Monday, May 16, 2005

Monday May 16th 2005 - 11:09AM

In today's post:
- Roger turns 37
- Anatomy of a Slam (a moment by moment account of the day of last MOnday's finals for Roger Bonair-Agard)

but first, let's begin with a poem, shall we?

Harriet Tubman to Condoleeza Rice:

you mean to tell me,
after all dat work
ah done did

you fittin' to drag
dem folks back?!

Condoleeza to Harriet:

When i asked Big Mama where
her Pappy was, this is what she said:

When they dragged Pappy off
that day, he didn't make a sound

didn't holler, didn't call
for no God. Figured he'd go quiet

and spare the family, the town
the trouble.

They burned our house down

Hung a couple of other men
as well

I wont let pass my lips
what they did

to ole Miss Essie who lived down
by the creek...

so Harriet, i know
what you think

but i been figurin' for a long time now
that it's time

i held the rope
in my own two hands


This is brand new. i just typed it right onto the post, so feel free to pick at it.

Monday May 9th:

Awake - contemplate where in the broadcast ESPN would be. does it make sense to catch the Monday morning hour and a half broadcast two-thirds of the way through, or should i go do sit-ups and catch the next broadcast beginning at 9:30. I'm vaguely aware that the slam is tonite. i couldn't care less.

i decide on sit-ups while looking at ESPN's SportsCenter. Figure to hit the gym by 11.

Hmmm - what's that in the refrigerator?

Settle on toast with butter. midway through toasting i decide to fry two eggs.

Get to gym. Hit the bike (25 mins). Hit the treadmill (30 mins) - i feel like i have asthma. my allergies are killing me and my lungs are on vacation...

Get Back to the house. Figure i should run some poems to see if i can get my adrenaline up. I want to perform well but i can't think of any good reason i need to make the team. I run "chantuel hymns", i run "future of america..." (the still kiling the buffalo poem part 2), panic because it's not comfortably in my memory bank. i run "devil in music" and decide that i'll open with that or with "future of america", because i'll be early in the first rotation and i'll need to come hard off the blocks if i want to survive the first two rounds. Come to a realization there. tonight i'd like to read at least three poems, so i want to survive the first two rounds and at least make it to the third - still no team-making urgency.

i run "called: Eurydice". i run "Bullet Points". they'll both be off book and i want to read them both tonite. come to a new realization - i'll need "devil in music" and "future of america" to survive till round 3 and i really really want to read these two poems ("eurydice" and "bullet points") even though i'm still on-book with them so i need to survive past the third round if i'm to read them both. i need to come in 6th at least...

Full panic sets in. Fuck!! the finals are tonite!!!

what do i wear tonight? i want something special; to make me feel like i'm dressed up and i haven't bought anything new. i decide on my brown jacket, waiscoat, and red tie over a brown striped shirt...

Hit the Showers

The train gets stuck on the way to teaching my after-school class. someone pulls the emergency brake on that bad boy and it gets stuck. the jamaican woman next to me proclaims loudly after 15 minutes "well dem need to open de door, mek we get ah nex train fi go werk!" i explain gently that the doors can't be opened. she is unimpressed... "ah foolishness dat!" she says.

Finally get to my class. another teacher who is teaching the kids how to make flip-books is getting joshua to do them, but getting mad lip from him at the same time. Joshua is about 5 foot tall and is sitting next to Giovanni who is 6 foot 4 (they're both 13) or sump'n. Joshua decides he'd be better at the poetry thing so i teach him how to write a tonka, then show him how to turn the tonka into a flip-book, so he can make a "movie" so to speak of his poem building itself letter by letter. he really digs this idea...

I have no memory in my head of a slam. Giovanni is the funniest 1 year old you'll ever meet and Joshua is trying to start beef with Shirley. Shirley takes no shorts so i'm telling Shirley she better not come sit next to Joshua cuz it'll probably end badly. I'm doing this i think more for Joshua's sake than Shirley's. In another corner i'm trying to get Shirley and Kimberly to write letter poems. There stories are rough public school poor folk stories but i like talking to Joshua and Giovanni and Kimberly and Shirley. They're the realest people i've vibed with so far today.

Class Over

Get to Bar 13. I'm tense. The house is packed. i feel like i'm going to hyper-ventilate. i consider taking a hit of marty's inhaler but i decide to wait. i get myself some vodka instead.

we draw for order. i'm third.

Slam Begins.

Samantha pulls 1 and starts off well. She gets a 28.8 which would be a scintillating first round first poem score any other time any other slam, but Mo Brown sticks her landing with a 29.4 and i (jitters for the entire first poem on stage. i swear folks can see my legs shake)land a 29.5. the score creep has officially crept folks!

basically, the scores never really come back down. For the rest of the first round there is a 29.3, a 29.1, a 29.7, a 29.8 a 29.0. and sump'n else. it's tite!

2nd round more of same. i'm a little more comfortable now. i've had something with tequila in it. i stay up in the 29s and i'm comfortably somewhere in third place to this point.

Round 3 is clean slate. you can't fuck up here. Cirelli is 7th after the first two rounds. Samantha and Fish are the ones who don't survive the first two. Cirelli hits for a 28.9 in the third round and again, it's not the night to fall off even slightly. Cirelli is out after the scores launch again into the 29.4s and 5s. i get a 29.7 i think and we head to the fourth round.

At this point, T'ai is killing it. Rachel is killing it. Carlos is killing it and i'm thinking that the overall winner will come from these three. Round Four, folks still feel me reading off paper and i get a 29.6 or sump'n. The energy in the room (which is over 150 strong) is lunatic and every nuance of every performance is becoming important. After round 4, Jive Poetic, who has asked me which poem i think he should do, completely leap frogs a bunch of folks and it knocks Mahogany out. The team is set. T'ai Freedom Ford, Rachel McKibbens, Carlos Andres Gomez, Jive Poetic and myself. Just one more round now to decide the overall champion. i'm last in order in the last round. And it's one of those nights that whomever gets the last word in will probably take it. Still, T'ai and Rachel make it so that i need a 29.7 to win outright. i still have chantuel hymns in my pocket. i am most comfortable with this. it is three tequila broder crossings later. it's all good. i'm on the team. i don't really care what happens now except that i owe the room my all for one more poem tonite. Midway through my first stanza, i'm hearing crazy high-pitched feedback, so i go off-mic. i'm the last poet of the night and so, i can do no wrong. i get a 29.8 (i think), and i win outright. it's a good night and i've read some new poems and all poems that i really really like.

Go to for the pictures. He's a fabulous photographer. Some day i'll figure out hoe to post the pictures on the blog myself


Blogger Christina Springer said...

Damn! That poem be might disturbing!
Want a bit more from Harriet. She's not nearly as full as Condelezza.

2:31 PM  

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