prepared
Not an unmarked mass grave as your namesake,
But a private pious ceremony
Planned with no flash or aplomb
As your stage presence had been.

Your ashes – like Einstein – scattered to the winds
And we are left with, like him, the body of your many works.

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