After going to the Page Poetry Parlour performance of Janice Lowe for her brilliant volume Leaving CLE--where she performed her poem/songs with a stellar group of musicians–she’s a great composer/arranger as well as poet–I walked out into the late summer evening and beheld the slowly waning harvest moon. Odd, cop car mid street at 9th Avenue and as I walked along past a building where I heard fantastic drumming (Michael Carven) I saw more cops, a WPIX van and asked two guys, what’s going on. “Explosion” between 6th and 7th. Masses of people were hanging at the corner , no one was panicking just another night in Gotham-one with bombs and 29 people injured. This is life during Wartime. It has been that way for 15 years. And we continue to make art, make love, make our lives as best we can. So this huge moon like the strawberry moon in June reminds me of cycles and sustenance–that things pivot and yet stay the same. There are terrible people who have time and bad intentions on their minds and we can no more stop them then we can stop the wind. They are not going to go away. So I say make your art–poems, stories, songs, paintings, installations, movies, whatever. Make them. Reap a harvest of new work to share. This is nurture. This is the good intention that we all can do as we live our lives as best we can under whatever huge moon we see.
I sent my brother my extra copy of Of Poetry and Protest: from Emmett Till to Trayvon Martin (WW Norton). He’s thrilled to have it and I am thrilled to be in it. This has been a year where so many Black poets have had to to “yet again” respond to the ongoing violence against our persons and community -vigilantes, police the political elite esp of one party. It’s 2016. Today is the 15 anniversary of the attack on and destruction of the World Trade Center, two edifices that tourists from around the globe seek to see. The irony of that is not lost on me or most New Yorkers.
As I said elsewhere my animus is focused mostly on the men who carried out the attack. They had the opportunity to not murder over 3,000 people. They chose not to. It might have been a matter of belief, but so what. People believe in all kinds of things, worship God or Gods or Goddesses and yet do not kill 3000 people. The event led to many other more horrific ones including America’s invasion of Iraq. Death and destruction continues.
It makes me realize how easy it is to war. To start and sustain conflict and put bodies in place to carry out the orders. The use of drones is just one more measure of the mechanization of this human effort. Whether by a soldier’s hand in combat or hand on a computer screen other humans die. Many other humans.
Peace is hard. Peace is about grown people finding ways to not lash out, not destroy, not manifest rage on somebody else body. And right now few people are ready to wage peace. That the Syrian president-a trained opthamologist is willing to drop chlorine bombs on children tells all of us just how bad the people who wage war want to win. I don’t even know if there is a place in hell for such a “leader”. Or maybe there is a new hell. Peace is hard. And no it will not be in my lifetime that peace will take root, but maybe in my grand nephew’s? I so hope.
Because as LaBelle sang “We need Power” but also “We need love.”
There is a reading of about 15 poets at Jefferson Market Public Library, 10th and 6th avenue, 2-4 p.m. FREE.
Come by. Commemorate.