This poem was written for my feature performance at the kickoff event of JC Opens Up the Mic Tour 2011, held at the Warehouse Cafe, Sunday, 31 Jul 11. The theme of the event was the title of the film screened at this event, called "Committing Poetry in Times of War." (You can watch this film in its entirety on Hulu.com.)
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Of Poetry and Doing
We’re still doing this Speaking Truth to Power
And there is little More important More infective More inspiring Than the word Well turned
Because war is a hell That cannot be imagined And catches fire to Everything it touches And makes it legend
I am a child of war That touched me through My mother and my father Both of whom resisted Telling me much about The pink elephant that lived with us.
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Write a poem about homeless people Make it be impossible To turn into banality
Take it on the road keep it fresh in your mind stand up walk out (don’t forget your keys)
Step lively to that place Where you know these people are Or, if you don’t remember, Just go to Journal Square But make sure it’s before 11pm Cz that’s when they get locked out And they have to find a place to hang for the night And that’s 365.
What was it that your poem said? Well, here it is in front of you. And what, dear one, is it that now You are going to do?
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There’s poetry to be written About poverty and fear And racial inequality Yes, sisters, it’s still here (Though if we keep together Like we’re doing We’ll go far To get clear.)
There’s poetry to be written About the world we want for us The one that must be new. What is it, fellow poets, That we are going to do?
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Write a poem about dis-ease And why it takes so very long To put our children’s education First, before so many wrongs
It’s more important than a bomb Than drone attacks and weak will That brings young men, and women now, together To kill from fear And for sport In war-torn lands
We saved them from the plunderers We’re told they begged us for our help And plunder now aplenty And take it for ourselves
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Poetry and peace More important than Cynicism Propping up one hateful, cruel regime While we attack another Stealing the cash out of our own pockets To spend this dirty act And tell ourselves we’re safer if we give When we cannot afford to even live
To fund the next war I’m telling you Because war is a fucking money maker And somehow that’s become The most important thing To those who TAKE our taxes
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Write a poem about health care And how it’s not a right How having no insurance means You go without good care for years And when you die We wonder why Could medicine not save her? Of course, it could It chose instead to lobby for Drugs and money
Write a poem about Drugs and money I dare you.
I dare you to write a poem About THOSE drugs and money And make it sweet and Hard to resist And name names And name the government-pharmaco tryst
And get it out to 10,000 readers Don’t wait to be published Cz that will take forever Decide you will do it Self-publish Self-publish Self-publish
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Write a poem about The incarceration industry About millions MILLIONS of prisoners The BILLIONS AND BILLIONS of dollars And how we need the system to grow So there are some jobs Which are reasons to keep it all going. Oh, right Drugs and money.
What difference does it make that you are here? What difference Do you make?
“Poets are pioneers in language So, to people who are interested in controlling language, Poetry can be a threat.” - the man said in the movie.
A threat is only worth its life If there are teeth behind it Chew on this: There are thieves and liars Running things out there Who need to be reminded.
And you are not alone, my friend I am here too And together we are two And then there are these other few
And in other places There are faces Hearts and minds That come together As we have Connect with them Establish a tether Of intention and will Of word - oh, powerful words! Of language and of action Of poetry and doing
So, I got new headshots. Beautiful, right?! (Two of them are visible on this page.) I'm referring not so much to the subject matter (although she is impossible to ignore!) as to the photographer, Jessica Siemens. I met Jessica through a friend a couple of years ago and I'm so glad I decided to let her take my new publicity photos. Jessica has been photographing professionally for a long time, so it was surprising to see how organically she works, all up close in natural light. She captures the real you. Take a look at the mini portfolios on her website, and LIKE the Jessica Siemens Photography Facebook page. She's a very cool person and charges very reasonable rates for amazing work. I am so pleased!
Uptown Crew is all over Monticello Avenue these days. I'm hosting our Open Mic every 2nd and 4th Thursday at Moore's Lounge, 189 Monticello Avenue. Moore's has become something of a second home for me, especially since it's practically around the corner from where I live. I'm happy to see that the UC Open Mic has brought new attention and business to this 40+ year community establishment.
Besides Uptown Crew's open mics, Moore's is famous for live jazz. My whole neighborhood, from Journal Square down to Communipaw, West Side Avenue to Monticello, probably has the highest concentration of world-class jazz musicians, and live jazz performances, in all of New Jersey! I'm not kidding -- it's amazing.
So...I'm co-producing a jazz showcase of three live bands at Moore's with two veteran producers and live music professionals: Nick Ciavatta, a highly accomplished singer/songwriter in his own right, an outstanding voice-over artist (you have heard him many times!), and CEO of Friggin Fabulous Productions, and world music expert Neva Wartell, aka DJ Neva, an ethnomusicologist and the brilliant mind behind the Music for the Masses movement. The June 3 show is called JC Originals Jazz, it's part of JC Fridays, and it's going to be amazing!
Inspired by hanging around some super talent singer-songwriters over the past half a year, I've written three new songs in 2011. Nothing on audio/video yet, but come out to one of the Uptown Crew Open Mics and you're likely to hear one of them. I have a new cover too, an old Percy Sledge favorite of mine: At the Dark End of the Street.
I've been cast in a new off-off-Broadway one-act play...Galileo the Musical opens June 8 as part of the Planet Connections Festivity in New York City. This annual theatrical festival focuses on works with an environmental theme. Galileo the Musical jumps from the present, where scientist John Holden attempts to convince Congress that global warming is a real and present danger back to the court of Pope Urban where Galileo attempts to convince the clergy that the earth is not really the center of the universe. Both gentlemen suffer sad rebuke. It's a great play, and I'm super pleased to be involved with such talented people! Being in this production has given me the opportunity I've been looking for: It's made me refocus on my legit singing, what with all the vocal pyrotechnics! Come if you can, and please donate to our fundraising campaign - even $5 makes a difference. Galileo the Musical is a _gaia production.
I'm also working on a spoken word CD. We're in editing mode, and an awesome artist is on board for the artwork. Sorry...can't say too much about it now, but this CD should be available for purchase within the next few months.
Other than that, I'm focused on my domesticity, my heart, and bringing Uptown Crew to the next level - we're working on our 501(c)3 application! Please, LIKE our Facebook page and, if you can, make a donation to support our ongoing activities. We've got a lot in store for the next twelve months, and we need your help -- THE CREW IS YOU!
hi. hi. I can't chat with you. ok. i'm too angry. You're too angry to chat? Yes wow yeah, wow I don't know what you want me to say yeah, I know that too and remember, I can't chat with you. You're not being fair excuse me? Oh ok nevermind you are right I am sorry to have to say this but I do. You are so lame. Nice honest guess I can count on that more than I can ok. that's fair. There's nothing fair about this whole thing. Please stop chatting me. Ok
hi. hi. I can't chat with you. ok. i'm too angry. You're too angry to chat? Yes wow yeah, wow look, I am not saying any of this right, I know, but i'm going to try again, anyway. You are right. I am a mess. I knew that, as you know, because I said it, and it was more of a warning than anything else, I swear. I really was just trying to head you off at the pass because I did not want this again. And here it is anyway and, I don't know what else to say. Ugh. I mean you are right and I am going to do something about it. What are you going to do? I am not sure yet, and I know that's not good enough, but i'm telling you right now, I am. I am going to get some kind of - help. I don't know. But I am. ok. I don't want to lose you. This is nuts. I can't go on like this. Ok then. You're going to see. Keep me posted. I will. I promise. Please stop chatting me. Ok
hi. hi. I can't chat with you. ok. i'm too angry. You're too angry to chat? Yes wow yeah, wow baby, don't be mad at me. You know how I get sometimes. Look, I am sorry. I really am. You gotta know I love you, right? I do. I love you so much, baby. I can't live without you. I didn't mean to hurt you, you know that, right? Baby? R u there? What u drop your phone or something? yo. Oh shit. You're really mad at me, right? Listen, don't be like that. Dude. Baby. What you fucking asswipe please stop chatting me. Ok
hi. hi. I can't chat with you. ok. i'm too angry. You're too angry to chat? Yes wow yeah, wow god, I am so sorry. Yeah, I bet you are. Sorry you got caught. Fair enough. Yes. Because it was like a slap across the face. Now you know how I felt. Fair again. And not really anyway ok true because your slap was well deserved. What did I ever do to you? Look, I don't want to get into it. I really can't chat with you, i'm too angry. Really. ok. can we chat some other time then or talk on the phone? I don't know maybe ok Please stop chatting me. Ok
***Disclaimer: This poem bears no resemblance in any way to any chat or text exchange between myself and any real person/s at the present time or in the past. That's part of what makes it a poem, I would say.