Urgently Standing @ the DIA

This past Friday as part of the Detroit Institute of Art’s Friday Night Live! Series (Fridays, 6:00-10:00pm, free for Detroit residents) the museum presented: An Evening with Jessica Care Moore and Aku Kadogo. The program described the performance as, “Part theater, poetry slam and dance hall, the performances of these women from different generations pay homage to African American poets and performers, including Jayne Cortez, Sonia Snachez and Ntozoke Shange.” I would add that Aku especially set the room ablaze with energy performing her poem dedicated to Grace Lee Boggs, called Urgently Standing. This local artist made a visceral appeal to those gathered to recognize the abundance and transformational potential of this beloved city as well as the urgent need to talk about it. Graciously, Aku has added her poem to our Unending Conversations of Hope.

Urgently Standing
For Grace Lee Boggs
By: Aku Kadogo

I am standing here
urgently
I am urgently
standing
I urgently got to
Talk about it
I gotta talk about it
I gotta talk about it

Our
Beloved city
Of desolate beauty

The pain at seeing you so broke down
Did we miss the opportunity
To give up
the privilege of over consuming?

Only to be consumed ourselves
Spat out

Entertained by
Downtown clown shows
That distract

have nothing to do
Yet
everything to do with our lives?
Insipid men minding politics and pussy
grease their hands
With golden handshakes
Selling another vacant lot
Another piece of Belle Isle
Another chunk of parkland
While we
Blinded mind somebody else’s business

Hardly anybody
talking about blind
I gotta talk about it
I urgently gotta talk about
The funerary images that pass for
Entertainment
Murder, mayhem and
Reckless acts of no consequence
indelibly
Marking the minds of our children
In Malaise
Saggin
With weapons
foul language
Somebody please explain to them
The genocide they commit every time a
Bullet takes away some mammas
Baby daddy’s
chile
Another black man dons an orange suit
To inhabit a grey cell of ashen cinderblocks
I stand urgently
Urgently fixated
I urgently gotta talk about it
I gotta talk about it
I gotta scream about it
Burnt houses
Broken People
Begging men
Closing schools
Reckless driving
Crack Head dreaming
Marvin said
This ain’t livin
This ain’t livin
Naw
Naw
Naw
Naw

Only yesterday
Across the street
A man broken
Barricaded himself in a room
Ignited himself
Urgently
Howling
Could we hear?
No
We
We
We
We stood by helpless
We, clouded by the
Intensity of
Inner city blues,
I gotta urgently say
Wake up
open your eyes

Beloved
City
One time mecca
Of African American intelligentsia
Where quarter of a million men, women and children
Marched
up
Woodward
Against war and unfair wages
Where the strong men kept a comin on
Marching up from down south
Only to be colonised
By GM Chyrsler Henry Ford
Viet Nam Iraq
Pay the rent
Mortgage bills
Spat out

Beloved
City
Of
Clean Water
Salt
And Techno Music
I gotta urgently give the DJ some

(Music break)

I gotta talk about
Love
I urgently gotta talk about
Wrapping our arms around
Ourselves

About loving who we are
In spite of it all
Because of it all

About harnessing
untapped energy
Brain power
Futuristic
Urgency
Now

About growing gardens
Growing children
In cracks
in lots
in abundance

About thinking beyond the square box
Into the cosmos of
Potentiality
Transformation

When in doubt
The ship may go down
Shit
maybe the ship has sunk
But
We stand tall
On shoulders of
Ancestors who survived
Survived
Survived
Children of Survivors

I gotta talk about it
I urgently gotta talk about it
I gotta sing about it
I urgently gotta sing about it
I gotta dance about it
I gotta urgently gotta dance about it
I urgently
Gotta
Gotta
Gotta
Gotta
Gotta
© Aku Kadogo
February 2008

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