Mrs. Rufus Osgood Mason, Where Are You When I Need You???

I want a patron. 

Not a sugar daddy like the grandpa in Fantastic Thrift who promised he would take care of my student loans after a sad rendition of Sugar Pie Honey Pie which he followed me around the store singing until I couldn’t ignore the—well I guess you could call it an—advance.  And not like the little thug boy who wanted to buy my affection with Akademics, Baby Phat, and Ecko Red he copped on those suspect runs to his hometown in Jersey.   Even in high school I knew I wanted more than that.
 But a sponsor, like the ones of the Harlem Renaissance, to support my prolific (well not so much lately since I have to hold down a—gasp!—job to get the bills paid) and profound artistry.  Okay so maybe not that profound either.  But still…   

I read Steven Corbin’s No Easy Place to Be in high school and dreamt, for the next years, of a Harlem Renaissance type of lifestyle.  You know: literary salons, jazz, and race men.   I know, I know: how limited was my view of such a powerful era.  But it was more than that.

My new millennium version played out in a couple of ciphers—one in a boy named Craig’s living room; another at an ill fated poetry spot on the corner of 18th and Main.  They were hopeful little shenanigans; all of us sure we were gonna “make it” (whatever that meant)  and that these were times we should record for documentaries about how it (whatever It was) all started.

There were a lot of silver bangles then, rim shot heavy music, incense…  And race men who wore olive green, called me “sister” and mentored little boys at the basketball courts.  I dated a couple only to find that they were more boys than men themselves.  All dreams, drive—even talent—and sperm without a plan.    

Were it not for the overwhelming value I place on honesty, healthy and whole children and not quite a little penchant for my dad’s pork bacon, pop and gospel standards, and my short term memory, I might well have still been caught up in those aquarian risings.  Broke, wild(er) haired, and (well maybe I might’ve been) happy.

Which is not to say that the dream has been lost on me.  I still wanna make intelligent and sensitive/conjure up the desire to live past circumstance/capitalize on the best of us/ while the rest of us are labeled and stabled into internment camps called ghettos/with passbooks…(get stopped without your id and you might be the next Tyisha Miller/somebody over your body crying/why’d you have to kill her…)/nine months of swollen ankles and can’t-see-my-feet might well be the solution/ not  some mythic revolution discussed on podiums/practiced only in theory…

And my jazz, well I’m kinda like Nina Simone—getting along without you very well/except when soft winds blow and I remember my faded black kurta blowing in a late night summer breeze as Patrick, Makeda, and I laughed outside the café waiting for someone passing by to care about poetry too.  Stop through.  Those corners no longer hold the same appeal though.  Kurtas are cool, laughter is probably best when shared, and clearly people like chilling at the hottest poetry spot.  Maybe that one just wasn’t that hot.

But it’s mostly when I have some big artist-y dream and no cash to see it through that I re-dream that dream.  See, I just got an opportunity to study creative writing and culture in Kenya and I don’t just want—I need–a patron to fund the trip! 

I just haven’t figured out how to make the dream sound any less limited than was my initial view of the Renaissance.  As it was so much more; as our rhyming hopes and dreams around the couch–sometimes a little tipsy–were so much more; as the rim shots and Him saying, “that’s peace,” as Nag Champa smoke wafted in the air; a respectable couch cushion of space between us, this opportunity is so much more.          

 
 
 
 

 

 

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