Thursday, April 15, 2010
Thursday, April 8, 2010
I’ve gotten quite a few responses from poets on the call for poetry. I thank you for sharing your work, it is really moving to be trusted enough to see your work. I know it is difficult to share work in progress.
I’ve been writing a lot of poems about Oakland lately, since I’ve recently relocated to this vibrant and sassy city. I’ve also been participating in a lot of community neighborhood planning meetings. I have mixed feelings about a lot of the topics that are covered which can range from not so important (NIMBY or not in my backyard!!) to very large crime issues. One thing I’d like to do is get involved in a youth outreach project in the area as there is a lot of opportunity. I believe in the kids.
At one of these meetings it became evident that the residents of a particular block had reached the limit with some gang activity. There has been a number of high speed accidents where people were accidentally killed by gang members fleeing the area. This poem is a work in progress.
Beat 6X Ingrid Keir
I went to the first neighborhood meeting
since I’ve moved to Oakland.
I walked into All Souls church,
sat in the mahogany Baptist pews.
I went to listen, to meet the neighbors.
To meet the folks in my area,
Beat 6X. There was a well manicured lady
from the Census Bureau
talking about jobs for the unemployed.
She handed out pamphlets
emphasized the 2010 Census
is not something to be afraid of.
a middle aged woman
giving an update on crime.
It became clear she was a lawyer
representing the neighbors
She circulated photos
12 photos of young men and women.
They looked like ghosts.
Staring into the camera with hardened faces,
brows of steel.
Yet most of them looked like teens
underneath their anger. Babies.
She tells the audience
“these are members of Ghosttown.”
The notorious gang
who hang out on the corner
of Apgar and 38th
West and 34th
“if anyone in the audience can identify these individuals
we can step outside to discuss it in private.”
A few people headed for the door,
waiting to speak with the lawyer.
as the photos
were passed around like a deck of trading cards.
And yet, the tension in the room was thick like mud.
It is clear the residents have had reached the limit with
crime and drugs. The lawyer went on to say
the neighbors of 34th and West
filed a civil lawsuit
against an inattentive landlord
who let the drug dealers deal
in his property. I was startled to see 8 cops
sitting in the church pews,
to the community.
Cops, who have always scared me
with their shiny badges and fat guns.
The sirens and reckless driving.
One got up front
to address the community
to say that no one sees them as people.
The strangest thing happened
a big grin, spread across his face.
All of the young officers stood up
to introduce themselves.
Most of them looked 21 years old,
they said the days they work
gave out their email addresses.
They seemed human. I just moved to Oakland
it is so different
than the streets of San Francisco,
where the bums and the crackheads
don’t form different types gangs.
They hang out with the poets and musicians
on the corner of 16th and Mission. I left the meeting
haunted by those photographs
how they were passed around
the youth of Oakland
Tuesday, April 6, 2010
National Poetry Month has arrived like a racehorse banging through the gates at the Kentucky Derby! This month, I challenge you to write a poem-a-day. Say goodbye to the winter blah blahs and get to it! No more excuses (that’s me talking to myself) short, long, prose, form or formless, start those pens (or typewriters & computers) and GO. Feel free to email me your poems, and I will post some of my favorite poems and other poetry challenges throughout the month.
To start, here is a fantastic poem from Kim Addonizio. It is taken from her new collection, Lucifer at the Starlite, which came out last year from Norton. This poem takes the lines of quite a few famous poems and rewrites them into a new poem. Can you pick out the lines that have rewritten?
Let me know your rants and raves: firstname.lastname@example.org
The First Line is the Deepest
By Kim Addonizio
I have been one acquainted with the spatula,
the slotted, scuffed, Teflon-coated spatula
that lifts a solitary hamburger from pan to plate,
acquainted with the vibrator known as the Pocket Rocket
and the dildo that goes by Tex,
and I have gone out, a drunken bitch,
in order to ruin
what love I was given,
and also I have measured out
my life in little pills—Zoloft,
I have. For I am a poet. And it is my job, my duty
to know wherein lies the beauty
of this degraded body,
it's the degradation in the beautiful body,
the ugly me
groping back to my desk to piss
on perfection, to lay my kiss
of mortal confusion
upon the mouth of infinite wisdom.
My kiss says razors and pain, my kiss says
America is charged with the madness
of God. Sundays, too,
the soldiers get up early, and put on their fatigues in the blue-
black day. Black milk. Black gold. Texas tea.
Into the valley of Halliburton rides the infantry—
Why does one month have to be the cruelest,
can't they all be equally cruel? I have seen the best
gamers of your generation, joysticking their M1 tanks through
the sewage-filled streets. Whose
world this is I think I know.