Another Black Floyd
George, I don’t know how many of us are here
who share your Texas line
of long chocolate bodies
who can dance on and off the court
with a smile that warms the heart
how many share my Mississippi roots
with light skin and blonde curls
who prefer their mustards without meat, their tea without sweet
because none of these traits matter George
as no shared dna is needed
to make you kin, and call you ‘Bro
because I, too, am a Floyd
and I gasp again and again
with a heavy and sad heart
when I hear your call for Mama
while you begged that man not to silence your voice, your breath, your spirit with his knee
George, I am back now where I came from
scared and angry and filled up
seeing images of our people
hanging from a tree
dragged by a car
beaten with a whip
all with tied hands
begging for one more breath
that didn’t come
for they were just like us, George, born black, given the same name
I can’t cry anymore
and won’t gasp anymore
Mama I can’t breathe.
My father called everyone “Sir.”
It was his egalitarian mission,
they called him that, he responded in kind.
My father was not naturally
a lover of people
but he loved humanity
in general. SIR
at the man selling chestnuts
from a cart-—hot
they burned through mittens
as we tossed them
from hand to hand
before peeling, finally eating them,
so meaty and sweet.
My childhood is gone
now from that ravaged city
where piled corpses
are buried on the little islands
that welcomed them before—-
erased from the sidewalk
the hopscotch labyrinth
that once led—
throw a stone, then hop hop—
to the square marked
This moving decansos is on the ditch side on Acequia Madre. A contemporary decansos marks the place of death, such as from a highway accident. Originally these markers showed where the pallbearers had to pause.
This memorial is powerful because no one was literally killed by the police on Santa Fe’s east side. And yet it is as if it had happened right here.
This informal memorial is outside Second Street in the Railyard.
Photos by Rich Feldman, who continues to take me on any quest I can imagine.
(Click to enlarge)
William H. Johnson
From Wikipedia: William Henry Johnson (March 18, 1901 – April 13, 1970) was an American painter. Born in Florence, South Carolina, he became a student at the National Academy of Design in New York City, working with Charles Webster Hawthorne. He later lived and worked in France, where he was exposed to modernism. After Johnson married Danish textile artist Holcha Krake, the couple lived for some time in Scandinavia. There he was influenced by the strong folk art tradition. The couple moved to the United States in 1938. Johnson eventually found work as a teacher at the Harlem Community Art Center, through the Federal Art Project.
Johnson’s style evolved from realism to expressionism to a powerful folk style, for which he is best known. A substantial collection of his paintings, watercolors, and prints is held by the Smithsonian American Art Museum, which has organized and circulated major exhibitions of his works.
I love his work–it is a unique vision but one that lets me in as the viewer. This was painted after the death of his wife, speaking to personal suffering. Today it seems to speak to the communal. This painting is in the Smithsonian. I saw a group of his works two summers ago at the art museum in Delaware.
Published on Academy of American Poets (https://poets.org)
won’t you celebrate with me
what i have shaped into
a kind of life? i had no model.
born in babylon
both nonwhite and woman
what did i see to be except myself?
i made it up
here on this bridge between
starshine and clay,
my one hand holding tight
my other hand; come celebrate
with me that everyday
something has tried to kill me
and has failed.
Lucille Clifton, “won’t you celebrate with me” from Collected Poems of Lucille Clifton. Copyright © 1991 by Lucille Clifton. Reprinted with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc., on behalf of BOA Editions, Ltd., boaeditions.org.
This is the second call I’ve seen from a museum for pandemic material–
THE NATIONAL WOMEN’S HISTORY MUSEUM LAUNCHES WOMEN WRITING HISTORY: A CORONAVIRUS JOURNALING PROJECT
The National Women’s History Museum (NWHM) is pleased to launch Women Writing History: A Coronavirus Journaling Project, an initiative designed to ensure that women and girls’ unique voices and experiences are not left out of the telling of the COVID-19 story. Through this project, women and girls of all ages can participate through the simple act of recording their daily thoughts and experiences during this time in order to document the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on women’s lives.
You can fill out a form on their website to participate.
But it got me wondering again about journals and marking time. And now I wish I’d started a knitting or textile journal at the start of the pandemic (although I’ve never gotten this kind of thing to work!).
How are you marking time? Are you? Last week I started a new one-line journal–it is five years but I’m aiming for one. I like this kind of thing, but am not always dedicated to it. I always have a notebook in hand, but it isn’t always much of a diary. Of course I’ve published two books of journals, Dirty Laundry and years later A Hundred Cups of Coffee. But these were limited by time as well as marking it.
I’ve always wanted to keep a super secret journal…Now that my papers are archived in the Wittcliff Collection in Texas I sometimes throw out something too personal so I’m not tempted to send it.