Friday, June 16, 2006

Lyrical Somerville

Afaa Michael Weaver is a prominent Afro-American poet, a professor at Simmons College, the founder of the “Chinese Poetry Conference,” as well as the “Zora Neale Hurston Center,” at Simmons College, and the author of numerous books and poetry collections. He is a Somerville resident, and a member of the “Bagel Bards,” a group of poets and writers that meets at the Au Bon Pain Café every Saturday morning at 9 AM. I asked Afaa to contribute a poem about Somerville for the “Lyrical.” Gloucester had Charles Olsen, Brooklyn had Whitman, Chicago had Sandburg, and perhaps Somerville has Weaver. To have your work considered for the “Lyrical” send it Doug Holder 25 School St. Somerville, Mass. 02143

Freedom and Public Discourse,
Walter Howard in Davis Square

for the Bagel Bards

Publicare…our prayers, some to the east,
some to rainbows, some to dictionaries,
to white mums, wreaths, laurels,
Comcast, power bars, chocolate chip
ice cream sandwiches, bocconottis, canolis--
our prayers tease the nostrils of the dead who
have no sense. It was when the animals died
in slaughterhouses built after glaciers gave
way to Prospect Hill, hides and meat,
grease and glue taken over by Chicago,
grease and glue, all black and blue, grease
the glue that binds us. Down the hill
to where Harvard grinds its grey matter,
the evening walk back to here, where worker
ghosts are the deepest root of foundations
in these Old Houses, the erudite elbows sliding
in tables on the Grill Deli, working chaos
theory against deconstruction, the death
of poets and writers, Ovid’s elbows reclining
in Jimmy Tingle’s Off Broadway, sliding
on the arms of seats as poets and writers
are born again in the Somerville of Haitian
rice and beans, Guyanan dalpouri pulouri,
night songs swooning stubborn insomniacs,
music of Irish glory like Thomas O’Leary
speaking his brogue, and he is the only poet
in this poem because he alone walks these
lines to speak for Somerville as you read,
and now you understand why we poets are
legislators. We are meter maids and butlers
come to ticket superficial lives for being stuck
on the cushion of all money can buy.
Shallow must not happen in Market Basket
where the official language is the joy of
opportunity, the chance, and seeing this is all
we have, this town, this summit of the planet,
directly opposite China’s Gulf of Chili (go
study your globe) and below the melting ice
above us (top of the globe) as Jodie Foster says
in Inside Man, …buy grass seeds when water
is in the streets…paring the filmic phrase,
we write the law in poems that name only
one poet in this place that has grown above
the blood of things we eat, burgers and steaks,
stake in the way of all faith, in all we foolish
mortals have, a planet turning to its lush
life, the mass of who we are now a mikvah
for a globe warming, becoming its own feast.

Afaa Michael Weaver

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