Sunday, August 9, 2020

Welcome to Sadiq Mustapha

 

 
 
Tonight I'd like to post a poem that the Nigerian poet Sadiq Mustapha recently sent me.  I must also add that Sadiq has stopped by some of my poetry group's events on Zoom this summer.  I hope that he will be able to read some of his poetry to us before we return to face to face meetings.
 
Lost tongue of displaced bodies 

on the day it started my mother's 
laughter grew into a wail 
 her old transistor radio carried 
the message of the end
the one that has her lover's name on 
time's book and has turned her into a 
whole city of treasured memories

we read
aloud from a postcolonial love  poem 
to find our displaced bodies, lost languange, 
diminished love, to over come the mind's civic unrest 
and the violence of a pandemic: 

my mother losses her tongue to grief; 
sadness has a way of stealing sanity


we went to the hospital
my aunt's daughter is in coma
but, hospitals are arbitrary abattoirs where women 
are slain at childbirth

she woke from death to meet coma, 
womb damaged and removed
after childbirth. 

the next day
the new child died
of breathing infection 
no machine to aid. 

still she is in coma, 
we held prayers for her soul to unite 
with her body, burnt incenses and danduwala 
to chase hanging spirts 
Yet she floats in coma. 

loss is violence 
it butchers the heart into chunks of meat 
we are displaced by these losses: 
each making us a lost colony of grief.  

there is a lockdown
there is venting
there is the world gasping for air through ventilators
 
stomachs searching for fill 
the numbers are multiplying and death is, deftly having it way 

we have consumed more grief than we have consumed food 
my mother switches off her radio
she no longer want to hear anymore of death.
-----------
Author's note:
The word Danduwala is not an English word. It is a name of a perfume used in the northern Nigerian to exorcise djins (spirits)  
 --------
 
Tonight I'd like to play some Nigerian jazz from YouTube.    The first is actually a performance in NYC by Kaleta and Zem Audu: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A5lJS8pTN8E
 
 "Sweet Mother" is a popular song.  Here it's performed by Prince Nico Mbarga, Jr. and Rocafil Jazz: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L9TGZftpGVo
 
Jazz guitarist Femi Leye plays at the 2015 Lagos Jazz Festival: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SbocB9YuUyY
 
I'll finish with piano jazz by Dapo Dina: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4osUq26BCDU
 

 

Saturday, August 1, 2020

Catching up with Daniel Snethen




South Dakota poet and naturalist Daniel Snethen has been busy lately, editing an anthology (Catfish McDaris is in it!) and publishing chapbooks.  He sent me a few poems, which I will publish this evening.  The first is a charming sonnet about vegetables.

Vegetables

 

Rutabagas, turnips, radishes, beets,

store earthly nutrients and vitamins.

Fry them in lard, sprinkled with cinnamon

and you’ll have a dish most scrumptious to eat.

Rutabagas, turnips, radishes, beets,

very nutritious they’ll help keep you thin.

Consume these roots daily, it’s not a sin.

They taste mighty good and awesome with meat.

 

Sweet peas and string beans and gumbo okra

taste great in their seed pods but hard to beat

with a pinch of salt, slathered in butter.

Sweet peas and string beans and gumbo okra,

rutabagas, turnips, radishes, beets,

all taste awesome with roast beef and butter.




Your Lovely Pear

 

Thank you Dear

for the lovely pear.

The sweet soft flesh

and aromatic smell.

 

And when I smelt

and tasted of your pear,

sweet nectar dribbled

down my whiskered chin.

 

I thought ambrosia

should taste so good

and realized nothing

on this Earth was quite

as lovely as your perfect pear.

 

Thank you Dear

for that lovely pear,

that lovely pear, that lovely pear.

I love you Dear, I love you Dear.

 

Thank you Dear

for that lovely pear. 




 



Canyon County Predators

 

blue-green centipedes

Idaho camel spiders

hunt unwary prey

across Pickles Butte lava

beneath the sweltering sun







Arctic Melt

 

arctic ice melting

terminal global warming

polar bears drowning








Spilogale

 

We spotted the skunk,

not striped, but spotted.

 

Slaughtered,

 

along the bi-longitudinal stripe

of an isolated

Bennett County highway.







Nocturnal Toad

 

elliptical eyes

evening entomologist

western spade-foot toad





Insecta-cipher

 

Antlion Aaron

Always Ate Ants

After April.

 

Bumblebee Bob

Bombastically Buzzed,

Beethoven’s Bagatelle.

 

Caterpillar Charlie

Crocheted

Cocoons.

 

Dragonfly Dan

Dazzled

Damselflies.

 

Ernie Earwig

Eats

Everything.

 

Firefly Freda

Found

Firefly Fred.

 

Grasshopper  Gertrude

Gobbled

Green Grass.

 

 

Horsefly Harry

Hiccupped

Hysterically.

 

Icabod Ichneumon

Ingested

India Ink.

 

June-bug Julie

Just Juggled

Jelly Jars.

 

Katydid Kate

Ketched Khaki

Kinnikinick.

 

Lacewing Lucy

Loved Licorice

& Licked Lemon Lollipops.

 

Monarch Millie

Munched

Milkweed.

 

Netwing Nellie

Knitted Naughty Ned Nit’s

Neon Knickers.

 

Owl-Fly Oliver

Owned Ochre

Optical Ocelli.

 

Paula Praying Mantis

Politely Pickled

Pedro Pea Weevil’s Pea.

 

Question Mark Quentin

Quizzically Quibbled

Querying Querulous Queens.

 

Robber Fly Rob

Ridiculously Rode

Rhode Island Red Roosters.

 

Stink Bug Sam

Stunk.

 

Termite Tom Tasted

Tsetse Fly Tillie’s

Tangerine Turnovers.

 

Underwing Ulysses

Usually Umpires

Under Umbrellas.

 

Velvet Ant Vickie

Vacuumed

Viceroy Vick’s Violin.

 

Wyatt Wasp

Watched Westerns.

 

Xerces Butterfly Xerxes

X-rayed Xanthic

Xenophobic Xiphosurans.

 

Young Yellow Jacket Yao

Yo-yoed  & Yodeled.

 

Zebra Swallowtail Zelda

Zanily Zigzagged

& Zoomed.




Recently I was listening to Akale Wube, a French group that performs Ethiojazz.  In 2020, I've been playing a lot of Ethiojazz on YouTube, and this group seems like it would be a good entry into this type of music.


This song "Anbessa" features the late Manu Dibango: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TT6O4bDioAE


"Enken Yelelebesh" features vocalist Girma Beyene: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V5AcjXPSX4Q


"Jawa Jawa" is an instrumental piece: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R1fYa2kpXu0


"Ragale" sounds a bit French: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nRZSHEc3wW4

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

An Evening with Michael Lee Johnson




Tonight I'm posting a few more poems that Michael Lee Johnson sent me.  These poems are a little more melancholy, a suitable mood for the end of summer--although, as one of my teachers has reminded me, this is summer.  Let's make the most of it with some more poetry!

Photograph by Bernard Spragg


Dance of Tears, Chief Nobody

By Michael Lee Johnson

 

I'm old Indian chief story

plastered on white scattered sheets,

Caucasian paper blowing in yesterday’s winds.

 

I feel white man’s presence

in my blindness

cross over my ego my borders

urinates over my pride, my boundaries

I cooperated with him until

death, my blindness.

 

I’m Blackfoot proud, mountain Chief.

 

I roam southern Alberta,

toenails stretch to Montana,

born on Old Man River−

prairie horse’s leftover

buffalo meat in my dreams.

Eighty-seven I lived in a cardboard shack.

My native dress lost, autistic babbling.

I pile up worthless treaties, paper burn white man.

 

Now 94, I prepare myself an ancient pilgrimage,

back to papoose, landscapes turned over.

 

I walk through this death baby steps,

no rush, no fire, nor wind, hair tangled−

earth possessions strapped to my back rawhide−

sun going down, moon going up,

witch hour moonlight.

 

I’m old man slow dying, Chief nobody.

 

An empty bottle of fire-water whiskey

lies on homespun rug,

cut excess from life,

partially smoked homemade cigar

barely burning,

that dance of tears.

 

*Music Video Credit:  Native American Indian Music - Sunset Ceremony- Earth Drums 02


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QtdYWcoYKWo


To hear Michael read this poem, please follow this link:




Missing Feeding the Birds

By Michael Lee Johnson

 

Keeping my daily journal diary short

these sweet bird sounds lost-

reviews January through March.

Joy a dig deep snow on top of my sorrows.

Skinny naked bones sparrows these doves

beneath my balcony window,

lie lifeless without tweet

no melody lost their sounds.

 

These few survivors huddle in scruffy bushes.

Gone that plastic outdoor kitchen bowl that held the seeds.

 

I drink dated milk, distraught rehearse nightmares of childhood.

Sip Mogen David Concord Wine with diet 7Up.

Down sweet molasses and pancake butter.

I miss the feeding  the birds, these condominiums regulations,

callous neighbors below me, Polish complaints.

Their parties, foul language, Polish songs late at night,

these Vodka mornings-no one likes my feeding of birds.

 

I feel weak and Jesus poor, starving, I can’t feed the birds.

I dry thoughts merge day with night, ZzzQuil, seldom sleep.

 

Guilt I cover my thoughts of empty shell spotted snow

these fragments, bone parts and my prayers-

Jesus dwelling in my brain cells, dead birds outside.

I miss feeding  the birds.


A recording of Michael reading this poem is available on You Tube.




Open Eyes Laid Back

By Michael Lee Johnson

 

Open eyes, black-eyed peas,

laid back busy lives,

consuming our hours,

handheld devices

grocery store

“which can Jolly Green Giant peas,

alternatives,

darling, to bring home tonight-

these aisles of decisions.”

Mind gap:

“Before long apps

will be wiping our butts

and we, others, our children

will not notice.”

No worries, outer space,

an app for horoscope, astrology

a co-pilot to keep our cold feet

tucked in.


To listen to Michael recite this poem, please go to this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qDcrurNlpz8





Tequila

By Michael Lee Johnson

 

Single life is Tequila with a slice of lime,

Shots offered by traveling strangers.

Play them all deal them jacks, some diamonds

then spades, hold back aces play hardball,

mock the jokers.

Paraplegic aging tumblers toss rocks,

Their dice go for the one-night stand.

Poltergeist fluid define another frame.

Female dancers in the corner

Crooked smiles in shadows.

Single ladies don’t eat that tequila worm

dangle down the real story beneath their belts.

Men bashful, yet loud on sounds, but right times soft spoken.

Ladies men lack caring verbs, traitors to your skin.

Ladies if you really want the worm, Mescal,

don’t be confused after midnight.


Here is a recording of Michael reading "Tequila": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YWdtVP3UekE



Michael Lee Johnson lived 10 years in Canada during the Vietnam era and is a dual citizen of the United States and Canada. Today he is a poet, freelance writer, amateur photographer, and small business owner in Itasca, DuPage County, Illinois. Mr. Johnson published in more than 1072 new publications, his poems have appeared in 38 countries, he edits, publishes 10 poetry sites. Michael Lee Johnson, has been nominated for 2 Pushcart Prize awards poetry 2015/1 Best of the Net 2016/2 Best of the Net 2017, 2 Best of the Net 2018. 204 poetry videos are now on YouTube at POETRYMANUSA; Editor-in-chief poetry anthology, Moonlight Dreamers of Yellow Haze; editor-in-chief poetry anthology, Dandelion in a Vase of Roses; Editor-in-chief Warriors with Wings: the Best in Contemporary Poetry

https://www.amazon.com/Michael-Lee-Johnson/e/B0055HTMBQ%3Fref=dbs_a_mng_rwt_scns_share


Technically, it is tomorrow, so let's add a little music.  


I'm posting Woody Shaw's "Rosewood": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NzSYLDLqDew&list=PLAHibYIS1Smf0Fg9kLtYYupKVUo8GpsHb


The other song is his "Theme for Maxine": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CufYDAopGNA&list=PLAHibYIS1Smf0Fg9kLtYYupKVUo8GpsHb

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Welcome to Michael Amitin from Paris!

Photograph by  Christophe Alary




Tonight we fly from Montreal to Paris with Michael Amitin's poems!




Marooned Bells

Marooned on a couch brown raft -rocking lle-de-France
Sullen blackboard jazz blowin from across the navy N’Awleans seas

Slo-mo angels doing somersaults on my torn red curtain reverie
in these broken Halloween bones and mask
I rummage through the ashes that crashed me into
this pink, new golden face dawn..

floating past jagged-edged icicles into the night melting
chocolate Clark Terry’s “They Didn’t Believe Me.”

Love lost is something we can never afford
head stuck on a starboard mast
crashing through storm waves painted in dead dreams

And feeling that familiar frost-bitten regret again- that we never consummated the close quarters of then,,,what are regrets other than dead sea gulls floating in a ghost soup sea






Dylan has Blue Eyes

Dylan has Blue Eyes
blue as acid rain above the iron mines
he stole away in the steel toe, snowy night
tangled up in a winter howl New York
blue parade - watchman cries like a wayward stork
collapsing in post-war wharfs of solitude
its all over now
JFK bullets signed, sealed delivered
Dylan’d just arrived in town

Escorting Jane thru after hour dark sour alley ways
creak-eyed ragtime forgotten stairs,,
making love till daybreak in lonely whistlestop shadows  
below the seedy swept windowpanes-
Cinderella sweeps up night's sad confetti
Jane deep blue morning
he's hopped a passing train
to the next crumbling town
hurling knaves to the boiler pot
on the tombstone heels of Jack K
he carved his plot

Dylan has blue eyes
seen Hurricane Carter do blasphemous time,,
Emmett Till dug up from southern soup brines
Hattie Carroll, the deluge feral- bombers flying grease oil nights,
innocence chained in a Texas two-step charade
angels crying star spangled tears

She hears the tracks rumble
left behind on anxious street,
she awakens, lifts her finger to the wind
knows what direction he’s in, far from that
bluelight dream hotel




Danse of the Exotic Bolivian Food Massacre

And in that dream
A Spaniard playing charango- leans over, turns on
a tape
‘spill your life’s purpose’
a half-pint remains
my lies shake the roof
Caroline sashays
high on hoisting red flag-draped trays
exotic bolivian food shades
streamers bouncing off her marble-fine high- octane silken New York culture thighs
In a dark alley panic- thinking I’d left behind my Mandolin
Her matchstick lit me back into flame
when I grew tired of counting ashes
beige corduroy pantlegs crossed in the woody smell
of the dank gallery Monmartre nights


Photograph by Elvert Barnes





Marvin

What’s goin’ on?
Manrique asks
he slides into the ripped red passenger seat
my beaten up, burgundy wine-stained Nissan
Fresh from a 7/11 twinkie run
he looks at me- pale behind the wheel
drivers blaring
for us to hightail our asses out of the
thin slice strip mall parking space
Marvin, man..
Huh?
MARVIN’S DEAD
Marvin..just heard it on the radio,
Marvin? Marvin Gaye?
yeah

How?
Filicide, man- his pentacostal cross-dressing papa preacher
sprayed a bullet right through Marvin’s gold record
broken chequered cocaine-stained heart
golden voice over, here in ’84
so young, tragic in the magic, why?
so great
mercy, mercy me



Poet, storyteller and musician, Michael D. Amitin spent most of his life traveling the roads of the American West from California- east through the smoky burgs and train depot diners of Western Colorado, where he lived before moving to Paris.

   Inspired by Yeats, Corso and Ginsberg, Amitin has recently been named International Beat Poet Laureate 2020-2021. His poems have been published in California Quarterly, AbstractMagazineTV, Black Magnolias, Poetry Pacific, and others.

    A current collaboration with Parisian photographer Julie Peiffer has given rise to the "Riverlights" project, and a chapbook entitled ‘Riverlights.’





Let's finish up with some music, starting with the Clark Terry piece that Michael mentioned in his first poem..."They Didn't Believe Me": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MG6gnP9Y_sc

I couldn't find a video for the Benoist Raffin Trio, so here is the Clover Trio with "Prayer to the Unfamiliar."  Raffin is the drummer.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eW7LqWOLj10

Chris Thile and Brad Mehldau play Dylan's "Scarlet Town" here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yEVnOgtJSY0&list=PL3nLxk67YqZlz8opJyMfuBc8T_wG41yIX&index=3&t=0s

Here Marvin Gaye sings "What's Going On" at the 1980 Montreux Jazz Festival: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TpGPBoS5nTE