30 June 2005

Back in the day, before I knew him, I watched Sekou (tha misfit) kick a mic cord out of his way with the edge of his shoe, right in the middle of a poem. And he did it without looking down. Since then I’ve watched him win national championships, watched him tape for Def Poetry Jam, seen his face on the side of a tour bus—but still I like that mic thing the best.

- -The SW Poet Profile- -


1. Favorite line, right now, of yours:

SEKOU: my politics are too liberal to get me a place in your heaven;
my religion, too conservative to get me a place in your protest

2. Favorite line, right now, of someone else:

SEKOU: “click-click, i no longer find it coincidence that the sound of a pen is the same sound a gun makes.”—from “Open Mic” by Asia (Miami, FL)

3. It’s been __________ since the last time you __________:

SEKOU: “it’s been 6 days since the last time i went to the gym,
But so what, I really don’t need to be muscular. I’m a healthy cat.
Besides ladies don’t want one of those muscle-bound cats, with concrete chisled pecs,
and biceps that bulge to the size of melons and . . .
They want guys like me:
Disease Free, baby!”

4. You knew it was a good/bad gig (pick one) when:

SEKOU: I knew it was going to be a good gig, when I stepped into the venue, WHILE another poet was featuring, and the whole room shouted out “cuuuuuckoooooooooo!” so loud I wanted to apologize to the poet who was reading before me.

5. The proudest money you ever made was:

SEKOU: I was late to a show after driving down to pick up my brand new, debut spoken word CD from the duplicator… I ran in the venue with minutes to spare … nervously pacing, sweating, and deep-breathing backstage before going up and ripping one of the best sets of my life. I then stood outside after and made my entire rent in CD sales. It was two days after I quit my job to become a full time poet, and I thought to myself, with a secret smile, “Oh shit! I can DO this.”

6. When I say “swingset,” you think (where?):

SEKOU: Any ghetto park, in any hood, USA; one swing hangs lobsided with one chain broken, another with leather torn at the seams, but there’s always just one that still works—"the last working swing in the park.”

7. When I say “covet,” you think (what?):

SEKOU: my neighbor’s house, his ox, his donkey, his wife, and his female servant . . . okay, just his wife and female servant together . . . butt-naked . . . what was the question?

8. When I say “credit,” you think (who?):

SEKOU: Rives and Steve Connell taking credit internationally for each others poems because, well, it’s just not worth it to correct anyone anymore.

9. When I say “habit,” you think (…?):

SEKOU: Rubbing my eyes and saying I’m tired at the beginning of my set.

10. What’s on God’s iPod?

SEKOU: 1. Psalm 13, sang by Prince, remixed by Timbaland, with a guest verse by Makavelli (and as it turns out, God’s IPOD has a feature that, whenever the same song is played by anyone else, it’s sang by that individual listener’s equivalent of Prince, Tim, and Makavelli … Apple hasn’t released that feature to the public yet, but I know a guy who knows a guy …)

2. a rough mixdown of the inspiration for my next CD (I’m still waiting for Him to let me burn it)

p.s. (anything else?)

SEKOU: “The kids better buy my Rookie Card now,
cause after this year, the price aint going down,
… It’s just a warning, as usual some cats won’t heed it,
The hard-headed always gotta feel it to believe it!”

-Mos Def


27 June 2005

I was living in Manhattan less than twelve hours when I took a stroll down a small street in the East Village and ran into the poet Michael Cirelli (catch him July 15th on HBO’s Def Poetry Jam. The next night I visited him at a reading, and this is the poem he had folded in his back pocket.


is the newest nickname she’s given me.
She said it was a combination of my wolfish beard,
and my throat-wrenching paws that drove her to it.
It came to her after the fifth time I clawed at her torso
then lumped back to my cave. But I hate monsters,
I told her. Even Frankenstein, she asked? I detest
Frankenstein, I replied. How about The Abominable
No. The snowman has bad teeth, I said.
How about the Hunchback of Notre Dame? That guy,
I told her, is always looking at my feet. She said,
You always wear nice sneakers, and stepped on my
left bigfoot. What about vampires, she asked. I especially hate
Vampires. Why? Because I know how much they love you,
my dear.

Look for Cirelli on Def Poetry Jam soon. Yep-Cirelli.

—Michael Cirelli

25 June 2005

I took this picture at the Mermaid Parade on Coney Island today. Two weeks ago was the Puerto Rican Day Parade in Manhattan, and yesterday was John the Baptist’s Birthday, when certain devout Catholics go swimming at midnight. Tomorrow is the Gay Pride Parade.

Somewhere in this throbbing city is a homosexual apostolic boricua siren, and wow is she exhuasted.

22 June 2005

Corrina Bain Has Her Own Private Lunatic
Or: You know how the moon seems to follow you wherever you go? So will this freaky tune. (If you click the link. So click the link.)

Kaylee writes in to say:

…and also to tell you thanks for the interview with Corrina Bain. She wrote my favorite poem, which is “Open Letter to the Moon.” I collect songs, poems and stories about the moon, and I basically waited until the full moon to write you this. If you want to hear my favorite song about the moon, it is at http://www.rathergood.com/moon_song/.

17 June 2005

Yesterday was Bloomsday

…so I took my own meander, to the easternmost manhole cover in Manhattan (closest to Dublin), looked west (towards Los Angeles), and snapped photographs clockwise to the Manhattan Bridge.

16 June 2005

What I learned on a cross-country trip from LA to NYC

Dinosaurs lived a long, long, long time ago and were made from fiberglass. Except their predatory teeth were made from nails.
A mine squatting right on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon was the world’s biggest supplier of uranium in the 1950’s. The view from the top is one of the best in the National Park, except for the nuclear ranger always yelling at you to get the heck off of there immediately.
This squirrel is thinking: If this canyon is so gosh darn BIG—why don’t all these people look less fat?
My grandparents live next door to the municipal swimming pool in a small town in Tennessee. And they did when I was a kid. Which is all you need to know to know my summers back then.

This boy is probably in “Tadpole” class, or possibly “Minnow.” The highest daytime rank is “Shark.” The highest nighttime rank is “Skinnydip.”
The entrance fee to Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s home, is $14 per person. If you pay with a twenty, they’ll give you three two dollar bills as change.

13 June 2005

So—the most recent Word of the Week was houghmagandy, which means “illicit intercourse.” And the term gandy dancer, for those of you who don’t already know, means: 1) a laborer in a railroad section gang, and 2) an itinerant or seasonal laborer.

Which is why anonymous is being particularly clever when he or she writes in to ask:

If a hobo has sex on the railroad tracks, is the hobo “houghmagandy dancing?”

I reckon the question is kinda rhetorical, but bonus points to anonymous anyway for a big-ass vocabulary, for keeping with a recent theme, and for academic rigor in regards to houghmagandydancerdom.“Rives ripped a poem about gastelpoane”

Which reminds me…

One night, long ago, I was taking a midnight stroll in Santa Cruz, California. As I passed by The Gandydancer Cafe, I saw a cute girl inside whom I remotely knew from my Physics class. Remote as in: if I were, say, beryllium, she would be, like, unnilhexium or something.

So I pretended to just sorta drop by the cafe, and then I pretended I was really craving a hot chocolate, and then I pretended to read Herman Hesse’s “Strange News from Another Star and Other Tales” in the corner. (I was in college, so that paperback was in my backpack. Habitually, I mean.) On my way out, I pretended to just sorta just now recognize her and chat with her for about a minute and a half, and then when I got home and looked in a mirror, I realized she had been pretending not to notice the big fucking garish gob of whipped cream hanging from my fucking nose.

05 June 2005
- - Word of the Week - -


Pronounced: “HO muh GAND ee”

Houghmagandy is a Scottish word for fornication.


03 June 2005

2001 National Poetry Slam Indy Champ and Def Poetry Jam O.G. Mayda del Valle, chillin’ in the kitchen at Da Poetry Lounge.

The water heater behind her is powered by Mayda’s mambo mojo, and it can heat the whole theater for three minutes.