Archive | June, 2016

Her name is Billie Jean

26 Jun
  Eleven years ago, right around mid morning, my maternal grandmother left this place while her pain ridden body lay motionless in her bed. That adage that time heals all wounds is false, at least for those of us with perfect elephant memories. I still hurt and I still miss her walloppy laugh and I still turn to dial a number I can never erase, 323-757-5508, she had it for 32 years and felt slightly perturbed about changing her area code, just to tell this monarch what madness my kids have done today, just to see if she’d like me to recreate them for her listening or viewing pleasure.
 I never thought it would hurt like this. I never realized the significance of who was there with us, my mom and me, as we served BB her last day in the home she bought in what used to be a “Good Neighborhood”, in almost Hawthorne. My dad’s mom arrived twenty minutes before goodbye, “just checking in on my friend,” she smiled as I sat Grandma Clark down with a cool drink to nurse the last of her memories before she lost them and her days a few years later. I’ll never forget coming out of Grandma’s chamber in tears only to be solaced by the little Indian lady whose eyes danced when she smiled.
   So forgive me for this essay of a status but surveys show that my kids are two thirds grown and my ornery, secretive and goofy best friend who taught me the ropes of fighting, saw only a portion of these three unthinkable people. Yes, I know she can see us all but it’s just not the same. I need the walloppy laugh when Daniel tells a joke, when Zach cruelly denies another kid’s shot, or when Karlie robs a batter’s hope by throwing her out at first. If you’re reading this BB, wallop a good one and make Heaven shake, rattle and roll. I love you❤️.

151st Juneteenth

19 Jun

It is fitting that the 151st ‪#‎Juneteenth‬ falls on ‪#‎FathersDay‬. What greater, braver, and more honorable sacrifice is there than being an enslaved parent, a father who toils and fights for the freedom of his children? This is the grave of my GGG Grandfather Corporal Jerry Holt, owned by his father and master Berryman Holt, enlisted in the Union Army at Lebanon, KY and was mustered into Company E, U.S. Colored Troops 125th Infantry Regiment on Apr 8, 1865. His name is engraved on the African American Civil War Memorial, plaque number D-130. When he returned home his father and former master gave him the land he toiled. Thank you father of my fathers. ‪#‎HappyFathersDay‬ #Juneteenth ‪#‎RussellKentucky‬ 151stJuneteenth

2016 AP Reading Poetry Reading

17 Jun

I am quite blessed and honored to serve as an AP Reader for College Board’s AP English Literature Exam now five summers in a row, and to celebrate our last reading in Louisville, Kentucky, I read two pieces from Love You Madly: Poetry about Jazz, edited by Lisa Alvarado. Here is one of the three pieces I wrote for Love You Madly Poetry, inspired by the legendary Hugh Masekela, who gave me a most perfect gift, my name.

Mahlalela (Lazy Bones)

There is no laziness in those bones.

Music is the symbiotic marriage of math and science

to passion and sound, birthing life, melody and drum

but no work of art is that simple.

Exile a man because he protests with a flugelhorn and prod him out at gun’s barrel,

amidst an ebullition of homestead and singeing flesh, and thwart him westward,

much like the fathers before him. He does not respond in kind,

but riffs on his clarion, “Mahlalela,” lazy bones, as Letta rubs their noses in it.

Rob a country of her griots and the callers will muster like Malcolm and MacDuff,

amassing millions, nations even, firing lyric and melody, chanting “Amandla!,[1]

while Makeba, Masekela, Mbulu and Semenya, turn the studio into the war room

and dismantle the Boer bear from distant waters rallying, “Idlozi livukile! Masibuyel’ emakhaya![2]

No lazy bones in this anthem and victory march song.

Its cadence proud and contagious, its timbre too bright and confident,

fully assured of the perfect, long suffering truth that neither life nor land

has been lost in vain,

and that freedom yet comes.
© Asani Charles

[1] Power

[2] The spirits of our ancestors have awakened! Let’s return home!