Asher Blake’s Brazilian Idyll

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Brazilian Idyll

oh Brazil,
oh coastland Tropicalia…
loose eyes are helpless.
I hold them with my eyes closed.
Closed by your clinging arms
like jungle vines,
my mouth filled with whatever
you call me, you drive
your jeep swaying
with our friends like wedding canopies
headed to the sea.

Left over microwaves are in the skirts
of the Manhattan girls.
The glass was dropped with ice,
dimpled with flossing ice and gin.
Hills leap at their untilled skin.
A morsel of advice:
his drink and your crushed body
beneath the music
leaves a habit dry, nerves for good.

Rented rooms fueled
with birdseed, with grains
of sun. Their text messages
could have been our text messages.
They culminate in doors, in depth interviews,
and your pregnant aphorisms that began
more often when I left.
The cosmos rubbed the mother
and father of fat,
eden, age, against my sheaths
of hair, shampoos me with its suds,
all over, rinses, yields
me, your woman, fresh words,
tongue, upon your trembling, twining, fingers.
Speak your mind.
What the Heavens can make you’ll see.

Linton Johnson’s New Crass Massakah

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The following poem was written by Johnson as a memorial for a 1981 London house fire that took the lives of 13 young people at a party in New Cross, London. There was an outcry because of suspicions of race motivated arson, white indifference, and a police cover up.

New Crass Massakah
by Linton Kwesi Johnson

first di comin
an di goin
in an out af di pawty

di dubbin
an di rubbin
and di rackin to di riddim

di dancin
and di scankin
an di pawty really swingin

den di crash
an di bang
an di flames staat fit rang

di heat
an di smoke
an di people staat fi choke

di screamin
and di cryin
and di diein in di fyah…

The author here, Linton Kwesi Johnson, is a Jamaican born poet and Reggae/Dub musician. He moved to London around the age of 11 and developed a strong political consciousness as a black youth and immigrant from a former colony. In his verse he brings significant boldness to race issues. Even as a boy he joined the British Black Panthers, and organized a poetry workshop in its ranks. Over the decades he has attained success in England, Europe, and Jamaica, for his writing and recordings.

This poem is remarkable for its even-handedness, skillful change of tone, its gravity, musicality, the immediacy of description, and its tonal and syllabic control. It is like a dub track in reducing the entire experience to a few elements in the palette. Johnson brings effects to mind through smooth and artful cycles. He foregoes attempting to create a full symphony by an arrangement of small aural effects, but does create big effects inside the reader’s mind while remaining technically small. And that is a dub choice. After all, Mozart or Albert King could create a really big dramatic sound with a few notes, but dub riddims keep the modest sound and still make a big impact.

I wrote a poem recently inspired by a dub toast, which is a spoken rap over a dub beat. The speaker though is not a DJ, but a sound engineer, like King Tubby, (pictured above,) or Scientist. This poem I have written is nothing compared to Johnson’s serious work of actual craftsmanship, I include it though hoping it is not worse than nothing at all. Click on this link to read Spinning Chester.  Admittedly, the poem does not reflect Jamaican speech patterns, patois or standard, in the street or on the mic. The diction reflects my own sense of song lyric, my own writing style, but it is embroidered on the theme of the dub toast.
(Linton Johnson pictured below.)

Linton Johnson

Asher Blake’s Essay On Form

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Needing a preface for my first real book of lyrics, Tribesmen of the Telos-Caster, God blessed me to write an essay sometimes risking overdisclosure, and grandiosity, nonetheless the result is personal and sincere.  Any responses to my preface to Tribesmen of the Telos-Caster are very welcome. I look forward to any comments.

Asher Blake’s The Emanation

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This poem was written for my champion dear dog, Sunny Freckles.  She is an Aussie/Catahoula mix, and very beautiful and smart. I suppose this poem is written on the theme of trusting the beautiful and smart.

The Emanation

I feared her heart was the type
to snarl and strike,
and so raised up her lip,
but she was fanged
with milk horns.
Whereupon, as live snail
quick in the grace of animal
love leap upon their brides,
her tongue in grateful emanation
darted me a lick, and swung away
contented, departing to the cool tents
of unicorn stripe and nursing brides.

Asher Blake’s Field Party

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Field Party

For us, break the tablets Levi.
These profligate days
and criminal nights run riot.

I want the tight juicy thighs
that don’t break.
I want the decadent dog
to lay there and wait.
Summer is a spoiled rotten Christmas.

Humid as beer breath,
Summer puts his equatorial arm around my shoulders.
Wearing a slick, grassy pompadour,
he cajoles and jollies and is a grueler that all love.

A grove of doves, like you Tata-Lucia,
white wings curving,
that is all the hope in my world.
The grape of doves and proper riches.

The Hero says,
“those who live only for pleasure are dead.” *
But who could stand to live for anything else?
And Tacita-Lucia, my wages will be coming in.
Now let’s get to my house,
nothing is waiting for us here.

 

 

Hope Gangloff 2

Asher Blake’s The Pride of Williamsburg

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The Pride of Williamsburg

All the scholars concede giants.
Monarch Nephilim may survive,
at least their bones, and why not
I? My breath snatched away,
beneath this huge mastodon frame –
the mastoid process is the carriage.
At last Williamsburg is suddenly swept
away by time, New York
teaming the carriage of my faith
with enormous showstoppers,
stopping even perhaps my heart?

For the history museum cracks me
like a fossil egg, my cold sweat, my
curious eye, the fantasy of ancient
universal power, the magisterial Hand
of the Living One I recognize,
where the heads of the sauropods,
like shoe horns; I climb step by step
up the ladder of their ponderous grace.

They are deft zeppelins
whose height in naked faith,
appears with no wig in the clumsy
windless exhibition hall.
Here no breath against the page,
no cubit, sterling, sage,
inside these locks I am fine, mounted
upon the sauropod, mounting screws,
a lab of plaster. Some day my frame
known resting in beauty,
the A train the same, Strayhorn,
and sterling fortitude for love.

Asher Blake’s Talking With Michael Black

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Talking With Michael Black

I don’t just love you in your kimono
rage, your outfit for oriental jazz.
Constancy, sweet constancy, your head
within our fridge. My child, love
is yours not for blowing piles
of Miles in a cocaine fusion,
cocksure in your shoulder pads,
the wolf-geist in my guest house.
Because you are my son.
That is why I love you.

Not for the way you read Ginsberg’s Howl
with the actual pride of your daemon,
attempting some crystal adage
but lacking even the Hebrew School
knowledge of that Devil Moloch
who took you hostage. We still
ransom ourselves mad, and build
bridges over Gehenna ravines
inside your everyday mind,
for you, my little one, are still in sight.

You emerged in an aureole of perplexity,
of misery. We never travail
in your worm-like misery, but I stoop
in the dark in my attorney suit,
my silken fencing mask, and burn
real money in sprawling Texan
wastebaskets because
I truly love you, far more
than you love Ginsberg.

When you heard you had a son, the lightning
flew, ran with golden feet on each stone
vertebrae, that was how you said you knew.
Though you crush on Coltrane’s chakras,
that thrum and moan with vibraphone ease,
remember the greater liberation:
being born in flesh and bone
as generations more of living beings.

Dear Michael, music of the trees,
monster of epiphany, I see through
the forest, I know the field.
I’ve cleared the path in pain, in part
by cleaning up your child mess and vomit.
The tragic song to me is always klezmer,
like some carousel of ecstatic clarinet;
like my old arena: I know the field.
Your path comes through Michael,
come and I will lead you.

The real thing can cost
in fire; surely some flames
may touch the original Nordic
boat, even you, the gambler’s
wisely crooked dice.
Not for any tenderness
of youth, but in your grizzled
cheek as you resist the mental
ward – we love you.

A baby, already you brought
the doctors of the void to sound
their “ah’s.” They make the
illness the oracle. By now
you realize that real inference
appears by sessions looking
in the mirror, and if you cast reflections
twice, thrice weekly, send the bill
to me; grow a full, luxurious
beard. Just comply with us
on this: please take your meds;
I beg you to take your meds.

I have swallowed your horror
since you emerged into this world
from the areola, burst out from
a bison side. Your pills now the whole
horror swallow. Eat them
and take what we give in silence.

Take a chair beside me; my chair
into your room when I am gone.
Grow almost like me; grow almost
as ancient beside me, full of the throat
that throws wishbones of law,
and sets down pillowed cushions
for the rabbis in the synagogue.