SECTION TEN
POETRY PAGE ONE

sm
COLUMN 106, JUNE 1, 2004
(Copyright 2004 The Blacklisted Journalist)

ON THE WAY TO SEGENIETTI

                How to Remember
middle desert south Dekamhare
scrub cactus red blossom cactus
hidden between road and rugged hill
tank rusting into landscape, fitting in
memory tree memory rock memory tank 

               Segenietti Cowboy
10 head brahmin bull left
boy of ten with staff right
we're on bus passing through
he stops, places right foot on mileage marker
leans back, nods

               How to Get Money
Fifteen women in white
gabeys by the roadside
Bouquet of flowers in one
hand & the other's outstretched.  ##

* * *

GRIOT

1.
someone does something
someone else tells about it

2
someone has a purpose
someone else draws attention

3
someone preaches
someone else rousts the crowd

4
someone does
someone tells

5
someone leads
someone tells the leader
everyone else follows the leader

6
the teller does not lead
the teller does not follow the leader

7
I was very excited when my children started middle school
that their first assignment was to trace their family tree
they had to talk to their relatives and give dates, they
drew lines and charted out the families with symbols, arranging
history, even adding footnotes or maps of faraway places.
meanwhile in Gambia, sulea sussa (el-hajj papa hasan) tells
the geneology of the tribe, the family with the person for
a thousand years back sung to the linking kora and the wind
which carries the words in the air we breath

8
if you name a child after yourself or parent
other people can use that name
but you must call that child "papa? or "mama?
to show the respect due to the person
you named the child "after?

9
mohammed always gave it all away
but he gave the griot the largerst share
because unless he gathered the crowd
there would be no crowd

10
the only way to make a poem
is to tell what happened
what is happenning now

11
the moment is the poem

12
the kora leads and the voice tells

13
the detail is the poem
he wears a gold bracelet every Thursday after he sleeps
with his second wife, gold bracelet that reflects
the empty spot where his eye-tooth was before his
first wife knocked it out

14
see the girl with the red dress on
I am in love with the woman next to her
that is my wife, my marriage, my life
mother of my children, she knows me better
than she knows herself, I know her better
than she does.  And there is no competition
spent all those years looking at her looking
at me  ##  


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