the tale-end of my pdf chapbook...
shovelin’ dirt, my bullshit autobiographical body odor
(a Q and A session between a fool and his Orishas... or maybe a dream)
Elegbara: so... you’re gonna put all this shit off on us, hunh? the delusions,
the hallucinations, your penchant for bourbon poured over ice cream,
your OCD, the typos... you’re saying all of that is our fault?
brothadirt: (undecipherable mumbling)
Jesus: excuse me, but could you please lean into the microphone when answering.
brothadirt: (over feedback from fumbling, making adjustments to the mic)
-ammit, i SAID yes! you hear me now? whuuh... whuuh...
brothadirt's son Jordan, who lived 4 hours in 1988: daddy, please... dont blow into the mic.
i swair you have no home-training sometimes. embarrassin’.
Elegbara: brothadirt, elaborate.
brothadirt: “elaborate.” “elaborate.” “e... l... a... b...”
Yemoja: sir, this is not a spelling bee. Elegba was asking you to explain yourself.
brothadirt: oh. okay. gotcha. you know, i’ve been up all night making last minute edits
anshit. working on art. its kinda hard to concentrate at times. plus,
i see that Coyolxauhqui is watching one life to live and i’m trying not to
hear what’s happenin’ between Sammy and EJ... i have tivo and i’m wantin’ to
watch this later on when i get home.
Sun Ra: i pegged you as a young and the restless type of guy...
brothadirt: yes, i was raised young and restless. but after i met Crystal i converted.
(Sun Ra nods and Coyolxauhqui cuts the sound down)
brothadirt: “elaborate” - well, you all know what haunts me, but for the purposes of
establishing this on record, i’ll recant my testimony...
Yemoja: you mean “reiterate”... surely you’re not wanting to ‘disavow’ yourself.
and sir, could you please refrain from rolling your eyes. please.
brothadirt: sista, you KNOW i would never be that disrespectful to you; if it comes
across that way then please forgive me. i’ve got these moles around my
eyes and sometimes they itch. i was merely stretching my brow-muscles
trying to scratch my lids without touching my face. that make sense?
but you’re right... i didnt mean ‘recant’.
(googles for the correct definition of ‘reiterate’ on his blackberry)
well. i was born in louisville. kentucky.
Sun Ra: I OBJECT! you only think you were born in louisville, kentucky. but you,
my child, are a son of saturn. continue.
brothadirt: never been to saturn. but i’ve heard nice things. we always talkabout
retiring there someday. but i’ve been working part-time in a used-book
store since i moved to lexington, so, i think ‘retirement’ and ‘quitting’
will be one-and-the-same. i do think my moon was in saturn when i was
born, if that’s any consolation. but i’m jus’ guessing at that right now.
uh, i ramble. you all know that.
i have no problem with yall prodding me to get the answers you want.
i have a movie-date with Crystal when she gets home and i sorely need
to shower and put some smellgood on.
Fela Kuti: rambling is beautiful. it’s okay for your stage presence to carry on and on
for days at a time.
Elegbara: (shakes head... sighs... drops head into palms, turns to some of the blues
men on the panel for support)
(Junior Kimbrough just shrugs. Muddy Waters is smoking reefer and drinking
champaign and defers to John Lee Hooker, himself drinking a beer;
John Lee looks up, taps cigarette ashes into a tray, then waves his the
back of his hand in brothadirt’s general direction.)
John Lee: uh... boogie on, children.
brothadirt: yes... yes. i will. thank you sir for your eloquence. let me just say how much
i deeply admire tonight’s entire panel.
(nods to Romare, Ahmose of Egypt’s 18th Dynasty, Lucille Clifton,
and the other honored Egungun held in high esteem)
let me start at the beginning:
my government name is ronald davis.
in keeping to the time honored tradition of my african, native american
and hip-hop-emcee ancestors, i changed my name to ‘upfromsumdirt’
taking from an old poem i wrote in which i figuratively said
“i’m up from some dirt, like a pyramid.”
back when i was starting to truly come into my own natural voice
as a descendent-looking-in of the black arts movement.
(grabs mic, stands up, motions to the background singers to cue up)
as you all know and i’m REITERATING (thumbs up sign to sistaYemoja) i’m haunted by africa-america’s lack in mythological narrative. i cant imagine sitting down to tuck my grandchildren into bed telling them origin-stories that begin with
“and the heaven’s opened up, a gang-plank descended, and out stepped america’s black-assed-children-of-God in chains and shackles.” (shudders)
every child needs to know they come from somewhere magical. mythological. my own motto has been for years “a people without the science to turn their folktales into tradition are not respected by the world at large as an empowered people or a culture to be recognized, worthy of romanticism.” i mean, sometimes i dont say it like that... the words change at times, but that’s the gist of it. i just added ‘romanticism’, but yeah. that.
so as an artist, i’m always attempting to fill in the void - not the definitive historical stuff, because others are already doing so. my job as a black creative (and i have to be “a black creative” because there is still a need for us to champion an honorable black aesthetic. the art and sciences we create are still lumped under the label of second-hand-citizenry, we still tend to draw from the european classics while ignoring the vast volumes of africa’s and africa-america’s largely ignored narratives. black bookstores are gone. black newspapers have bitten the dust. our black magazines are owned by non-black foreigners and this is truly acceptable under america’s assimilated lifestyle.
a lifestyle that is based on universal-liberalism (in vision, not in practice) that is still based on the traditions of those who only know ‘black art’ by way of the media, grade school, and/or stereotype-as-the-easy-answer.
Granmama Lizzie: all this talkn is makin’ my stomach hurt. yall niggas are gonna mess around and make me late for bingo, shit.
still dirt: i mean, even black folks hold these common beliefs about their own culture, because it is something that is fed to us from our t.v. sets and internet connections, not something that is raised organically within our own homes... so we shrug and say, “well, if they say this is how black people™ are on t.v., then who am i to say otherwise. and where are those visibly acknowledging an alternative or counter- position?” the internet is cool, but the information existing on it is transient and always in flux as information is transferred from one-cool-website-to-the-next-one.
then it all fizzles, begins again. momentums are lost. the calvary only comes for ‘the assimilated us’ and never for those of us attempting to master the serious-concept.
and when it does swing low to carry us, it is never to the homes we recognize or hope for. in this extra-digital era, the most lasting truth is the one you can touch and hold.
america holds onto its cellphones more than anything else. you can maintain an informed culture this way, but its difficult, in my opinion, to achieve an academic culture using digital technology as our reference guides.
Jam Master Jay: so what is your position on the state of hiphop these days? can you
elaborate about the disappearance of the urban dj in rap culture?
brothadirt: man, now you’re askin me to say sumshit. i aint got that kinda time. this is
a chapbook, afterall. i’m already nearing 30 pages and my internet
provider says i’m dangerously close to going over the bandwidth levels
previously authorized. but yeah, hiphop sucks, fareal.
Elegbara: you tip the scales at 270 pounds with your fat ass... you still claiming to be a
vegetarian? my concerns are incredulous.
brothadirt: i’ll have words with you later out back.
Elegbara: dont bring a knife, you know how i roll. so if your ‘words’ for me dont
begin with “you know, i was way out of line” then we might be talkn’
‘final words’ here. you hear me?
brothadirt: yes, suh. i hear you.
Elegbara: it wasnt even a question.
Zora: gentlemen, mind the testosterone levels, please. the warning signal is flashing.
(both parties suck their teeth)
Father Ptah: i think this is a good time to end this meeting. let’s adjourn until
tomorrow and then resume the interro, the interview, tomorrow between
9 and 10. (slams gavel)
(Elegbara pulls upfromsumdirt aside, his rough hand clasping harshly the nape of brothadirt’s neck)
Elegbara: i got my eye on you fatboy.
brothadirt: i wouldnt have it any other way...
Elegbara: as it should be.
• by law, they exchange dap. cellphones begin whirling; laptops are booted up;
everyone retreats to their own respective shadows...
Elegbara stops in his tracks, turns and hollers back in dirt’s direction... wants to know
if Granmama Lizzie is seein’ anybody. thinks twice about it/waves dirt off...
Penumbra-Prime decides to handle his interests hisself.
Elegbara: hey, sistaLizzie... you need a ride to bingo? i got camels... or a cadillac,
if that’s what you’d prefer. i can take you where you want, i got keys.
i know a good place for catfish. i know a place where the coffee is good.
everywhere i go i get a real good reception.... join me sista,
jus’ join me.