When the stranger bumps his shoulder into me, hard, without an ounce of concern, I can feel the fire bubbling inside of me. The heat from the concrete rising up, through my feet, reverberating like electricity about to erupt magma through every orifice of my body. Lava that will oxidize every atom and molecule of his body on contact. The city as embodied trauma. The trauma of settlement. I spin around to yell after him, letting the anger fully consume my spirit as it has so many times before. I don’t know where the empowerment ends and the dissolution begins anymore.
Lindsay Nixon, “niya” from “Toxic Masculinities” in Nîtisânak. Text licensed under Creative Commons NY-NC-ND 4.0 2018 by Lindsay Nixon. Reprinted by permission of the author.
Nothing is gentle for me here. The fire’s
heat is brief, occasional. it’s their eyes
that burn the back of my neck. I was hired
through the same requirements and I’ll rise
through the ranks with the same tests. Yet, somehow
I’ll have more. With every alarm I prove
my strength, prove my skill prove my worth. My brow
furrowed, clothes soaked with sweat. But all my moves
are soon forgotten, disappear like steam
rising from my head, with helmets removed.
Surely, when they tell stories they don’t mean
to forget me, but they do. In their truth
it must’ve been one of the guys, that pulled
that body from the car. Now who’s the fool?
Suzy La Follette
Career firefighter, poet, singer Arti Twit and the Alibis. From Austin, Texas.
Rest in Peace, Rappers’ Legend, MC Big Bank Hank, of the legendary Sugar Hill Gang. Aged 58.
I remember “Rapper’s Delight”! (not the misogyny or the homophobia that is in there).
“I said a hip hop,
Hippie to the hippie,
The hip, hip a hop, and you don’t stop, a rock it
To the bang bang boogie, say, up jump the boogie,
To the rhythm of the boogie, the beat.
Now, what you hear is not a test – I’m rappin’ to the beat,
And me, the groove, and my friends are gonna try to move your feet.
See, I am Wonder Mike, and I’d like to say hello,
To the black, to the white, the red and the brown,
The purple and yellow…”
‘Contemporary Black American poets’ came in the post.
From New Orleans Public Library- Algiers Point. They got it in 1995.
Here is one funny piece of a poem from Thylias Moss.
((TRIGGER warning-sexual assault/rape.))
Moss had “beautiful, laughing speech” – like Yeats said of Blake’s says Harold Bloom.
“Doubts during Catastrophe.”
“No better time to recall God’s fascination
with his image. He put something of himself
in every creation. When he was tired
he made lazy idiots. When he had hiccups
he made tumbleweeds. When he needed a twin
he made Adam. And whenever he needed to
he watched Adam seduce Eve. And when once Eve refused
God’s eyebrows raised , merged and flew off, a caracara
seeking carrion. And then there was wrath. ‘Vengeance
is mine’ he said. And then there was his seduction
of Mary who had to submit, could not disobey the Lord.”
Harold Bloom comments:
“”Here the black congregation exemplifies the saddest truth that this poetic visionary intuits about her people’s intense resort to faith:
“Our shouting, our jubilation scares the ominous into
crouching behind our ribs where it intercepts what
would best serve us if it reached our hearts.”
That is so bleak an intimation that only masterly language saves it from being unbearable as a truth.””