Sonnet No 3: Slam night at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe

Running well behind schedule on the sonnets. Sorry, will do better. Meanwhile, I’m not making this up:

Sonnet No 3: Slam Night at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe
We’re in line with a White IT consultant
who boasts two Matisse cut-out tattoos.
Someone’s shot dead in a car – the resultant
crime scene tape, marks the zone for clues.
In the street cops with Glocks are scoping a murder.
In the line a featured spoken-worder
waits. A Black poet says it’s droll
cops are called when words get out of control
in minority mouths. But speak not lightly
of poets and law. Inside the cafe
with wit and charm and rage they say
unsayable things, and say them nightly.
This may be where a new world starts
as words like bullets pierce our hearts.

2 responses to “Sonnet No 3: Slam night at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe

  1. J: Saw some of the racial profiling by NY cops last month – in Harlem – car pulled over – black persons out/being frisked – all part of the ugly quotas of pettiness in charges against those of hispanic or black appearance by the police who are forced to do it. Not at all nice. Chris and I stayed in Bed-Stuy – 90%+ black/hispanic! In the early throes of gentrification – but locals all decent pleasant folks that I could judge from our three weeks there! Visited kinship connections in Flatbush – an area largely peopled with people of Caribbean background – including those we visited – from Trinidad and Guyana. Also visited Jamaica – just to say I’d been to where Billy BLUE (ancestor of some of my “Kable” kinfolk) was born/from! Born there about late 1730s – according to historian Cassandra PYBUS. Just up from JFK Airport! Attended a literary event in Fort Greene at which Charles M BLOW (op ed writer with the NY Times) was interviewed re his just published memoir: Fire Shut Up in My Bones – about his poor black upbringing in Louisiana – now 44. Also bought Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz: An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the US. A tragic examination of the terra nullius principle (?) which “allowed” the American colonies/the US to make and break treaties, steal the land and commit genocide right across its width – as it folded all evil-doing into the myth of “manifest destiny” – and a “perfect” template for what then transpired in Australia! Same perfidy and genocide and rationale! Roxanne D_O’s book a perfect book-end to Prof. Howard ZINN’s: A People’s History of the US. Have you been to the Historical Society (between The Dakota Building and the Museum of Natural History). Brilliant examination of what it means to be American – via close study of the treatment over the past two centuries of US residents/citizens of Chinese background! When the US tells the truth of itself it does it extremely well. And how about the (first ever) Jeff KOONS retrospective at The Whitney! Bright, quirky – and more!


    • Thanks for that, Jim. The Historical Society sounds right our street – figuratively and almost literally. Sadly the Whitney isn’t open now. I’ll have to do a post about readings we get to …


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