Saturday, August 12, 2006

a love note for

dear sista alexis,

you are a lion woman swril
of rainbow hurricane
a for real teacher subersive
thunderstorm insistent
itch on the belly of this world

i think your name must
mean "she who is a forest
of words and ancestor wisdom"
i think so

i wonder how you snag such
light in hunrgy tendrils i
wonder how you stew
such magic in your womb
i wonder how you speak
the oceans in your poems
i wonder how you bring a globe of
laughter in your eyes
i wonder

i think your name must
mean "she who paints
a new world with her
body" i see your
fingers fidget our minds
and the heart sketched impression
embedded in us all i see brandless
colors you pull from your purse
i see


Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Baba Mumia Abu Jamaal drops science about Black August!!!!!!
Black August Black August has many markers throughout the long history of resistance in the Americas. There are more than we could ever recount here. But here are a few that are important and undeniable events that affected other events and indeed had global impact.It was a hot, humid morning in August 1619, when dark skinned Africans were unloaded from a ship in the English colony of Jamestown in Virginia. They were called indentured servants by the people who purchased their contracts. It is unknown what the Dutch sailors called them. Some thirty years later, they would be called something that millions of other Africans would be called on American shores for the next two hundred years, Slaves. They were in fact captives. Chained, stolen captives of a vicious race war against black life by the merchant princes of Europe. For those people who call themselves African Americans their unique history begins here.Another notable date in the struggle for liberty in the Americas happened on another shore among people who spoke no English and perhaps no European languages at all. Their freedom struggle, however, would change the course of world history. And before it ended transformed the face of at least two empires. I speak of the valiant people of Haiti, at the time called Saint-Domingue. In the northern reaches of that Caribbean island, in August 1791, Africans mostly from the Congo held religious services in the dark of the night. They prayed to their ancient gods of African memory and vowed to fight against every slave owner and overseer in the land. They vowed to not stop until free or dead. It was a sweaty time when the slaves rebelled against their tormentors. It would be thirteen long years, but by January 1804 a new and independent nation was born. Free of the monstrous transatlantic slave trade. The Haitian revolution, the first truly successful slave revolution in history has succeeded. The destruction of the French army by the black and mullato armies of Toussaint L'Ouverturemeant far more than a military or even a political victory. It meant the end of French dreams of an American empire and the loss of the richest colony in the world. It meant Napoleon could not hold the vast mid-American territories called Louisiana. The revolution therefore weakened French holds on the Americas and allowed the United States to purchase a prize that would double the new nations size overnight. All of this began in the dead of night in August 1791 when slaves planned a revolution.On August 21, 1831 the explosive rebellion of Nat Turner turned southern society inside out. Although he has been labeled by traditional, that is white, historians as a madman, Turner was in fact a deeply religious man who was moved by signs and (???) that he saw in the summer sky compelling him to fight for the freedom of his captive people. Only in a slaveocracy would the idea of freedom fighting and resistance seem mad. Some thirty years after Nat Turner's rebellion, the civil war would deal a death blow to American bondage.If there is a fasis of American history that does not go beyond the books in records of yesteryear, it has been the various Seminole American wars that were waged across Florida. There were at least three Seminole US wars and one of them ended on August 14, 1842. Though some will ask, what does an Indian American war have to do with Black August? Well that's because the nature of the Seminoles and the real reasons behind their raging wars with the Americans is hidden beneath the mists of history. The very name Seminole derives from the American Spanish term for escapee, refugee or runaway. It stems from the term Semeron (???), which was used by the Spanish to denote Indian or African runaways from slavery. The English in Jamaica and (???) islands called their runaways maroons from the same root word. The Seminoles The Creek Confederacy, but unlike many of their contemporaries they forge close and lasting relationships with runaway Africans and habitually refuse British and American demands for the return of slaves to white service. The American general who fought in the Seminole wars, Thomas Jessup, put the question squarely when he declared, this, you may be assured, is a Negro not an Indian war. General Jessup wrote those words because of the hundreds of black warriors fighting on the side of the Seminoles and because the Seminoles refused to sell men, women and children who had become their kinfolk. It is noteworthy that of all the Indian wars fought against the Americans the Seminole wars cost the most American casualties.August 30, 1856. When the name of John Brown is evoked the shadow of Harpers Ferry arises in the mind. Of the small group of rebels who tried, unsuccessfully, to seize an American armory and fullment rebellion among the slaves. But years before Harpers Ferry, John Brown had waged war against pro-slavery forces in Osawatomie, Kansas, after Missourians had sacked the town of Lawrence, Kansas some three months earlier. The fighting in Kansas led to excited reports about bleeding Kansas. What they were were tough, nasty border wars between anti and pro-slavery forces. Each trying to dominate the other. Indeed, Brown was called Osawatomie Brown before Harpers Ferry marked him as a martyr for the sacred cause of freedom.August 11-16, 1965. The fires of Watts, a black community in Los Angeles, CA were markers for rebellion for the generation of blacks in the 1960s. These rebellions, staged in response to brutal police attacks on people, cost the lives of 34 people and also almost 20 million dollars worth of property damaged or destroyed.August 5, 1970. The Black Panther party's minister of defense, Huey P. Newton, spent some four years in prison before winning his release on $50,000 bail on this date. It marked his physical return to the party at the time a period of great hope.August 8, 1978. One of the earlier MOVE confrontations. Some nine MOVE men and women were sent to prison for hundred of years stemming from a deeply flawed trial. MOVE members continue to fight for the release of their imprisoned comrades. MOVE veterans of the August 8 police assault have been in prison for 25 years in dungeons throughout Pennsylvania. They remain rebellious spirits who oppose a repressive status quo. The spirit of Black August moves through centuries of Black, Indian and ulti-cultural resistance. It is an emblem of the spirit of freedom. It is a long smoldering spark of the fire in the hearts of a people, hearts burning and yearning for Mumia Abu Jamaal

Monday, August 07, 2006

congratulations haiku (for one serious brotha)

your poetry, light
sweeping away heart matter
renewing senses

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Poem selected for publication by the Museum of African Diaspora

Greetings beautiful bringers of love and light,

Here is an update on my literary life...

My poem Funeral Dirge, which was originally published by Black Arts Quarterly was just accepted by the I've Known Rivers Project at the Museum of African Diaspora. I have included it below!The poem will be available to view at: by the end of the month. Thank you for your wonderful encouragement as I continue to make and share poems.


oh, I will add this poem to my blog as well, both of

funeral dirge
(for new orleans)

theory one:
you boiled over and belched out
your gumbo children like a calabash
that knows not its tipping point saturated
ecosphere skin and spice isthmus pumped
dry walled off and craving the sanctity
of your irrigated origin

your mothers steep
in plutonic filings olive oil
henna themselves speechless
burn myrrh on
watery altars

in this case
even tears are a blasphemous
azurite deity cantos
chanted backward

these crescent mamas
once babies of pretty
haired octoroons
float up desiccated
intonations of absolute waterlessness

bone bare barren dust

theory two:
who raids your citys eurhythmy

ripples your throat
inundates the praline encrusted mouth

was it the insatiable thirst
of a swamp demon
prowling to feed her babies
on your tabasco and bourbon
marinated pulp

or the sins stewing in your bacchanal bayous
that rattle loose the heavens and leave you
a bleak and vegetation void canvas
theory three:
atone atone atone
the day soon arrives
when flashlights and fresh
jugged water are useless clutch
tight your faith
sincerely kiss your mamas tobacco lips
pumice the scales from your eyes
and view the foreshadowed destruction
martyrs have a different face now
Resistance is Fertile...Celebrate Black August

Black August originated in the concentration camps of California to honor fallen Freedom Fighters, Jonathan Jackson, George Jackson, William Christmas, James McClain and Khatari Gaulden. Jonathan Jackson was gunned down outside the Marin County California courthouse on August 7, 1970 as he attempted to liberate three imprisoned Black Liberation Fighters: James McClain, William Christmas and Ruchell Magee. Ruchell Magee is the sole survivor of that armed rebellion. He is the former co-defendant of Angela Davis and has been locked down for 40 years, most of it in solitary confinement. George Jackson was assassinated by prison guards during a Black prison rebellion at San Quentin on August 21, 1971. Three prison guards were also killed during that rebellion and prison officials charged six Black and Latino prisoners with the death of those guards. These six brothers became known as the San Quentin Six.
To honor these fallen soldiers the brothers who participated in the collective founding of Black August wore black armbands on their left arm and studied revolutionary works, focusing on the works of George Jackson. In the month of August the brothers did not listen to the radio or watch television. Additionally, they didn't eat or drink anything from sun-up to sundown; and loud and boastful behavior was not allowed. The brothers did not support the prison's canteen. The use of drugs and alcoholic beverages was prohibited and the brothers held daily exercises because during Black August emphasis is placed on sacrifice, fortitude and discipline. Black August is a time to embrace the principles of unity, self-sacrifice, political education, physical training and resistance.
The tradition of fasting during Black August teaches self-discipline. A conscious fast is in effect FROM SUNRISE TO SUNSET (or suggested from 6:00 am to 8:00 pm), this includes refraining from drinking water or liquids and eating food of any kind during that period. Some other personal sacrifice can be made as well. The sundown meal is traditionally shared whenever possible among comrades. On August 31, a People's Feast is held and the fast is broken. Black August fasting should serve as a constant reminder of the conditions our people have faced and still confront. Fasting is uncomfortable at times, but it is helpful to remember all those who have come and gone before us, Ni Nkan Mase, if we stand tall, it is because we stand on the shoulders of many ancestors.
Black August is a time to STUDY AND PRACTICE EDUCATION AND OUTREACH ABOUT OUR HISTORY AND THE CURRENT CONDITIONS OF OUR PEOPLE. In the late 1970’s Black August was moved from the yards of California’s concentration camps to New Afrikan communities throughout California and the united states empire. As the Black August practice and tradition spread, it grew to observe not only the sacrifices of the brothers in California’s concentration camps, but the sacrifices and struggles of our ancestors against white supremacy, colonialism, and imperialism.
In the late 1970's the observance and practice of Black August left the prisons of California and began being practiced by Black/New Afrikan revolutionaries throughout the country. Members of the New Afrikan Independence Movement (NAIM) began practicing and spreading Black August during this period. The Malcolm X Grassroots Movement (MXGM) inherited knowledge and practice of Black August from its parent organization, the New Afrikan People's Organization (NAPO). MXGM through the Black August Hip Hop Project began introducing the Hip-Hop community to Black August in the late 1990's after being inspired by New Afrikan political exile Nehanda Abiodun.
A sampling of this month of “righteous rebellion” and “racist repression” includes: The first Afrikans were brought to Jamestown as slaves in August of 1619. In 1843, Henry Highland Garnett called a general slave strike on August 22. The Underground Railroad was started on August 2, 1850. The March on Washington occurred in August of 1963, Gabriel Prosser's slave rebellion occurred on August 30th, 1800. The “Prophet” Nat Turner planned and executed a slave rebellion that commenced on August 21, 1831. The Watts rebellions were in August of 1965. On August 18, 1971 the Provisional Government of the Republic of New Afrika (RNA) was raided by Mississippi police and FBI agents. The MOVE family was bombed by Philadelphia police on August 8, 1978. Further, August is a time of birth. Dr. Mutulu Shakur (New Afrikan prisoner of war), Pan-Africanist Leader Marcus Garvey, Maroon Russell Shoatz (political prisoner) and Chicago Black Panther Party Chairman Fred Hampton were born in August. August is also a time of transition and rebirth. The great scholar and educator W.E.B. Dubois died in Ghana on August 27, 1963. So, August is a month during which New Afrikans can reflect on our current situation and our struggle for self-determination and freedom.
The Struggle Continues!
“Recognizing that the Roots of Black August are founded in the Black August Organizing Committee (BAOC), we, the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement (MXGM), are respectfully including this organization in the trademark of *Black August in solidarity with the history and actions that come from this movement.”
Related Information:MXGM Solidarity Statement Black August Organizing Committee (BAOC

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Every three minutes
Every five minutes
Every ten minutes
Every day or (collaged voices remix a world)
And (our fire breath is a mantra for the new day)

By: Them funky fresh and oh so fly….AR Sistas

Every day unconditional love
Three days ago mommy’s chicken soup
Every three min surprised by how the same love stays new
Every day ginger lemonade
30 yrs ago a black love like blow(ed) out afro
Today an altar with excess hope

30 yrs ago polyester pants afro puff standing up
On my cousins big wheel
Throwing mail getting spankings…good times
Today faith in my mother
2 wks ago mama’s first poem in 20 yrs
Later in the day I write because of you

Immediately there is cause for celebration
Every day ushering a girl child into wombynhood
Today my baby brother is 16
michaiah swallowed the pool
and survived bloated and beautiful

today free books
UNC embraced UBUNTU
every ten min Jurina comes home
every three min a ten minute orgasm

every five min laughter from the belly
every ten min a foot massage
every day a song to dance to
a poem to walk to

every five min an innocent giggle
every day free fresh fruit
every ten min falling in love
every five min I speak/ I listen
I shimmy

Every ten min we smile accidentally
Every three min Rachel sings
Every day we sing a song by michell
Every five min clean water for all
Everyday someone gives away a gift
that’s special to them
Talya speaks
Every ten min grandma whispers a secret

Every three min I grow hummingbird wings
Every ten min a phoenix rises
I share my heart
Every five min I hear my god children’s voices
A flirty laugh on the back of the neck

Every three min I retrieve my ancestors memory
A woman safe
Every ten min a woman screams with joy and hugs another woman
Every day a scalp massage from someone who loves you

Every day chamomile and deep breath
Every five min a walk in the rain
I get to cheer someone up
Every day lavender frankincense myrrh (I want that)
Bath salt

every three min brilliant blue stars and unhinged eyes
every ten min jurina’s special cream cheese
and spinach omelets
every three min just because I am
every day rock my baby to sleep

thirty yrs ago somebody had a great dream
Woken up by laughter
And it was me
thirty yrs ago I was swinging in trees
three days ago roller skating with my kids

every three min breathing with myself
every five minutes I would learn a lesson once and not
have to learn it again
whispered truths remind me of me

every day a warm place to lay my head
a home filled with love
a good heart
I get wiser

every five min I get wiser
a poem- traveling this way vintage
(for k. arrington)

jazzy soulful
hot vocals
i would buy it

like warm licorice
and clean pores

what i mean you be bringing
pure unadulterated dope
like right off the jet
from colombia

rock rock gurl
to the beat gurl
you supa sweet gurl

and you don't stop

Calendar of Events

  • June 1- Official Launch of Betty's Daughter Arts Collaborative
  • May 10, 7 pm, Gumbo YaYa @ Roses and Bread Women's Poetry Reading, Performance/Body Insallation, Brecht Forum NYC
  • May 10, all day, Experimental Theatre Final Performances NYU
  • May 7-8, all day, Gumbo YaYa, MA Symposium NYU
  • April 23, 6 pm Gumbo YaYa, -ism Gala NYU
  • March 26, 7 pm, Gumbo Yaya/ or this is why we speak in tongues, Tisch School of the Arts, Forum Series
  • Feb. 7, Brecht Forum, 730, moderating NO! film screening
  • Jan. 4, Common Ground Theatre, 8 pm, performance art night---Holding Space (a love poem for Meghan Williams)
  • Dec. 12, Ripple in Brooklyn, 8 pm, sharing poetic vibes for a jazz/blues show
  • Oct 27, Duke University, 9:45 am, Women Engage Hip-Hop Panel
  • Sept 14, PS @ Tisch, How Much Can the Body Hold
  • Sept 19, Righetous AIM, NC A & T
  • August 31-Sept 2, 75TH Highlander Anniversary
  • Anti-prison Industrial complex performance, Durham, NC
  • April 30 Shout Out, Carrboro, NC
  • April 24 Fingernails Across Chalkboard Reading, Washington, DC
  • April 14 Poetry Month Reading, Durham, NC
  • 3/31 Ringing Ear Reading, Chapel Hill, NC
  • Wednesday 3/21 - 7 pm Miller Morgan Auditorium, Performative Healing and the Work of Ntozake Shange, Lecture