freedom terrors

“The Plurality of Abolitionism,” Groundings Podcast, Joy James: “what’s the plan? how long is the dreaming going to last? … i don’t trust dreams that don’t allow the possibility of nightmares.” 

“Alain and Esthetics” from Writings of Dissent (1941-1945), ed. By Daniel Maximin, translated by Keith L. Walker, Suzanne Césaire: “What is the role of poetry? Like music, it helps us to move beyond ourselves, and it goes yet further. It leads us into ‘a new time,’ into a new world. The true and real poem, which shows us the human in terror, in terror, and in horror even, …” 

Sylvia Rivera She was More than Stonewall Documentary, Life Documentary of Mother Sylvia Rivera, CT Trans History and Archives (Youtube), Sylvia Rivera: “They [incarcerated queer and trans people] write to S.T.A.R. because we’re trying to do something for them. … But, do you [cis gay and lesbian “activists” at the 1973 Christopher Street Liberation March, before the question became pride, before march became parade] try to do anything for them? no, you all tell me go and hide my tail between my legs. I will not prolong or put up with this shit. … I tell these stories of my life because I know that my children and, in the later years, my transgender community will understand—we have to stand up for ourselves—we saved their lives—we were the frontlines of the so-called 1969 rebellion of the Stonewall. I don’t know how long I’m going to be around, but I want it to be told the way I feel it.”

“An Open Letter from Original Black Panther Party Members to Black (Hip-Hop) Artists Who Have an Interest in Our Community” originally posted to imixwhatilike.org and quoted in “Revolution is Illegal: Revisiting the Panther 21 at 50,” Spectre Journal, by Orisanmi Burton, Original Black Panther Party Members: “much of our history in people’s struggle has been kept away from you and seemingly unavailable to your generation as you reinvent what was done in the past.” 

“The BPP and the Case of the New York 21,” Annette T. Rubinstein & Robert Rhodes, Lili Solomon, Janet Townsend, report reads: “By 1 a.m. that same day—Wednesday, April 1, 1969—an obliging jury had indicted the 12 who had been arrested, and 7 more named by the D.A. on a 12-count indictment for conspiring to murder New York City policemen and to dynamite five mid-town department stores, a police precinct, six railroad rights-of-way, and the New York Botanical Gardens (or as—The Black Panther newspaper—put it, ‘6,000 tulip bulbs’).” 

“Revolution is Illegal: Revisiting the Panther 21 at 50,” Spectre Journal, Orisanmi Burton: “Amidst raucous cheers from the audience, the jury foreman uttered ‘not guilty’ 156 times.” 

“3. We Are All Lindeners (For Bauxite Workers and Their Families),” originally titled “The Violence of the State Demands that we Stand Up and Answer the Question: How Will We Organize to Live,” from “Four Letters in Defense of Workers & Families” in The Point is to Change the World, ed. By Alissa Trotz, Andaiye, Jocelyn Bacchus, Karen de Souza, Joy Marcus, Alissa Trotz: “How will we organize to live?”

by tending to the seeds sewn                    amongst the 6,000 tulips
covered                                                          beneath layers of conspiracy 
what the emperor’s magistrates of          fascist’s troops of           
                                                           
                                                           master’s overseers of the grounds 

dreamed they’d bury in the tombs           

pen them into sentences / no legalese / no alternative grammar 
                                                                            / could free them from

                                                                         the threat of panthers in the garden 
wz never about bombs, bt the threat of life liberated from the planter’s estate// 
the persistence & proliferation of  serpents to keep out those 
                                    who might nurture the dormant seeds in the clearing

a genius & his collaborator snuck into this raided sanctuary in the clearing
propped up a pulpit        dug a moat in     
call it the undercommons           peddle snake oil from this perch

they promise flight , dreams of salvation to come                             
                                            w/o nightmares w/o the rupture of night terror’s 
so long as u pledge yourself to refusal               they call it living other/wise,
the response is non/sense,              lack there of
they ask u to emulate the flight path of an ostrich, 

bury ur head in the shifting sands, or live forever on the run;
                                                                  the gospel according to fugitive planning
sans&                             if it were the gospel according to Black study then
y rename the railroad? y re-route history? the song goes

ain’t gon’ let nobody turn me ‘round, marchin’ on to freedom land       how 
did freedom become synonym of eternal fugitive?              
wht do you think u’re doing anyway? 

do u try to do anything? other/wise non/sense
                                 have u ever opened up your g(r)a(n)ted commons to 

the exiles that tended this garden under siege before you sought this refuge

            all this terror, all this terror, horror before, a new time 

in wait                                         underground the seeds still dormant 
                                         the tortured hands that 1st sewed them toiling still
                                                        the breath of life to come after

Related Poems

I Do Not Know the Spelling of Money

I go to the railroad tracks
And follow them to the station of my enemies

A cobalt-toothed man pitches pennies
at my mugshot negative

All over the united states, there are
Toddlers in the rock

I see why everyone out here
got in the big cosmic basket
And why blood agreements mean a lot
And why I get shot back at

I understand the psycho-spiritual refusal
to write white history or take the glass freeway

White skin tattooed on my right forearm
Ricochet sewage near where I collapsed
into a rat-infested manhood

My new existence as living graffiti

In the kitchen with
a lot of gun cylinders to hack up
House of God in part
No cops in part

My body brings down the Christmas

The new bullets pray over blankets made from old bullets

Pray over the 28th hour’s next beauty mark

Extrajudicial confederate statue restoration
the waist band before the next protest poster

By the way,
Time is not an illusion, your honor
I will save your desk for last
You are witty, your honor
You’re moving money again, your honor

It is only raining one thing: non-white cops

And prison guard shadows
Reminding me of
Spoiled milk floating on an oil spill

A neighborhood making a lot of fuss over its demise

A new lake for a Black Panther Party

Malcom X’s ballroom jacket slung over my son’s shoulders
The figment of village
a noon noose to a new white preacher
             -All in an abstract painting of a president

Bought slavers some time, didn’t it?
The tantric screeches of military bolts and Election-Tuesday cars

A cold-blooded study in leg irons

Proof that some white people have actually fondled nooses
             That sundown couples
             made their vows of love over
                        opaque peach plastic
                        and bolt action audiences      

Man, the Medgar Evers-second is definitely my favorite law of science

Fondled news clippings and primitive Methodists

My arm changes imperialisms
Simple policing vs. Structural frenzies
Elementary school script vs. Even whiter white spectrums

Artless bleeding and
the challenge of watching civilians think

“terrible rituals they have around the corner.
They let their elders beg for public mercy”

“I am going to go ahead and sharpen these kids’ heads
into arrows myself and see
how much gravy spills out of family crests.”

Modern fans of war
              What with their t-shirt poems
              And t-shirt guilt

And me, having on the cheapest pair of shoes on the bus,
I have no choice but to read the city walls for signs of my life

Single Lines Looking Forward. or One Monostich Past 45

The joke is orange. which has never been funny.

For awhile I didn’t sleep on my bright side.

Many airplanes make it through sky.

The joke is present. dented and devil.

For awhile, yellow spots on the wall.

Obama on water skis, the hair in his armpits, free.

I thought the CIA was operative.

Across the alley, a woman named Mildred.

Above the clouds in a plane, a waistline of sliced white.

I don’t sound like TED Talk, or smart prose on Facebook.

These clouds are not God.

I keep thinking about Coltrane; how little he talked.

This is so little; I give so little.

Sometimes when I say something to white people, they say “I’m sorry?”

During Vietnam, Bob Kaufman stopped talking.

The CIA was very good at killing Panthers.

Mildred in a housecoat, calling across the fence, over her yard.

If I were grading this, I’d be muttering curses.

The joke is a color. a color for prison.

Is it me, or is the sentence, as structure, arrogant?

All snow, in here, this writing, departure.

All miles are valuable. all extension. all stretch.

I savor the air with both fingers, and tongue.

Mildred asks about the beats coming from my car.

I forgot to bring the poem comparing you to a garden.

Someone tell me what to say to my senators.

No one smokes here; in the rain, I duck away and smell piss.

I thought the CIA was. the constitution.

I feel like he left us, for water skis, for kitesurfing.

The sun will not always be so gracious.

From the garden poem, one line stands out.

Frank Ocean’s “Nights” is a study in the monostich.

Pace is not breathing, on and off. off.

Mildred never heard of Jneiro Jarel.

I’m afraid one day I’ll find myself remembering this air.

The last time I saw my mother, she begged for fried chicken.

My father still sitting there upright, a little high. 

Melissa McCarthy could get it.

Sometimes, I forget how to touch.

In a parking garage, I wait for the toothache.

I watch what I say all the time now.

She said she loved my touch, she used the word love.

In 1984, I’d never been in the sky.

My mother walked a laundry cart a mile a day for groceries.

Betsy DeVos is confirmed. with a broken tie.

Mildred’s five goes way up, and my five reaches.

revision, impromptu

 
with David Rothenberg, Nicola Hein, George Lewis, Dafna Naphtali, Andrew Drury, Tanya Kalmanovich, Hans Tammen, Sarah Weaver, David Grubbs, and Ally-Jane Grossan

Logistics sounds like a work song. The bottom anticipates and tills and then it’s time to turn over. This limbned, uncoordinated independence is anagnostic. Flesh touches. I am because we are is some bullshit. I ain’t because we share air lore, more notes on Auto da Fé’s blacking of the presence of an absence. The abyss between frames, that dehiscence, indicates this refusal either to fuse or choose between tearing and binding, a careful preservation of wounding. The whole fade in a shuffle it projects and prepares, a soufflé of angles, a palimpsest of snares and rides, some continually hidden h, a heft of air, a thievish shift carnival, a tufted shear, a shhhh of whirr and bookfan. We wear a fan of books, page over other kissing inside lip to disappear into another outside in coming into view. We all come from nothing to hard tone row and that cool move, chafing against the new phasis of the history of displacement, sound like it got a three on it to me. Blackness is the revelation of that which makes a people uncertain, unclear and awry in its action and knowledge. I think I been thinking ‘bout that for ‘bout thirty years, Krupa become Krupskaya having lost their aura, but when I get a chance I ask Scott La Rock why I start to think and then I sink into the paper like I was ink, like I was a Chinese painter in the hold of the beholding. The zero degree is what he says; she says nothing in reply, a festival, irreparable. The age of quantum mechanical reproduction is giving tune away to rise. Collaborate elaboration, William. Infinite consanguinity, Dumbo. Fleeta Drum came with us, brought something with him, brought a swing with her to fold the document. Can improvisation be documented? Has it ever been? Lemme ask Scott when I see him—see if improvisation can be revised. Scott, can improvisation be revised? That’s an arctic jazz question, regarding whales and, further inland, elephants, and saxophone kids, non-expert users, autodidactic squirrels in task decomposition. Is there an analogy between improvisation and optimization, affirmation and ingardenation on improvisational gardening? What’s the Greek word for “reading”? Which is the point of all this rub and cyclone, when the eye falls into plenitude in a series of caressive abuse and kisses, oikopolitics and storms, good and bad time weather in a tore up propagation of clicks, which is when I realized you’d prepared the back of our throat for a speech about the tragic ship, the interminable line to it and the endless line from it, woodskin, wind’s skin, wound and drumbone, bowed, time to stay, string, till poise come back for poise, for our unsupported method and post-sculptural stuttering and non-purposive black massive hymn and sold, celebratory subcanadian scotchplain, plummets of bird patterning, the scotchirish hazarding of north ideas, habitually prenational birds, field recordings of syncrudescent birds flew down to tailing in the good and bad time weather, bird in the collective head of mama’nem at the blues university, Clyde’n’mama’nem and her and ask and think a digital conference of the birds, viola, ‘cause music is the fruit of love and earth and nobody gon’ buy it anyway, for there is nothing lost, that may be found in these findings, by these foundlings, driving ‘round vising and revisiting in the inescapable history of not being you. Our name is unnameable in this regard and miles ahead, feeling what you can’t see all incompletely. The half-fullness of your glasses makes you wanna make the word go away but you do have a capacity for massage that gives me hope. In the delicate evening software, I can understand Russell Westbrook. It’s ulmeric, oliveirian, in its unfirewalled all over the placelessness. We gig everywhere and it just makes me wanna giggle, or holler at you from way over here, party over there, if you can wait, we being behind the beat a little bit but right at the beguining, gynomonastically basic and maternal earth tones all out from the tone world, deep in the bass loom, twilight weaving morning in La Jolla/moonlight in Vermont someplace, some folks parking, some just getting dressed, everybody waiting with everybody for right now in right there, party over here. Well moled, old Grubbs! We all here in the ruins but we got something in our hands—an experimental bandcamp for news and flowers. And I appreciate y’all letting me sit in, being so far from virtuosity. I wanna be communicable from way back. I wanna be in your base community, grace abounding to the chief of sinners. Remember that song by the Spinners called “Sadie”? The one on Spinners Live! where he reverted—that contrapulsive, not just knee-deep conversioning he got caught up in? Soul Wynne was sewing that night. It was like he had a drum in his chest, just to let you know that nothing lasts forever. The improvisation of forgetting is redactive flow everyday with all these voices in our head. These are always revising herself. One said they told us to be Germanic so, with great surprise, we took a picture of your tech with yourself, our constraint, and it was undecidable between us but plantational, since we the police of different voices, to be your instrument in this sovereign fade. Go back and look at it again when we fade a little bit, when invention won’t let us come up on it from behind. I don’t know my own stuff well enough to mix it right now, but we been remixing it all along past the everyday fade. Mama’nem are the different voices in your head. Are you gon’ play me now? I wan be played with you. I wanna be down with you. My code voice is Stanley Clarke, rajautomatic mixive for the people’s quartet, no way to control it, can’t caul it, won’t be covered, some uncoverable cuvée, girl, some prekripkean cupcake, causally unnameable as that Krupa keep coming back, tense but casually anafrican. Scott says the Greek word for reading is writing. It could be, I don’t know. I’m undecidable between us but you can ring my bell. The night is young and full of possibilities, the only trace of which, when I go back, is how I sound for you from one diffusion to another, as if the room were our hijab, as if we were a roomful of people writing about Cecil Taylor, as if writing about Cecil were reading James Cone, as if I were Sharon Cone’s escort to Cecil’s going home, as if we were the temporary contemporary—air above mountains, buildings in our hands.