Saturday, October 24, 2009

We are here, because they were there

By Angela Michele Counts © 2009

Commissioned by Myrtle Street Baptist Church, in Newton Massachusetts in commemoration of their 135th anniversary and the Atlantic Slave Trade.

Performed in 5 Voices...

Part I ~ The Waves…

The waves so restless now,
Tossing us about, confused
This same ocean I knew
Since youth, and his eyes too
And now, I can’t look.
His eyes, the same as mine.
Panic, they look away. The same,
Dark, ocean we belong.
Only now, terror: the smells
That we did not know. So
Close together. The shame
I never knew; his leg
Crossed with mine, and hers too.
Somebody’s arm bloodied. She fell,
We smell, each other,
Our humanity. Who are these
Devils, the ones with greedy teeth?
What did we do, and
Now can it be undone?

Part II ~ The Ship and the Land…

The wench, that one o’er there.
Grab her, and the child.
Wild, yes they are wild
But they will work hard
If they know who is Master.
The slave and the mule can
Be beaten into submission,
And neither will work again,
Perhaps, but the others, the
Others will work harder, you
See. We have much to gain
In this new world.

There is a war for Father’s Glory.
He made them for our dominion.
I would look upon them, but
Fore the smells, the hunger, and
The greediness. I see it in their eyes.
They want so much. Perhaps, even
What we have. Can you imagine?
One in a petticoat, in a bonnet, currying
Favor with Father. Oh yes, I hear
At night, voices by candlelight,
One reading to another. They learn,
And seem to feel affection for one another.
But what did they have there? Father
Says it is a vast wilderness, beasts
Roaming wild, and they too. No
Language to be understood. No
Music, no books. What kind of people
Are these? [ People ] … No, God
Didn’t make them the same. Fore it is
In the Bible. Have Father read it to
You tonight after supper.

Part III ~ Across the Waters…

Sophia Wisdom, across the waters she traveled,
A whisper, a wind of hope on God’s wings.

She was there in the beginning, whispering
Over waters. “Goodbye Senegal.”

Sophia wisdom, she was in the blood that beat,
The blood that knew, the blood that spilled
In soil, brave black men, rough tide taken out to sea
To be greeted by Sophia. Her whisper across
Parched lips, the hope for a cease in terror,
In despair. She drove bones to stand strong,
Limbs to bend. She spoke hope through eyes
Young and old.

She was with the ancestors, shackled, broken,
Foot to mouth, entanglement in horror, confusion.
She traveled, her spirit moving across the dark sea.
She bound up the tear, the tremor, kept the psyche
Alert to the betrayal and the beat-by-beat desire to live,
Even in the midst of death. In her breath, is Wisdom.

We are here, because they were there.

Because she was there. Whispering across the dark sea.
“Goodbye Senegal.”
Give thanks to the creator. God, the Son, and Holy Spirit.
Feel the breath in your body. Give thanks and see wisdom.

She is there.

Part IV ~ From There to Here…

God bless, they came, those that didn’t perish
On the way. They came, God bless they came.

Don’t know who each and every soul was that
Came that way, whose bones returned to this
Earth, the very land upon which we stand.
Maybe someone back in the village was extraordinary,
Learned, funny, had a bad attitude, didn’t play well with others.
We don’t know, but they came. All manner of human being,
Some so angry they could spit, others so deathly scared
They could die. Some so wise they knew to watch and wait,
Preserve what of themselves and others
They could.

They came, and here we all are these many centuries later.
Can we really fathom what debt of gratitude and admiration
We owe them? Can we truly ever understand what their terrorized
Beginning in the New World has meant for our world?

What can be said of a heartbreak so complete and total
That today its effects are still being felt?

Well, much can be said.

In the beginning was the Word.

Much can be read.

Your story is still being written.

But, baby, much can be forgotten.
So you best to remember it.

And much has been broken, chile.
But baby bind it up, heal it.

No more dreams deferred.
No more lives on layaway.

Jesus walked with them.
Let him walk with you.

We gonna forever be tied to those ancestors, forever linked in history,
But not necessarily in destiny. We are here, because they were there.
Let us honor them in our living, not in our despair but in our
Hope. Not in our anger, but in our righteous love. Not in
Our regret, in our shame, but in our commitment to justice for all
God’s chil’ren.

Some say God bless the child that’s got his own, and baby that means you.

We are here, because they were there.

God bless you and thank you.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Oops Upside Your Head: The Los Angeles Monologue

Angela takes a comic look at coming of age in the early ’80s, against the backdrop of Motown, Funk, and Sex, Drugs and Rock-n-Roll, when she leaves the comfort of her Detroit roots for sunny L.A.
Performed in 2007 at Arts Night Boston; Published 2009 The Wick.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Discovering like minded souls in the world of music

Founded in 2001, Wax Poetics is bridging the timeless with the current. Check it out.

Friday, July 17, 2009

The Soul is a House

© Angela Counts

From Tuscany, Italy (July 15, 2009)

The soul is a house
The soul is a house
From childhood
In dreams, lucid
Saturated with wine
The soul is robbed
Day workers, disguised
In daytime, asleep
They come to take
They come early
To look around
But they take
And they remove
One comes home
A little too late
To find ones
Childhood home empty
But don’t complain
It happens lately
But cry, grieve
You will find comfort
And awake you will
Realize the soul
That which is gone
Sold to others, removed
Is forever on your mind
A photo remains
Of dirty beige carpets
And scraps of life
We move into transit
One soul death
At a time, asleep
We lose, awake again
We grieve, and live
Down into the now

Friday, May 15, 2009

Cold War Redux

Angela Counts © 2009
Jamaica Pond (Boston, MA)

He drives by sometimes and sees them inside
Flushed cheeks full of grease
But tasty
Whatever concoction they are chewing
Tastes good to them

He on the other hand has refined tastes
In small portions
He is watching his weight
It never varies two or three pounds in either direction
Unless he is careless

He drives by, the tint and bulletproof
Blocking out the din and laughter of the untaught
He is gifted in the knowledge that he is special, apart
But he is troubled by the bomb, and the stars

They hope for what they don’t have and
Have more than they need
Food, house, loans
Children, not too many of these
Fore they too are children in their way

Life is like a playground after all,
Where the adults work
Hard so they can play, and buy

He buys too, but he can afford it

He drives by, no bullets tonight
Just words and thoughts
The future has become the present
Different than what he expected
And what he expects is good, superior

He hears them inside, their restaurant specials
Not so special, “But still, I must say…
What she wore, and what he said,
Stupid, wasn’t it, funny? Tragic, Yes.
Her fame and the end…Ah…”
Clink, clink.

Lit up and bright, their futures
Only in dark memory, despair
In private, they are public heroes
In public, they are gossips
Only he is the witness:

“Our world is good, our world!”

But he wonders, perhaps
They are the same after all
The bomb falls on them all
The debris falls on them all

But there will always be some left behind
He figures, to pick up the pieces and to plan

And the restaurants once empty
Will flow, and the building up again
What must continue, continues

The weak will lay in graves, the heroes too,
Honored by loved ones and country
But the weak, the ordinary will be remembered by few
But Oppenheimer will be remembered
He takes comfort

Some will reflect, after the bomb
There will be regret and outrage, never again,
Then laughing, planning and dreaming
Scheming, they forget
They become kings again, and queens, princesses

Shopping, acquiring
Sometimes kneeling
But expecting always expecting
There is something better
Out there, in us
After all, it ends

“Yes.” He thinks as he drives by
It ends, he knows
Better, he knows
But better to forget
He drives by, windows up,
Dreaming of stars.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Cow Skull

By Angela Counts © 2009

Lake Como, Italy

There was a cow skull on the onyx coffee table
It was a centerpiece
It was picked up and dusted under
Next to the skull were seeds
And papers for rolling cigarettes
Sometimes there were bottles of cheap wine
And sometimes there was cheez whiz and crackers

Daddy brought home little debbies one day
Running into the kitchen full of anticipation
Someone opened the fridge door, her skull collided
Against the heavy door and stunned them
She got extra debbies and equilibrium
Daddy got restless and left, the skull
beneath the soft flesh, forgotten like
the onxy coffee table and innocence