Seeds I planted:

 

First gathering with the Frederick Douglass Youth Ensemble, a project of Angela Wellman and the Oakland Public Conservatory of Music. In addition to music making time, the middle school students learned today about Amiri Baraka, Father of the Black Arts Movement. They can also identify 5 major black leaders: Frederick Douglass, Marcus Garvey, W.E.B. Du Bois, Martin Luther King Jr. & Malcolm X. They will be performing first at the Malcolm X Jazz & Arts Festival the late morning on Saturday May 19Francis Wong Eddie Wong Steve Greg Morozumi

Image may contain: 6 people, including Jon Jang, people smiling, people standing

Aretha Franklin, 1942-2018

aretha
Aretha Franklin, 1942-2018

“If Ever I Would Leave You–”
Her promise, implied, to never
Leave this jagged hole in my
Soul was just shredded—
Gooseflesh from her growls,
swoops, screams, leaps is
Left; but her voice belongs to the
Universe for other planets to marvel at

I don’t wanna “Say
Her Name” today, not now…
Don’t wanna hear headlines—
See scribblers, talking heads who‘
Feel your pain,’ yet tear flesh from
Black bones most weekdays

It’s not business, it’s personal—
Like losing some soundtrack
When Bro. Ray checked out—or
My two week depression when
Sass stepped off stage; But,
If, There’s A Place For us
Outside plantations,
beyond bullwhips’ call
and response
If, There’s A Place For us
above gun towers
and concertina wire, our
Ma Raineys, Bessie Smiths,
Lady Days, Ninas and
Arethas
Take us there…

So, I tip my cap and
Sing praise not to
Monarchy propped
up on a throne—on
dried blood, skulls and bone;
a rusty “Chain of Fools…”

I tip my cap and
Sing praise—Panther-style—
to my Minister of Medicine,
Servant of The People,
darling “Dr. Feelgood—”
practicing Universal Healthcare
from a Spiritual Free Clinic
In her throat

I tip my cap and
Sing praise—Grammys,
medals, honorary degrees,
halls of fame, streets bearing the
name “Aretha Franklin Way”
speak for themselves.

I tip my cap and
Sing praise—a medley—and
“Think” of telling teams
“Don’t Play That Song…”
Of being a
“Bridge Over Troubled
Water” in Flint—
Making water weaponizers
“Jump To It,” getting the lead out;
Of telling ICE kidnappers—
“Ain’t No Way…”

© 2018. Raymond Nat Turner, The Town Crier. All Rights Reserved.

BAR’s poet in residence Raymond Nat Turner is an accomplished performing artist. You can find much more of his work at http://upsurgejazz.com .