thankyou thankyou Tracy K. Smith

here’s Tracy K. Smith reading my poem “Trans is against nostalgia” for The Slowdown podcast. Thank you Tracy!

https://www.apmpodcasts.org/slowdown/2019/03/79-trans-is-against-nostalgia/

also, here’s a photo after I read some poems at the Black Poetry Conference at Princeton in February organized by Tracy K. Smith, Jaamil Olawale Kosoko, and Joshua Kotin. thankyou thankyou

I read with Jericho Brown, Camille Dungy, Nikky Finney, Jessica Care Moore, and Ed Roberson (!!!) still filled with gratitude and light from that evening.

princeton reading.PNG

Fallin' Out

for Nabi, Sarah, Jayson, Sean, and Justin who I lived with for one week in New Orleans

What will happen to all that beauty?, James Baldwin asked in the second essay in The Fire Next Time: “A letter from a region in my mind”, when he goes to visit Elijah Muhammed and observes and considers the value of a separate black nation within the united states. I can’t say for sure where all the beauty goes inside that formulation, but I have witnessed black social autonomy, the erotics of the black crowd, what happens when we gather together, what arises from our gathering. Maybe I’m entering this line of thought to ask: what becomes of my own black self when individuation becomes a private nonce taxonomy, when individuation is destroyed and the self is repurposed. (help me out here).  

I want to believe the beauty Baldwin implores to stay around can be transformed into and circulated as a kind of fugitive energy outside of systemic duress. Thus, I’m proposing a theoretical framework to encompass and work toward a malleable container for this kind of energy: afro-entropy (this nomenclature is a reactionary imprecision re: afrofuturism/afropessimism false binary, other possible name: black hole theopolitical kineticism? I don’t know). Afro-entropy describes ways/moments in which public, black social intimacy isn’t assigned value as a capitalist product. Go-go music in DC, and the physical space of a go-go, is an example of this idea. (And I’d like to take some space here to praise the hyphen for the work it does in the word go-go. lil rushed caesura, linger on for only so long). Go-go resists popular consumption because of the form’s kinetic orality, reliance on live performance, and interval improvisation. At the go-go the crowd is an integral member of the band. A tenet of the sonic reality of go-go music is that it collapses the sound, the sound envelopes itself, is destroyed, is re-made as itself. There’s a loss of temporality, of linear time when listening to go-go.

In a similar sense, our gathering together, our living this week on Saint Philip street collasped my sense of self. Sean passes me in the kitchen, places his hand on my back to steady his movement forward, to warn me of his arrival. In that moment, I re-see a memory I thought I’d forgotten: The church I grew up in had no windows, the choir had taken up Hezekiah Walker’s “I need you to survive”. And those in the pews began to weep, and some of us fell out into one of our arms, passing the spirit between each other. I need you, I need you, I let go and need you.

this will change often

Containing Continuity

 

How to talk about wonder about the horn (I’m listening to Christian Scott) without saying horn or trumpet, and resisting abstraction. The furthest I can get is that the sound comes from the corner, is continually, in motion and resisting form, a kind of stasis or staticness. The sound is a hovering. A presence pressure. Sound wraith. Wraith’s whir. The sound is in response and also asks a question, or a few. To say I’ve fallen into failure, or failure had illuminated itself in front of me, is one truth. I am a victim of light, but what else is new. In Finland, I hear John Coltrane say “I’m sorry, they thought I was” and “...without me I was starting without me”. What vacillates between precision and error. I stood up when I heard his voice. Sound isn’t the problem, my problem, it’s the translation that’s tripping me and catching me in a trance, the need to translate one abstraction into another. What am I saying and to whom. Thought moves my hand to gesture, to make letter bodies that sound together which create some kind of assumption by association. It’s true, in a field I can experience the largess of language. One song says spread out, one songs says small up yourself. Is this a poem yet? In a field my thoughts are at home in uncertainty. The wind plays the horn in the corner, the grass is an insistence a snare repeat. See, there’s instruments, names in the way. I want a series of mhmms in the language to hold over ecstaticism. The various portmanteaus of my home could do: wilin (wild and wily, maybe some assertion of will) to mean out of place and beyond. To approximate to horn’s appearance I can say: that joint go— meaning a continuation, a lack of arrival or departure, a way out   through around. That the horn resists audience it just go. Back there I wanted to say portmanteau out of the need to say something about who I am, to position myself in the narrative. Is it helpful for you to know that I’m smoking a joint, reading Heinrich Wolfflin’s “Principles of Art History”? If you’re still with me, are we getting somewhere? What I seek when I seek to talk to you about what the sounds do to me is to convey a kind of dynamism. I was avoiding another task, perhaps writing, when I first heard Christian Scott, then I could only write, and if I wasn’t writing I was pacing the apartment, making lines with my body. If you were here, I’d pass you the j. Something is to be said about where the sounds take me; that I’m in my house pacing is one reality. That the horn sends me to an elsewhere, another. “Darling you Darling you honest you do” Sam Cooke might say “send me”, that’s one line I draw. To be sweet on the sound. An ethereal knowing and meaning making I’m trying to get across. I listened to Christian Scott into the night and tried to become sound. See what I mean? There’s a gap. Perhaps it’s fear. The sound was a kind of devastation across my body such that I was changed and seek out that feeling, continually, such that I need to tell you about it.

“May I be made into the vessel of that which / must be made” Bidart says, and I think of hot metal dissolving into sound, or further back the first human moan that turned a corner into singing, entered another room in the mind.

 

What gender should I be in this sound? I want you to ask you who are still here, when I hear some trap music  was it Migos or Juicy J or Drake something I never heard? and in the corner two women dancing on each other almost identically dressed wining one’s ass up on the other. I don’t want to be either of them, I want to be what’s between them. Impossible desire in ecstatic physicality. Heat made tangible. Yes opening to yes. When my woman puts her ass on me, my feelings are hurt. I’m wrecked. I’m her tool. I’m a tower of light. An ancient loss of control. I want her to have my babies. Impossible desire. What sound is that?