Search This Blog

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Fast Day 208 May 28 2011 4 YEARS {Detroit}


We are stardust in the fearful void,
we are Tuareg in the waterless empire.
This land is our father whose hair is jet;
it is our mother who is beautiful:
Antimony eyes, pomegranate lips...
County guys bring bitumen to fill
the potholes of our Red Bull washboard
life of peaks and valleys, highs and lows!
mom and dad sing to us until we shine!

The last drive-in picture show in Detroit,
filled with the gaudy films  of memory:
when we were homicide perp-walk city!
Space heaters and cracked plaster...
Henry Ford and Malcolm X...
Going to Quebec to bury Aunt Stell,
a boy says  "Hear yer from Hockey Town, eh?"
No comic epitaphs, no eulogy;
We are the Bedouin of this New Age.

The Old Kingdom gives way to the New;
and the Motown Spring - neither ornament
nor imitation - was the harmony
of the spheres that drove our autos a while...
bring us our Prom Tux limos of desire!
bring us industry Elijah hearses of fire!
On the river there's the Don't-Look-Back Shack
most people call the Renaissance Center,
but history is coke and cognac...
that's suicide by a two-liter!


look to the future, not the past.

perp-walk :  the walk from the DA's office to the jail

coke and cognac: suicide drink; I knew a fellow Marcus who loved it. He was in love with a beautiful girl who lived in Ontario. When she split, he killed himself. He could not live in the future without his past continuing on.

Bedouins: to the eye of moderns, a poor people, but the basis of the future when the cities have died.

I did not plan on having two Detroit poems, one after another, but that's life in the big city.

Friday, May 27, 2011


Blogger seems to have supressed the "Friends" icons that used to be on the right. I can not see it. My Design area says that it exists. So, I was going to write a welcome, but I can't see who is there at all. Sorry.


Monday, May 23, 2011

Fast Day 207 May 21 2011 {Detroit Woodward Morning}

Part of Diego Rivera's murals at the Detroit Institute of Arts

Detroit Woodward Morning

In Detroit the parking meters never tell:
three quarters gets you twenty minutes.

The first pile of stones we set
was for our fathers dear,
that we may not forget the creation
from carbon and from iron.

Kirby and Farnsworth are seasonal
dry-up river bed streets;

The second heap of stones we set
was in memory of our mothers,
that we may not forget the harvest
from the incised earth.

Then we set marble for our brother and our sisters:
cool mausoleum buildings where we laid our books
and the icons of a Yankee Industry
and murals of Mexic Rivera!

Woodward is the Father of all thoroughfares:
a mighty Mississippi!
old cars sweep like snags of rotten trees,
and we bob our heads and bolt across the stream:
big-bottomed barges laugh at us,
while we dodge a wave of feral sloops...
nothing but day-trip kids!
Everywhere you look there are lascivious
cornrows, reaching down like willow trees
upon the shore,
grasping for muddy waters down below:
tight rows spaced like pregnant furrows
worked with time, patience, and agile fingers!
bursting with the Earth’s delights!

I am a thief, you know,
and I midnight swim that river
and come to you to steal the silken scarf
that you sleep upon…
and taste the fruit of those rows of corn.


tell - "tell" is used in the sense of "counting:, the idea being the meters do not seem to tally the coins one drops into them.

This is a visit to the area of the Detroit Institute of Arts, on Woodward between Kirby and Farnsworth, across from the Detroit Public Library, which is next to Wayne State University. I was waiting and walking around.

There is a voyage through space and time: we are explorers of old - perhaps the first Native Americans to wander into the Great Lakes.
We set markers or cairns of stones to denote important areas of power. Then - as time passes - we build the marble structures from the monies of our industry. Carbon and Iron could refer to the Auto Industry, or it could refer to the heavier elements created by stars long ago.
The thoroughfares continue, through good times and bad, and there is beauty.
There is laughter...  and kids run around... and we are all here: Black, White, Hispanic; we are waiting for that bright idea of the future. It is not a Renaissance, a concept which has been repeated until it is meaningless. The Future will be totally new, and we shall be in on the ground floor.


Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Welcome May 10 2011

Welcome, Emmie Overtown.
The name Overtown brings Underhill to mind, but that would lead us far astray in The Lord of the Rings theory and nomenclature... I think Frodo in The Fellowship went by the pseudonym Mr. Underhill.

It does not matter. What matters is the Fast. Everybody remembers the poems, but then they forget the second pillar of this blog: the fast one day per week. It's all rather simple once you get used to it, although there is a cumbrous lot of canonical laws relating to which days to fast and whether the sick or pregnant (!?) may be excused. There even is a section on forced feeding of poetry to recalcitrant children... all very medieval.... reminds me of those German Easter decorations where jazzy rabbits in zoot suits are pulling fast ones on little chicks, making them cry!! Nothing quite like German Easter decorations. Scary. We saved one for years where Jasper the Urban Rabbit is abusing a brace of cute baby chicks who are pulling a wagon with all their might, teamed to the wagon with harsh looking bits in their tiny beaks!  Really appalling stuff for tykes. However, when I was a mere child, we used to have one of those Germanic comix where the Scissors Man went around cutting off the thumbs of children who sucked their thumbs: two strikes and you're out!

Enough of that. Brrr! Depart, Memory!!

Fast Day 206 May 14 2011 {Invisible Palaces}

Invisible Palaces
Mothers' Day 2011

The old porch where she combed my daughter’s
golden hair, where we sat on second hand
rattan from my mother’s great-grand-porch
where I mosquito slapped and watched TV
on poplar summer evenings so peppered
with life that they could never, never be!

Combing golden hair, she transforms
the kiln-fired brick, dusty mortar, and the tile
into a glazed mosaic of elegant scheme;
she paints Sheherazad’s aviaries
matted within a garden of vermilion
parrots and bright and hand-dyed toucans!

We sit in our bergamot-scented Alhambra,
serene as the Caliph’s diligent Wazeers,
in the Middle Ages of parenthood -
an endless arcade where metal windows
turn to rich Arab wood, and esparto
shades undulate to distant seashore wind.

Posted early because I can't wait any longer. Maybe I'll start doing two poems a week. Look out!

Alhambra - the palace in Spain
Wazeer - the main minister of an Islamic ruler

This tries to express how love and parenthood transform humble surroundings into magnificence.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Fast Day 205 May 5, 2011 {Graduation From Medical School}

Graduation from Medical School

What blush brings the night that sits upon your cheek?
What henna of sympathetic care stains your hands?
Which precious fine damask imprints the sun
to use for your graduation robes
in that princely gathering of laureates?

What color brings the day for your crowning gele?
Who is the Master Dyer who adorns your hands
with patterns magisterial to heal
all of mankind’s maladies and ills,
in your university of devotion.

More Colours! Many, many colours!
And lots of notes!

(1) Graduation from Michigan State School of Osteopathic Medicine.

(2) gele - the flamboyant and colorful Nigerian ladies head garb.

(3) The Master Dyer is Allah, or God.
This poem came about when I came across different translations of the word صبغة
or “sibgha” in Chapter 2, Verse 138 of the Quran. I was very surprised at the various interpretations of the word:

We see the old Muslim commentators seeing a reference to Christianity, a reference to the Christian ritual of baptism, a connection which I had never heard of before. I suspect many have not. Indeed, St. John the Baptist, who baptized Jesus in the Jordan River, has a title  الصابغ
"saabigh", meaning “The Baptist”, but it also means “(one) who is dyeing things, a dyer”.
'Abid A worshipper [of God]. A term generally used for a devout person. The word frequently occurs in the Qur'an: e.g., Surah ii, 132 {sic} "The baptism (sibghah) of God! And who is better than God at baptizing? We are worshippers ('abidun) of God!"
The word sibghah is translated by Professor Palmer  "dye"and "dyeing", but Sale, following the Muslim commentators, Al-Baizawi, Jalalu 'd-din, and Husaini, who say it refers to the Christian rite, translates it "baptism".
Others say that it means fitrah or din, the religion of God, with an adaptation to which mankind are created. See Lane's Lexicon  [BAPTISM].
 Hughes, A Dictionary of Islam.

Modern translators handle it:

Yusuf Ali:
(Our religion is) the Baptism of God: And who can baptize better than God? And it is He Whom we worship.
Zohurul Hoque:
"The dye of Allah, and who is better than Allah in dye? And we are worshippers of Him."
T. J. Irving:
[Such is] God's design! Who is better than God for a design? We are serving Him.
T.U. Hilali-M. Khan:
[Our Sibghah (religion) is] the Sibghah (Religion) of Allâh (Islâm) and which Sibghah (religion) can be better than Allâh's? And we are His worshippers. [Tafsir Ibn Kathîr.]
M. Pickthall:
(We take our) colour from Allah, and who is better than Allah at colouring. We are His worshippers.
M.H. Shakir:
(Receive) the baptism of Allah, and who is better than Allah in baptising? and Him do we serve.

So we have connections across cultures that were – to me at least – unexpected and very interesting, and we have an ancient connection between colors and religion and faith.
That is where this graduation poem comes from.

The structure resembles the previous poem, but I could not get it out of my system, and I did not have much time to come up with this.

Welcome May 5 2011

I have totally lost track of everything. I lost one friend, and then I gained two or three others. At first I thought Thea von Harbou had become a friend and follower, but that was just dreaming about Fritz Lang films, Metropolis in particular.
There are Evgenia, Aikidoka-Samurai, and Karla Torres to welcome, and CoolGuys to say good-bye to. As mentioned earlier, I had a comment from a fine, local septic tank service that gave me pause, thinking it to be a comment, but it was a commercial link, too. I had to deep-six it.

If I have this all mixed up, I am mixed up. We are used to things happening at a much slower pace here. It has been almost 4 entire years, and things only happen towards the deadline, when I force myself to pay attention to meter and meaning (if possible!) and sometimes rhyme and get those poems out. Hold the presses! Get my gal Friday in here with her steno pad. Run the stock footage of printing presses. Extra!
Then back to hibernation for another week.
Actually, this week I am ahead of the curve, and the poem is done. Ha! It's only Thursday, but it is graduation season and I have a slue of people asking for high-falutin' words, oratory, and general speechifying... mostly from relatives who have no intention of paying.

Welcome, friends!


I deleted a couple of comments for my last post, since they were both linked to commercial sites. I wish them well, but I won't piggyback their advertising, specially since they offer me nothing.

The second one was from a septic tank service, and I thought it might indeed be a valid criticism and comment as well as a link to a business, and perhaps I should let it remain. I did not.