Bringing in the New Year with My Bongos

by on January 9, 2013 · 0 comments

in Civil Rights, Culture, From the Soul, History

My bongos6

On New Year’s Eve
as I sat quietly
in my easy chair,
out of thin air
from a place called nowhere,
Maxi, my cat,
skittered across me
in the middle of my ease,
creating a little breeze,
landing on the mantle over the fireplace
with a couple of tip taps of her feet
and I picked up the beat
and patted rhythms on my thighs
and on my knees
and my bongos
and the next thing I know
I’m scatting jazz riffs like a cross
between Lambert Hendricks and Ross
and Satchmo
and humming sounds
one might hear from
the deepest notes of a bass oboe,
just going with what
was nice and mellow,
yielding to the love in my soul,
glad to be 74 years old,
having made it without
losing control
when back not so long ago
I had to deal with Jim Crow
and all his jiveass Yee Ha rigmarole.
My bongos2To that, I hit some nice clean
bippities and boppities
and bip bops on my drums
in an ongoing celebration
of the end of that
Hidy-Hi-Hidy-Ho
real life way un-funny Minstrel Show – so
caught up in my own self’s
one man show,
drifting off with the flow
of images that rose
in my mind,
leaving old thoughts behind,
seeing them, in a breath, drift away
to a better day,
like when Martin Luther King
showed us how to love and dream
and Malcolm X
told us the truth step by step
and H. Rap Brown
hipped us to what was going down,
and Stokely Carmichael
let “the man” know he was not clown – ing,
that he was a man
and a man was born free,
and Jesse, oh Jesse,
Jesse Jackson.
My bongos3He gave me goose pimples every time he’d run.
He kept on putting his hat in the ring.
And I can’t tell you how that made my heart sing,
opening my thinking about a number of things,
possibilities and potentialities
of the old giving way to new realities
and lo and behold
Nelson Mandela
was set free
and rose to be president
of the most hateful of societies,
bringing truth
as a means for folks to eventually get along
with everybody feeling they belonged,
that they had a verse
in a love song
erasing lyrics from a life
that was like a
hang your head down and cry
nobody loves me blues song.
Oh, everybody be somebody when freedom rings.
Oh, I love to indulge in such ponderings.

And the beat went on
in the background
of flashes of my lifetime,
in then and now frames:
then I played shootem up games, now I see war and the like as a shame;
then I hoped to just make the team; now I’m on the All-Century Team, hailed as a legend and I don’t really know what that means but I’m not complaining if you know what I mean;
then I was exposed to artful ways; now I live in the right side of my brain every minute of every day;
then my friends were bright and funny and nice; now, when I look at whom I’m around, I could say the same thing twice;
then it seemed natural to fight for justice and liberty; now I still hit the streets to change what troubles me;

then I somewhat believed that what was before me was real,
that we might shuffle the cards but we don’t get to deal;
but now I know that is absolutely the real deal.
My bongos4Oh, how I know that’s true, as memories, as I played, of almost losing my oldest daughter came to the fore. No reality, other than losing my Nancy has chilled me to my core more. The music in me slowed as I forced myself to cast aside all of my glorious thoughts and come to grips with how this precious being’s struggle goes on, yet to be won, as she finds it hard to dedicate herself to moving on.

See, we have to endure the sad storms as well as the refreshing rains,
the lovely and the blights in life, the joys and the pains,
don’t we?
But the pursuit of happiness remains our individual domain
and I couldn’t help but reflect
about what a lucky man I am,
as I ended my jam,
what with my beautiful offspring,
what with life’s amazing offerings,
what with my traveling.
I could thank the Milky Way
forever for where I am today,
for its gifts to me.
Oh, there I was grieving
after losing the woman of my life,
a woman so beautiful and bright,
her death
leaving me bereft
of the slightest notion
that I could ever again exist in such a wonderful reality
as the one enjoyed by her and me;
My bongos5but then, oh, golly gee (I didn’t know I had such words inside of me),
this woman showed up one day,
got a strangle hold – of the good kind – on me,
and let me know that she,
having lost a love, too, knew
what it was like
going through what I had been through
and we sensed each other’s needs
and somewhere in there she became my squeeze,
and I’m just happy to be alive,
on this New Year’s Eve,
patting rhythms on my thighs
and on my bongos and on my knees-

realizing that some times we just need
reasons to breathe.

Happy New Year
to all of humanity.

My bongos7

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