Tuesday, June 29, 2010

remembering fred anderson (9)

remembering fred anderson
(1929 -2010)
a kwasaba

chicago legend, lone prophet on the prairie

booed off the band stand in ’60
@ the fifth jacks club in the

town he made his home. but stayed,

played his free jazz in their heads,
their hearts embrace him; know the
canny prophet in his own home town.

©Joseph McNair;2010

Monday, June 28, 2010

remembering will bill davis (8)

remembering wild bill davis

a kwansaba

mythic bridge builder; a man span between big
band swing & acid organ combo; set
the tone, worked preset & drawbar,
shaped an audible vatic vision that smote
jimmy smith on his lonely road to
fame. sent him to the wood shed;
& out the back door to destiny!

©Joseph McNair;2010

remembering jimmy smith (7)

remembering jimmy smith

i heard … a cat playing forty choruses of georgia brown in pure
'nashua' tempo & never repeating. i heard futuristic,
stratospheric sounds that were never before
explored on the organ."
--babs gonzales

u pulled out that stop, that third harmonic, & the bulb
lit up… thunder & lightning, u said, & stars fell out
of the sky! silver & blakey brought the bop, the hard
edged urban bop, but u, jimmy, brought the funk to jazz
long before the mothership touched down -- when george clinton
was still working his way thru’ doowop -- the chitlinstank
in the neighborhood funk, the sweetsweat-not-acid shirt
soaking funk, the left-hand walkin’, foot pedal stompin’
got my mean mojo workin’ funk partnered with a sizzling
virtuoso horn solo playing right hand. made that hammond
b3 hum, shriek; made it blues shout, holler & scream, or
purr & coo or softly cry -- an ascended master
ere the cognoscenti knew the jazz organ had one.

©Joseph McNair; 2010

a mule of a different sort (6)

a different sort of mule

for hundreds of years whites have projected
the belief that …[non whites]…are inferior, a
concept that is in- consistent with reality.
what is the result? A mass psychosis has set
in among many white people.
ja a. jahannes

when inconsistency is prolonged
between belief system & reality,
psychosis ensues…

gov. jan brewer’s egotonicity, her
cognitive unraveling, the crudity of
her categorization & labeling –

“we all know that the majority of the
people … coming to arizona &
trespassing are now …drug mules” –

of (in her mind) related & perceived
possible threats bears witness to this.
she has become like "il duce" a lens,

a nonadjustable fixed focus of sharp
images of white supremacy, creative
fictions to which her like-minded

constituencies cling; like the skeletal
steel-fingered grip of a corpse that
squeezes an object treasured in life;

that act like hallucinogens which alter
perception, thought & mood & are
dealt (her mouth to their ears) from

the very seat of state government. is
she not herself a courier, mind & soul
packing/stuffing the psychotics she

has swallowed & smuggled across the
rational borders of morality. is she not,
herself, a mule of a different sort ?

©Joseph McNair;2010

Saturday, June 19, 2010

sketches of cité soleil (5)

sketches of cité soleil

for whose entertainment shall we sing our agony?
in what hopes? that the destroyers, aspiring to
extinguish us will suffer conciliatory remorse
at the sight of their own fantastic success?"
-- ezili dantò


a light aircraft
just under 12,000 lbs.
bezwen soulajman
(needed supplies)

overflies runway;
crashes in cité soleil.
manna from heaven?

the carrion folk
come, groaning for burial --
strip the carcass clean.

gone before the blood
pooled on the pilot seat clots,
long before it dries.


chimères: ghost
gangs who haunt breeze-block walls that
grin like rotted teeth,

buildings scarred, pitted
from eruptive bullets, who
traffic in terror!

bereft of purpose,
& populist vision, they
steal, rape & kidnap;

extort & kill without
guilt or remorse. trade their souls
for weapons.


vigilante groups –
neighborhood protection – meet
terror with terror;

steal, rape, kidnap, kill –
in retributive orgies
of feral justice.

no police dare come,
no blue helmets seen in no-
go cité soleil.

no international
peace keepers come without
armored vehicles.


no female is safe.
the penis is a weapon;
a tool of control.

one in two girls &
young women soul soiled by
sexual abuse.

children’s songs spread tales
of what the boys have done – the
girls cannot go home!

the women cry out
we are shamed & dishonored
to ears trauma stopped!

even h.i.v. –
dread diare masisi
who lurks, zombi walks –

fails to scare, deter.
is warded by strong potions
of vaginal rinse,

water quaffed that washed a
lover’s most private parts clean,
or sex in the sea,

or houngans sleeping
with girls possessed with spirits
infected with a.i.d.s.


pòv cité soleil’s
haze of dust & cooking smoke
hides her real abuse:

1st world sabotage,
aid agency failure &
government neglect.

a people betrayed:
one hundred twenty-two years
of indemnity

extorted by france;
20 billion dollars paid,
the cost of revolt.


billions of dollars
of aid appear, disappear;
swilled by corruption.

i.m.f. loans &
structural adjustment speed
resource extraction.

cheap u.s. produce
flood all haitian markets
farmers stop farming,

& in the highlands
desperate people strip bare
the once lush forests.


impotent leaders
sadly caricature what
government should be.

grounded by the shades
of rulers, overthrown &

haunting the government seat,
they are bent, twisted,

voracious & cruel
or at best indifferent.
èske gen espwa?
(is there hope?)


is there any hope
for those held hostage by life
in cité soleil?

in cité soleil
where folk decrease to half-lives;
in set rate decay.

a malignancy
poverty, not vodou, makes;

where there’s life, there’s hope.
where there is hope, redemption.
beni ayiti!

©Joseph McNair;2010

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

fix the shading on the children's faces (4)

fix the shading on the children's faces!

"to depict the biggest picture on
the building as a black person, i would
have to ask the question: why?"
steve blair

what guides the hand of a
muralista? some glittering
idea that compels from a
world apart? some form
embedded in media matter,
awaiting a cunning artisan
touch to coax it out in all of
its material splendor? or
maybe some possessing
spirit of the age to take the
head, insinuate itself into
the lime mortar or plaster,
the tempera or encaustic
colors ground in a molten
beeswax or resin binder to
social realist art into the
public sphere -- to achieve
a political goal, to socially
emancipate, to advertize.
the mural mice, hardly a cell
of trotskyites, hired to paint
two intersection-facing walls
of the miller valley elementary
school in prescott, arizona,
learned first hand the backlash
of white privilege. they daringly
deigned to represent a multiethnic
vision --children using "green"
modes of transportation.
dominating pattern & symmetry,
points of interest & texture,
line & depth of field was the
striking image of a young
brown boy with a thick strong
jaw & defiant eyes, on one
knee, poised to get up &…act!
a metaphor for the artist in
a decadent capitalist society?
shaped by conflict between
himself & the social forces
arrayed against him? hardly.
like david alfaro siqueiros’
tropical america, brimming
with radical political militancy
or diego rivera’s provocative
post impressionist mural for
the hotel de prado in mexico
city including the words
"god does not exist" or jose
orozco’s symbolist murals
promoting the political causes
of peasants & workers?
not at all -- but powerful enough
to provoke a thermidorean
reaction from the prescott
demographic. from moving cars
came the shibboleths:

"you're desecrating our school,"
“get the nigger off the wall!”
“get the spic off the wall!”

hurled by the philistine, the
conservative & the frightened;
prompting the school principal
to tell the mural mice to lighten
up --the images on the wall,
that is; make those dark folk
lighter before they draw out
the destructive quality of
reconstructed whiteness, its
sinister structural causes &
consequences, before they
reveal the possessive
investment in being white &
the reinvention of white
identity as nonracist,
nonoppressive & victimized --
informed by the delusions &
projections of so-called decent
folk preserving their heritage.

©Joseph McNair; 2010

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

we cannot chuse but hear (3)

we cannot but chuse to hear

at length did cross an albatross:
thorough the fog it came…
samuel taylor coleridge

formed when sand,
silt & grains of clay,
scraped & torn away
by tenacious, taloned
fingers of wind, rain,
& glacial ice, from
sundry land terrain --
proud mountains &
defiant flatlands –
whose scarring
declaims like totemic
tattoos the lingering
injuries & damage;
join the downslope
creep of soil to be
carried by rivers,
streams & gravity,
deposited in layers of
sediment on the ocean
floor, in riverbeds &
swamps, mixing long
dead organic miasma,
the fossil remains of
plants & planckton
mixed with mud &
sand, squeezed into
source rock & heated
to the night temperatures
of the earthen crust,
bearing the downward
press of a hundred
thousand years, the
transforming weight
that releases kerogens --
the black waxy crude,
or natural gas -- into
porous or fractured
rock, into subsurface
pools – one of gaia’s
many seepages &
secretions – brought
forth from wounds
piercing her dermis in
spurts of black, thick
& tar-like fossil
fuel or small, light
effervescent carbon
chains timed to the
beat of her heavy
heart. like a blood
donor, she has given
much & often, has
transfused mankind’ s
movement & industry
but now bleeds
uncontrollably from
too many punctures,
bathing wetlands &
barrier islands in a
tide of oozing crude,
smothering an entire
generation of shrimp
& crab, smothering
dolphins, whales &
turtles, poisoning fish
turning diving birds –
gannets, pelicans
frigates. & sanderlings –
into flightless, oil-soaked,
drowning birds. can we
not read the portents,
the omens? have we
lost the gift of auspicy?
the higher the bird flight
the more favorable the
omen but flightless
birds portend certain
doom. can we not see
as one with a glittering
eye? see for endless
days & nights the curse
in the eyes of the eleven
deep water horizon dead.
must we wander in our
guilt this earth to tell
any & all who might
listen that god glories
life over greed, loves
all things s/he has made?
or will we remain the
unwitting prizes of
yellow-haired, red-lipped

©Joseph McNair;2010

Sunday, June 6, 2010

si m mouri, ou pral mouri!” (2)

si m mouri, ou pral mouri!”
(if i die, you die!)

once an island lush with trees, ayiti is
bereft, her mountainous breasts bare,
their covering ripped by hunger’s rapine
hand. the cold aromatic sea breeze with its
tangy, fishy smell meets an acrid warmer air
from a land smoking, redolently reeking of
wood burning on lle de la gonave, stacked
in whitened piles eternally curing, then
bagged & distributed in les arcahaie.

the people cry out: “nou vle manje; nou pa
mouri!” (we want to eat; we do not want to
die!) but the land screams “ou ap tiye m!”
(you are killing me!)

ninety eight per cent of her forests gone,
fifty-odd thousand grieving trees felled each
day like brittle warweary soldiers under truce
to clear the way for summer floods to wash her
rich, nutrient topsoil into the sea. riding bare
back on the scent of charcoal are the foul
cadaverine & putrescine bouquets that beckon
skulking desertification, the scavenger who
will surely come to clean the island’s bones!

but the people insist: “nou vle manje; nou pa
mouri!” (we want to eat; we do not want to
die!) & the land screams “se mwen menm
mouri!” (i am dying!)

are there no environmental regulations? no
subsidiaries for alternative fuels? where is
government? behold bureaucrats, the mango
tree is too precious to cut down. plant mango
plantations. tell yr people to plant corn, sorghum
& beans between a few mango trees on their
small farms. harvest the towering mounds of
garbage, recycle the paper. use that as cooking
fuel! there are no shortages of solutions!

terrace farm the mountains! cultivate plants
that will thrive on mountainsides, whose
roots will hold in place, stabilize & regenerate
the soil. behold businessmen, there are haitians
who know how to do this, who are doing this
already! where is the money? & where are the
teachers, the each-one-teach-ones who persuade
the people that killing the land brings on their
own unconscionable & inevitable demise

the people rejoin: “nou vle manje; nou pa
mouri!” (we want to eat; we do not want to die!)
& the land responds with resignation ”si m mouri,
ou pral mouri!” (if I die, you die!)

© Joseph McNair;2010

Friday, June 4, 2010

hb2281 (1)

"tell me & i will forget,
teach me & i might remember;
involve me & i will learn."
ancient chinese proverb

languages [like the arizona
wapiti or the arizona jaguar]
become extinct when no longer
able to negotiate hostile or
changing conditions or prevail
against irresistible competition.
the moment of extinction? the
death or muting of the last
language speaker. the last
ubykh speaker died in turkey
in ‘92 at the unethereal &
certainly uneternal age of 88.
cultures [like the greater prairie
chicken or the passenger pigeon]
become extinct when cultural
diversity is abated & languages
are endangered & proscribed
with extreme prejudice!
every two weeks, a culture
dies, taking with it irreplaceable
knowledge & experience into
a great unknown. we stand,
some of us, strangely mute,
unmoved or unmoving & at our
own peril, like vacuous & self-
absorbed deutschländers in ’23
unmindful of the frenetic, evil
goings on in the bürgerbräukeller"
while in arizona a general process
of destruction, like a tall, dense &
involved nephotic mass, gathers
momentum. a delusional rationality
begets an imaginary construct
which shapes a body politic in the
image of its fears, resentments &
whited sepulchral utopias, razing
relentlessly & trying to eliminate
the rest of us, “the enemy”;
attempting to reduce vibrantly
viable speech, customs,folkways &
the spirit of the same to eerie
artifacts of the extinct …
& the rage of affluent collectors.

©Joseph McNair;2010