Sunday, November 22, 2009

iyawo (5)


“when they want to cross the sea, the lake or pond,
people make a bridge or raft - the wise have crossed already.”
siddhartha gautama

asserting neither being or nothing as absolutes
i ply this evening road, my concrete path linking
street & highway to an organizing principle. to a
system of thought & practice; to olódùmaré.

does it mean anything if my gas tank, like my
wallet, is empty; if i am riding on fumes &
precariously paused within blocks of the babalawo’s
house, obstructed by a long slow moving train?

humility is sometimes a bitch. even when glib
prophets proclaim this virtue different from the
shaming. i am convinced that sometimes the
former follows as a consequence of the latter.

my ebo for eşu: ojòwú okùnrín, jealous one who
eats first; abre camino, who sits at the crossroads.
open the road for me, má se mi o, do not undo me,
do not change my yes to no; my no to yes!

my ebo for ori: ori mase pekun de, -- inner spirit,
please do not shut the gate. i yearn for iwa pele &
for that i must inquire of my head first. wa sayee fun
awon omo mi di rere. make my life prosperous!

my ebo for my egbẹ ọgba: i have remembered our
accord & the contract is now being honored. please
enikeji do not withdraw your spiritual protection,
odo re ni mi mbo,
it is u that i am coming to,

my ebo for the egúngún: when i knew not the road
to follow, i chose, finally, to follow destiny. may all
of u, my ancestors, elders & spirits east, west, north
& south hear my song. ajuba o, ajuba o!

my ebo for ogún: ogún oni're, onile kangun-dangun ode
orun, egbe l'ehin, spirit of iron, owner of good fortune
& many mansions in heaven, help me on my journey,
remove the obstructions in my path! ajuba o!

my ebo for oşun: oşun oyeyeni mo, so full of wisdom,
most gracious mother, give me the crown that awakens
all pleasure, awede we ‘mo, cleanse me both within &
without; bring me abundance, yeye opo, a juba o!

my ebo to obalúaiyé: omolu ogo mi ano gbogbo gún,
always protect me with your strong medicine. yr voice
sings in my joyful heart: ẹbó fin, èrú dà. igún to gbẹbọ,
èrú dà. offerings received, accepted; the evil, departed!

in the ile, i leave my ordinary life behind. i don the
white cloth. my head is scraped clean & aşe-irrigated.
i am open to the full presence of the
òrìşà. there is singing
& chanting. i taste a powerful aşe, bite down on, chew

& swallow spirit food. i wear a crown of feathers. i sleep
on the spot where the father of secrets divines. i am
betrothed to spirit; am the man-bride. the floor is hard &
punishing, mediated only by woven mats.

òrìşà seeps into my dreams like blood bathing the
head & soaking cloth. bright like the sun is the one who
gave man speech; taught him the ways of coitus & how
to weave with needles. he calms & deepens my sleep.

i awake at cockcrow craving parrot feathers for my crown.
oba lofun is with me, is on me, is infused in the salts,
herbs & colors of the nine ritual baths, in the pure white
chalk that paints me throughout the day, prepares me

to be crowned with the stones & emblems of ọbatala.
at dusk i am seated, an opa in my left hand, an iruke in
my right & baba’s otan, frozen music, resting
on my
the evening takes on the cautiously slow pace

of the
very old. the journey into sleep this night is fluent
save for the rough concrete reminder of the floor & the
futile protest of muscle & bone. it seems that i have never
been truly awake. is it the voice of blake that i hear?

crying “what land is the land of dreams?” what, indeed, are
its mountains, its streams? nay, it is no english poet i hear,
but the voice of baba igbo, the speech-giver & the dream
world is awash in music, the words spoken are sounds &
vibrations, are bundles of information & energy,

are explosions of light, giving dimension to the dimensionless,
the myriad improvisations of awareness, words fissioning
into epiphany, words triggering transformation, leaking from
dreamspace into personal physical space.

moving from cell to cell, imprinted on my consciousness,
recreating my reality, my life stuff, my health, transforming
my internal dialogue & self image, reprogramming the drama
of my existence. i see/hear/feel it all. the clarity is narcotic.

cockcrow again. morning’s pungent breath shocks me back
to consciousness & yet another sanguine bathing begins.
afterwards, i don a new white cloth & receive seven new
feathers for my crown. morning melts into dusk.

an acute, whispering happiness muscles aside my familiar
melancholy; well-being masters conditioned discontent. in the
delicious aftermath of intense spiritual strain, i am given my ita,
embrace past, present & future & look on the face of destiny.

i am given my elekés, idé osha & a new family. i must now
observe strict codes of dress & behavior as i soak in the aşe
of my òrìşà,, there is rejoicing in heaven & on earth. i am
iyawo, a light reborn in rite & like a little child.

©Joseph McNair

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

breaking into salsa (4)

breaking into salsa

for the new world school of the arts dancers

breaking into salsa on the down or
moving the accent from bantu “1”
to arara “2”, stirring up the cancion,
coming on like a searing heat, the
juvenescent couples burn a flirtatious
encuentro, replete with pelvic thrust
& coital brush, boy chases,girl avoids --
then waits to be caught. hips creating
flowing, wave-like eruptions, flowing
with the hoarse stacato voicings of the
caja, mula y cachimba, the yuka drums
reeking of congo, of palo mayombe or
the batas, okónkolo, iyá & itótele, sacred
to şango, after he exchanged ifa’s tablets
with sage orunmila for the great gift of
dance, para convertirse en la divinidad
de la danza; if brazen young hips & feet,
or youthful swinging arms & tossing heads
could sing un alarde canción, they might
boast of inventing romance on a sultry
miami night.

©Joseph McNair

Monday, November 9, 2009

el dia del cajón (3)

el dia del cajón
for kiki sanchez & the afro-peruvian project
the despairing african, spurned
by his gods, angolan, antillean or
otherwise, who pined away until
only the sound of his coughing
death remained to ride the currents
of time --a sound which lapped
& soaked the trunks of ancient
trees like a mighty swollen river;
became embedded in the resonant
woods which thru’ some efficient
cause became spanish shipping crates
or small dresser drawers awaiting
the passion-pounding of magical
hands to free them from their
utilitarian disguises; to become the
box-like cajón, whose dark rhythms,
the festejo, lando, socabon, pregon,
zamacueca, & alcatraz, seduced,
then caressed the whimsical charango,
mandolin-made from the tortoise or
armadillo shell & together invoked
the mermaids.

©Joseph McNair;2009

Thursday, November 5, 2009

whence came u, spirit?(2)

whence came u, spirit?
for marina torres
whence came u, spirit?
¿de dónde vienes?
to possess the song,
el cante jondo, the dance,
baile flamenco y de estilo
flamenco de la guitarra?
to billow & engorge the
spinning skirtswirl of the
bata de cola?

are u fellahmengu
percussing the wind?
a palma clapping, golpe
stomping peasant spirit?
a morisco hiding among
the gypsies? or are u epiritu
sephardi flamante taking
the head of this hispano-
arabic bailaora,

spinning her so magically
around. see her zapateado,
her two feet, legion, a drum
roll, el redoble de los tambores,
this duende, like the compás,
speeding up, slowing down,
speeding up again, propelling
her thru the sequences of
a misterioso, a passion play!


©Joseph McNair;2009

Monday, November 2, 2009

un poema para los mariachis (1)

un poema para los mariachis

for raul araujo & mariachi mexico international
golden-throated buskers in
studded traje de charro tip their
wide-brimmed hats & play.

a colonial guitarrón prowls
melody’s sensual slums
like el aguacil,

the five string vihuelas &
acoustic guitars wheel, swoop
& spin a sweet chordal capote.

those postcolonial violins &
postmodern trumpets preen like
horny juglares angelical,

caress the romantic rancheras of
jiménez & infante, or

amaneci en tus brazos,
cien años, de qué manera te

timeless, handsome charros,
who remove their hats to sing
into a senorita’s ear.

emblemas de todas las cosas
de méxico… & all things lush
& romantic.

© Joseph McNair; 2009