Sunday Jul 14

TroupeQuincy Quincy Troupe is the author of seventeen books, including eight volumes of poetry, the latest of which is The Architecture of Language, recipient of the 2007 Paterson Award for Sustained Literary Achievement. He received the 2003 Milt Kessler Poetry Award for Transcircularities: New and selected Poems (Coffee House Press, 2002), selected by Publishers Weekly as one of the ten best books of poetry published in 2002. Troupe is the co-author of Miles: the Autobiography, with Miles Davis, and The Pursuit of Happyness, with Chris Gardner. He is also the author of the memoir Miles and Me, soon to be a major motion picture, for which he wrote the screenplay. Troupe’s new volume of poetry, Erranceties, will be published by Coffee House Press in fall/winter, 2011. He is Professor Emeritus of Creative Writing and American and Caribbean Literature at the University of California, San Diego, was the first official Poet Laureate of the State of California, and is currently editor of Black Renaissance Noire, an academic, cultural, political and literary journal published by the Institute of African American Affairs at New York University.


Wooden Mouths

in oaxaca, eye heard melodious syllables rolling
supple from mouths of wooden flutes,
they bring to mind caressing breezes of caribbean alizes,
whispering rain showers, delicate as soft breath cooing,
easing from lips of sleeping babies, seductive as sweet tongues of lovers
probing moist & passionate inside mouths of people they adore,
eye listen as music from these flutes circle slowly, lyrical—
like fused bodies of lovers do doing the do—
serenading us through this fragrant, mysterious air
full of magic, in oaxaca,
we are gathered here around the venerable tule tree—
a tree some say is the oldest living thing on earth—
are shocked to see 20-foot-high veins evoking giant anaconda snakes
roping down the tree’s sides to the bottom of its trunk—
which legend says takes 30 people to surround with outstretched arms,
or 100 people standing side by side, shoulder to shoulder—
its snake-like veins stretching skyward bloom a green bouquet
from its womb underneath gravel & sand loam,
where the mixe people say the tree took root from a walking stick
one of their gods planted here way back when in the day—
it is magnificent, all these green leaves bunched on branches,
shaped into a gigantic emerald natural
afro hairdo, it is mysterious, absolutely stunning, magical even—
& it is still growing next to the red, white & blue
catholic santa maria del tule church,
with its ornate spanish twin bell towers on display
conquistadors built back in the 17th century—
they show influence of spain’s islamic moorish roots—
eye look around & see growing next to the tule tree
round & transparent hairy plants they call the “old man’s balls”
& think, perhaps, people were doing the do
underneath this wondrous tree back then,  a woman’s legs wrapped around
a man’s shoulder’s, or back, while he was busy plunging deep around
& around in her wet, sucking vice-like grip,
his two balls wrapped in the skin of a scrotum swinging steady
in hot oaxaca air, like replicas of steel balls in newton’s cradle—
minus three—set in a frame on someone’s desk,
now eye return to listening to the sighing music
rolling through oaxaca’s magical air around the looming sacred tule tree—
many call it the montezuma cypress—& hear ancient voices
whispering bloody history into my ears, sighing
whispering & licking like a tongue probing
into the vagina opening of my receiving ear
Sitting on my Veranda facing the Caribbean Sea; for Derek
eye sit on my veranda in goyave, listen to voices serenading,
climbing out of foaming waves of the caribbean sea,
eye hear them suds on shore murmuring of apocalyptic histories
clashing with truth, sands & rocks tickle naked toes of swimmers
lying on beaches, dreaming here, perhaps, of strolling electric
streets hip in amber light, holding hands as lovers in paris,
new york city—wherever their dreams carry them to magic,
it is november, right before hypnotic darkness falls
with its bejeweled black cape sweeping over the sky with flair,
then a flourish of cicadas & crickets come out rubbing legs against
each other with passion, join choirs of frogs in a symphony swelling
the night with orchestral compositions of wonder—they remind
of lyrical casuarinas - fused with voices of birds whispering, songs
of tree leaves bowed by wind-tongues sound as if they were
violins until they sing beautifully with melodies,
from below, traffic music of passing cars climb into my ears
drummed from highway one, mix spinning rubber tires, wash them
into whooshing thrush of charging engines trailing off with distance
as  they disappear down the plunging road into the darkness—
& eye ask myself are they going into a quick death of wreckage
or a slow aging one of sagging flesh & cobwebbed memory,
a certainty we all have to rendezvous with sooner or later
if we breathe in this pessimistic air long enough—
eye turn from the echo chamber of my ears & look southeast,
toward st. lucia, where my old friend derek walcott lives
in a lovely house facing the caribbean sea also, & eye think of him
still writing his wondrous poems as he approaches his 80th birthday,
in January, 2010—we have known each other over half our lives
since 1968 when eye met him in los angeles, first read of trees
called casuarinas in one of his poems, loved the sound of the word ever since—
eye hear his lyrical hydraulic poetic voice
dripping syllables evoking a dance,
rhythms of sea waves & wind washing in,
as now eye hear the sea’s dance, it is 3am here
& the rooster next door begins his ritual a little early
of crowing down the sun from the darkness,
it is misty now, whispers of rain falling,
though frogs & crickets still make frenzied music,
soon the day will come waking us from sleep again
& we will perhaps catch a moment of beauty again
when we open our windows & light spills in
its radiance washing into our rooms
fresh with songs of birds, perhaps will bless us
in the new day with a gift of sun, perhaps a poem,
moments drenched with creativity & beauty
Connections # 2
eye look out my window, see the mangoes ripening
on the tree starting to block my view of the sea
as it grows larger, somewhere a man sits with a rifle
pointing it at someone’s head, or heart without sentiment,
without knowing who they are before killing them,
at the same moment a bird lifts off a branch
where an egg is hatching above the man
who just pulled the trigger, before someone else
who doesn’t know him locks in on his head—X marks
the spot on his forehead—with a rifle scope, pulls the trigger,
time is always changing across the globe, around the clock
seconds constantly moving tick tock about its face,
tick tock measures time, moves the bottom line
of the balance sheet, what do we really know of shifts,
crack crack happening in mini-seconds, onomatopoeia
clocking intervals brief as what senses recognize
when music changes tempo, rhythm moves the body,
somewhere else a fault line shifts ground underneath our feet,
deep beneath the earth there is movement, violence
we will not know until we see dirt opening up
in front of us, concrete streets, sidewalks splitting,
shaking buildings to rubble, is a message from God
connecting us all to an awesome, avenging power
what are the connections between people waging war,
who have never met each other in the flesh,
who drop bombs on people making love in their bedrooms,
drop bombs on children playing in their own back yards,
doom doom from somewhere high in the blues, doom doom
explosions because someone said they are our enemies,
who said what to whom, what did they do to us
we didn’t do to them first before we doomed them
as in iraq, afghanistan, libya, panama,
why do they hate us so we said after blowbacks on 911,
there are connections that bind us each to our actions,
everywhere images cross wires in mini-second erranceties,
somewhere some/body is a walking time bomb
about to go off, explode, do whatever it takes
to destroy, at the same time a climbing wisteria
blossoms a purple drooping flower around santa fe,
at the foot of the sangre de christos (blood of the Christ)
mountains, spathiphyllum, blue hydrangeas bloom
in the sonora desert, a brightly beaded gila monster looms,
slowly hunts for small animals with a keen sense of smell
digs for bird eggs hidden underneath the sand
there are people who know secrets of balancing
competing agendas, who use words of ying & yang,
in the world all people are equally human,
everyone’s heart beats in their chests like metronomes
until they stop, most things in nature seem symmetrical
in their ferocious forces housing harmonious discord
as in an exploding volcano spewing lava,
a lioness runs down a wildebeest,
killing it in the serengeti ngorongoro crater,
anacondas crush, then swallow large dogs whole,
seems a-symmetrical until you consider
they have to eat too for survival,
is an act of mercy, perhaps, than killing for malice,
revenge, or murder because of skin color,
torturing for worshipping different gods,
slaughtering entire families for fear, anger,
with machine gun fire
is different than flames devouring dream-mansions
of those who live with nature in danger zones,
where rivers flood, conflagrations rage through hot zones,
though pain is the same for hearts who go back
to sift through ashes—their lives suddenly gone up in smoke,
swept away by surging rivers, tsunamis,
blown apart by hurricanes, tornado winds, earthquakes,
lives blown to smithereens by fear—compassion still is
the same here as an act of mercy
when our hearts embrace all possibilities
during moments of terrible pain most experience truth—
perhaps feel it deeply in their hearts—as a flash
of wisdom might pave the way to insight, beauty, or both,
perhaps is a life-changing force, as in the instant you know
death is truly possible, as daybreak will most certainly come—
if there is no world-ending conflagration—after darkness,
flowers at the bottom of the sky will bloom,
somewhere two people will make love with their hearts,
children will be born, old enemies may embrace differences,
life will go on in harmonious discord until it ends,
perhaps this is all we can dream of, hope for,
a few moments when there is clarity in our lives,
instances of mercy revealing beauty, truth,
as in seeing the mango tree growing outside my window,
beginning to ripen, delicious fruit hanging from its branches
blocks my view of the sea–though eye know its there anyway—
eye can be thankful high up in those branches birds sing
joyously every day, my heart sings with them
every time eye hear their music, the moment my eyes open,
eye breathe in whatever the day brings, time full of holy
acts profoundly impacts these sacred connections
we have with one another each to each,
these blessed gifts we share as in breathing—heart felt acts
of deep love pulsating every day as wondrous music

photo by Jerry Jack