When Maze and Frankie Beverly Come on in my House Mama’s eyes close, she raises the spatula as if she were going to orchestrate the gumbo into existence. Turns the knob so that we feel the bass thundering in the walls. At the start of verse one, she points to Pops, walks over, shoulders oscillating back-and-forth between the melody. Pops does the same dance he's been doing since '73— left knee, right knee, pop, snap left knee, right knee, pop, snap on every other beat. The sort of dance that has a different iteration every decade but really it’s always been the same. At the start of verse two, Pops drops his shoulder, bites his bottom lip, & does some sort of spin move pivoting on his left foot. When he does this it's unclear if he's hurt his back or if he's doing an unauthorized version of the sprinkler. Mama goes with it, ‘cuz she's fly like that, & has never left dad hanging on the dance floor. At the start of verse three, something is burning in the kitchen. Their hands are clasped now, fingers interlocked, swinging each other back & forth. Their feet are now music of their own, the interplay between hollow wooden floors & electric guitar. It's like they made the song just for them. A reminder of the playful manifestations of love, how the harmony of guitar & trumpet & bass & sweat & Frankie's voice can create the sort of levity that ensures love lasts long after the song has stopped. Letter From Barack Obama to Karl Marx Circa 2011 Come on, don't give me that look, Karl. I know you're disappointed. But to be fair you've made things pretty tough out here. Sure, I read the Communist Manifesto in college, but didn't we all? They hurl your name at me at every rally, every speech. Say I'm trying to take away their religion their money their freedom. Right? I laughed at that last one too. Like they know the first thing about what is means to have your liberation thwarted, your agency made obsolete. They always say you never really know until you're sitting in the chair yourself. The dialectical opposition of the Oval Office an ever-present reality to me. But what do you expect?! I can't hang your picture on the wall or place a bust of your visage on the desk. Who would you replace? Dr. King? I don't like that this is the space I occupy, that there is no room here for counter-hegemonic conceit. Everything just keeps on turning, Karl no matter whose hands are on the wheel. Ode to 9th & O NW – Washington D.C. You hundred-year-old bastion of merriment You crumbling icon You hollow walls & sacrosanct floors You kitchen where rice was burned & whiskey spilled You wondrous accident You ephemeral cacophony You crumbled piece of adulthood You first taste of adulthood You made laughter omnipresent Wrapped seven of us within your walls, locked the door & swallowed the key You roommate shuffleboard You millennial experiment You eye of the gentrified storm You still tryna be Duke Ellington in a world full of yoga studios Three years in your grasp & we watched them turn the Boys & Girls Club into happy hour It's something about how you sit on the corner, at the intersection of where I learned to tell someone they made me feel like everything & nothing all at once How you made growing up existential How one can be lulled into nostalgia by the clamor of an audacious love.
May 14, 2015