Spoken Word

Spoken Word

Monday, February 5, 2018

It's all I ask?





What was his name?

That man, that man,

Of African birth who came,

So many generations past,

So very long ago,

So many questions asked,

And none who really know,

What was his name?

That man, that man,

If he were Akan,

He would have been named in order of his birth,

His name could have been any given Sunday,

He would have been given a soul name first,

 A name chose by Nyamewaa or Nyame

with another name to determine his life's worth,

But what if he were born in Burundi,

Nzikobanyanka, ("I know they hate us.")

Or if he were Yoruban,

He could have been born at time of festival

Abiodun, or the son of Royalty, Abioye,

What was his name?

That man, that man,

Who carried my DNA,

From sight unseen past,

into this present day,

What was his name?

Is all I ask?

Was he Igbo?

He was human first,

Before he was slave,

And the destruction of his identity,

which was the worst,

that ever became of us,

What was his name?

 Before that ship depart,

Was his name Chimaobi?

Did God know his heart?




victori7 ©

Monday, January 8, 2018

The Unbroken Reed

Written in answer to A Musical Instrument by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

What was he doing the great god Pan?
Do you really want to know?
Down by the River Oyan,
Where the Nigerian reeds grow,
provoking greed and creating a riot,
between the Yoruba, Dahomey, and Igbo
instigating wars and spreading blight.

He separated the reed from the rush, the Great God Pan
to divide and conquer the brush,
and took the reeds to a faraway land,
to labor like dogs to the mush,
from sun up to sun wan, fueling his greed,
He beat the blues from the reeds,

High on the deck of his ship, the Great God Pan
crowded the reed in the hull,
filled with disease, infection, and mayhem
kept them in line with a gun and a whip,
reducing their complaints to null,
and begrudging their Gods be damned.
He conquered their spirits in full.

He laughed at their pain, did the great God Pan
and drew their blood with the lash,
but music their groans became,
even on the hole of the asp.
like instruments, these reeds rang,
like the flute, the horn, and the sax,
though they inhaled pain,
They blew out jazz.
Negro spirituals in the fields of cane.

He stole them away from the River's edge,
to never again see their home,
but like the poet said,
in the Browning poem,
"He hacked and hewed as a great god can,
with his hard bleak steel at the patient reed,
til there was not a sign of the leaf indeed
to prove it fresh from the river."

A taker, not a giver, was the great God Pan,
so destined to live his manifest plan,
more a beast and less of a man,
he deforested the forest from the rain,
and caused the climate to change,
He never replenished the seed,
He drew the pith from the heart of a man,
and has never amended the deed.


These reeds grow now on a different plain, despite the Great God Pan,
bruised but unbroken, but then,
still a metaphor of a man,
The loss of roots is the cost of pain,
and of ancestors whose lives not lived in vain,
For the reed which grows nevermore again,
As a reed with the reeds of the River Oyan.


By Victori Bass ©


Browning's Poem


Elizabeth Barrett Browning. 1806–1861
  
687. A Musical Instrument
  
WHAT was he doing, the great god Pan,
  Down in the reeds by the river?
Spreading ruin and scattering ban,
Splashing and paddling with hoofs of a goat,
And breaking the golden lilies afloat         5
  With the dragon-fly on the river.
He tore out a reed, the great god Pan,
  From the deep cool bed of the river;
The limpid water turbidly ran,
And the broken lilies a-dying lay,  10
And the dragon-fly had fled away,
  Ere he brought it out of the river.
High on the shore sat the great god Pan,
  While turbidly flow'd the river;
And hack'd and hew'd as a great god can  15
With his hard bleak steel at the patient reed,
Till there was not a sign of the leaf indeed
  To prove it fresh from the river.
He cut it short, did the great god Pan
  (How tall it stood in the river!),  20
Then drew the pith, like the heart of a man,
Steadily from the outside ring,
And notch'd the poor dry empty thing
  In holes, as he sat by the river.
'This is the way,' laugh'd the great god Pan  25
  (Laugh'd while he sat by the river),
'The only way, since gods began
To make sweet music, they could succeed.'
Then dropping his mouth to a hole in the reed,
  He blew in power by the river.  30
Sweet, sweet, sweet, O Pan!
  Piercing sweet by the river!
Blinding sweet, O great god Pan!
The sun on the hill forgot to die,
And the lilies revived, and the dragon-fly  35
  Came back to dream on the river.
Yet half a beast is the great god Pan,
  To laugh as he sits by the river,
Making a poet out of a man:
The true gods sigh for the cost and pain—  40
For the reed which grows nevermore again
  As a reed with the reeds of the river.






Saturday, August 5, 2017

For One

Passport picture1999 when I first got locks

I fried dyed
Committed suicide
Laid you to the side
Cloning my dome,
After the ladies of Rome, I'm sorry,
Imitation is the sincerest form of harikari
I greased teased
But could not appease you,
Disguised you with weaves
Bordering on the brink
Between bone straight and curly kink,
Each time you had to juggle,
You rebelled, my wave
A symbol I think of strength and struggle,
Of ancestors too proud to live as slaves,
I termed you unruly, my beauty,
Tackled you, like Jacob at war with the Angel
Declared war against my natural tangle
Shackled you, in hair rollers and curling irons
Deployed anthrax spills of blonde and really red
To defeat my crown, you shifted
but would not be lifted
Ignoring my insistence upon inclusion
Amongst the living dead
You kept going back
Growing back, staying black
Defying that illusion,
And now I have reached the conclusion
That you are the true permanent
The God sent, the advertisement
That I love myself
Define myself
Allow myself to be
I place my hair on lock down
With my locked crown
I surrender do or die
Extract the cataract
From my third eye
And now I truly see
That without those chains of inferiority
I am truly F R E E!

Victori-04/01/99

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Between Sisters (For Gypsy Rose)


A bond exist between sisters,
It exist between brothers and sisters too,
But where a sister may be fine,
To resign, to just crying it through,
A brother may be quick,
To come to the rescue with fist,
And reduce a nuisance with violence,
Where a sister will play it cool,
And violence eschew,
She'll duel in her mind, like a science,
With a defiant DNA shared,
Between sisters.

A science that only a woman knows,
A strength that grows in cycles,
That recycles every new moon, it shows,
Like a perennial flower,
that returns each June,
She wears this strength on her shoulders,
Like a coat against rain,
And elbows through the pain,
She pushes past boulders,
But smiles anyway,
Determined to get to that one day older,
Because she knows,
That to make it to tomorrow,
She has to get through today.
This is a patience that persist
Between sisters.

And to speak of compassion,
We knew each other from the womb,
Like a psychic contraction,
Even after being surrounded by brothers,
I knew, I'd meet my sister soon,
Could there ever have been,
a beginning for this?
This my sis,
has been a life of laughter,
Of turns and twist,
of whispered secrets,
Of late night banter,
The one true happily-ever-after,
The love that exist,
Between sisters.

I remember the path she set,
An entrepreneurial spirit,
When others sisters wouldn't hear it,
And shunned all knowledge,
Too busy painting their nails,
Or buying Sasoons,
She was building her nest,
selling purple balloons,
Pursuiing her quest,
To work her way through college,
Setting an example to
The best and brightest,
And anyone willing to gamble,
That there is no rest, for the righteous,
Between sisters.

She taught us how to go get it,
And maintain our dignity,
Let the chips fall where they may,
But maintain our integrity,
And don't fall with it,
Because it doesn't matter
where you come from,
but where you begin,
And from there it only matters,
Where you go,
And where you end.
No itinerary,
No apologies,
No mysteries,
Or reasons to pretend,
Between sisters.
Victori ©

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Griot Soul




It was the griot soul

who wrote our history
on walls in graffiti,
and scribbled our scriptures,
in graphic mystery,
painting our likeness in cerulean mixtures,
undeniable hieroglyphic pictures,
of who we were meant to be.

It was the griot soul

Who cared about the young, 
who'd come after us,
who wrote their story in dung
on papyrus,
to let them know, 
they were not a curse,
but let truth show,
that they were Africa's
children first.

Have you ever heard the spirits speak,
encourage caution, and whisper warnings?
Have you ever been who the spirits seek,
in the early dawn of the morning?


 It was the griot soul

who composed our spirituals,
chanting litanies of our past,
in dance and song,
and to our own selves held true,
we strummed our misery, 
from the bowels of jazz,
and from that labor pain, 
gave birth to the blues,


It was the griot soul

Who carved our memories,
into monuments of Olmec collosal stone,
then left them by the sea,
and like any document ever known,
these heads speak volumes for all the world to see, 

On the West bank of the Nile at Aswan,
sleeps the governor whose beautiful mind,
caused a griot to inscribe his autobiography down,
and another to sculpt his head onto the body of a lion.
and place him in the desert for time reknown,
a guardian of time and truth,
some mistake him for Khafren,
but he is the Governor Harkhuf.


Have you ever heard the spirits speak,
encourage caution, and whisper warnings?
Have you ever been who the spirits seek,
in the early dawn of the morning?

We once communicated in talking drum,
We who the Dynasties built,
We don't know anymore where we're from,
And some don't even ask it,
We who once stitched our stories in quilts,
And wove our secrets in baskets,
don't know from whence we've come,
Or even question if the story we're told is true,
You should never let the enemy hold the pen,
because when your story is through,
The only person who will remember you when,
Is the griot soul in you!


Have you ever heard the spirits speak,
encourage caution, and whisper warnings?
Have you ever been who the spirits seek,
in the early dawn of the morning?

I have...

Victori Bass  ©
  
The Griot Soul





Sunday, March 19, 2017

23 Jazz Riff



23 Jazz Riff

Nimble fingers pace,

across 23 bars,

like Emanon on base,

plucking jazz from the mitochondrial dust,

of nameless stars,

half identical by descent, in  F sharp,

swung in recombinant syncopation,

groove to an ancestral tune,

played in residual replication,

This DNA gyrase two step,

jibes because of a dance,

down the big boss line of generations,

glides across our mother tongue

dips and slides,

as Afro-rican as

Johnny Blas

as mambo as

latin jazz,

survives, like Irish trad,

gyrates the hips,

like a congo drum,

its heart beats, so give it some,

what beautiful music made are we,

composed of a genome,

mixed and sampled on a keyboard of 23,

segments of a chromosome,

in perfect harmony ~victori

For Eric Garner...



My heart is broken,
Its time to grieve,
fight back the tears,   I'm choking,
I can't breathe,
I can't believe,
this been going down,
since Emmett Till,
whether it was Georgia's Sam Hose
or Los Angeles's Latasha Harlins,

Will it ever end?
every black mother knows,
Lady Justice ain't no friend,
She's lynching still.


July 13, 2013 Victori ©