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Be-Side

The Home of Hakm's B-Side e-alter ego...his auxiliary brain or external hard drive...

Inaugural class of WKKF Community Leadership Network convenes in Battle Creek - W.K. Kellogg Foundation

Fresh off of an incredibly successful run of the Harper Lee Classic, To Kill a Mockingbird with the Albuquerque Little Theater, and the announcement of the 2014 Tillie Olsen Award for Creative Writing from the Working Class Studies Association, I return to a home that I know well, The University of New Mexico.  Tomorrow (May 6, 2014) I will join the students of the UNM Honors College in their Legacy of American Drama classes at 11 and 12:30. We will discuss, we will share, we will learn. Thank you, Maria Szasz for placing me in front of the youth, yet again. 

Fresh off of an incredibly successful run of the Harper Lee Classic, To Kill a Mockingbird with the Albuquerque Little Theater, and the announcement of the 2014 Tillie Olsen Award for Creative Writing from the Working Class Studies Association, I return to a home that I know well, The University of New Mexico.  Tomorrow (May 6, 2014) I will join the students of the UNM Honors College in their Legacy of American Drama classes at 11 and 12:30. We will discuss, we will share, we will learn. Thank you, Maria Szasz for placing me in front of the youth, yet again. 

As official as it gets.  

As official as it gets.  

I’m super proud to announce that my first book, SWEAR has led to the 2014 Tillie Olsen Award in Creative Writing from the Working Class Studies Association.  Thank you to West End Press for taking a risk on a brother BEFORE he was named Poet Laureate of Albuquerque, to UNM Press for being a fine distributor, and to 35 years of people and experiences that have helped me to write this book.  It’s a great honor to accept this award because of who Tillie Olsen was, an American writer associated with the political turmoil of the 1930’s and the first generation of American feminists. 
And finally, Thank you to Albuquerque for purchasing so many copies of this book that we are in out second run, only a year after it was first published.

I’m super proud to announce that my first book, SWEAR has led to the 2014 Tillie Olsen Award in Creative Writing from the Working Class Studies Association.  Thank you to West End Press for taking a risk on a brother BEFORE he was named Poet Laureate of Albuquerque, to UNM Press for being a fine distributor, and to 35 years of people and experiences that have helped me to write this book.  It’s a great honor to accept this award because of who Tillie Olsen was, an American writer associated with the political turmoil of the 1930’s and the first generation of American feminists. 

And finally, Thank you to Albuquerque for purchasing so many copies of this book that we are in out second run, only a year after it was first published.

My thoughts for today…
And my thoughts from yesterday (re-posted from Facebook):
So, I’m not at the rally right now, I’m at rehearsal. Maybe because cops and civilians have gotten away with extreme and unnecessary force on Black people for years. Call me a little desensitized even… But I do have these thoughts. When one Black person is engaged in a criminal act, ALL Black people become criminal by default in the eye of the non-Black public. It’s how institutional racism perverts a person’s sense of perception. But when one (or five) police officers gun down a sick, homeless person because they are essentially “afraid” of him and his pocket knife…while they are armed to the teeth (or their dog’s teeth). But then, folks whose interests are in bed with police officers (pun intended) hide behind radio call in shows and social media pages come to the defense of cops, because not ALL cops are bad cops. All I have to say to that is THIS is how institutional corruption perverts a person’s (this persons) sense of perception…by default. Do I believe in good cops, sure. I’ve met one or two in my lifetime, if there are SO many more of them, then I think there’d be a lil’ bit more whistleblowing than sirens blaring from the boys in blue. #OneBadAppleSpoilsTheAPD #AndThereIsWAYMoreThanOne
#meThinks

My thoughts for today…

And my thoughts from yesterday (re-posted from Facebook):

So, I’m not at the rally right now, I’m at rehearsal. Maybe because cops and civilians have gotten away with extreme and unnecessary force on Black people for years. Call me a little desensitized even…

But I do have these thoughts. When one Black person is engaged in a criminal act, ALL Black people become criminal by default in the eye of the non-Black public. It’s how institutional racism perverts a person’s sense of perception. But when one (or five) police officers gun down a sick, homeless person because they are essentially “afraid” of him and his pocket knife…while they are armed to the teeth (or their dog’s teeth). But then, folks whose interests are in bed with police officers (pun intended) hide behind radio call in shows and social media pages come to the defense of cops, because not ALL cops are bad cops. All I have to say to that is THIS is how institutional corruption perverts a person’s (this persons) sense of perception…by default. Do I believe in good cops, sure. I’ve met one or two in my lifetime, if there are SO many more of them, then I think there’d be a lil’ bit more whistleblowing than sirens blaring from the boys in blue. #OneBadAppleSpoilsTheAPD #AndThereIsWAYMoreThanOne

#meThinks

Real friends are not afraid to have difficult discussions…sometimes, they just choose not to. Sometimes, they decide that just being a friend is enough. A haiku from something a learned today…a lesson the universe has been trying to teach me for some time. The people you really care about make you see yourself…make you love yourself…and sometimes, when you don’t, they love YOU for YOU. - hb

Real friends are not afraid to have difficult discussions…sometimes, they just choose not to. Sometimes, they decide that just being a friend is enough. A haiku from something a learned today…a lesson the universe has been trying to teach me for some time. The people you really care about make you see yourself…make you love yourself…and sometimes, when you don’t, they love YOU for YOU. - hb

https://www.facebook.com/vetvisions/info
A forum for New Mexico Veterans and their loved ones to express and connect.

Description
This Facebook page is being launched in conjunction with a Veteran music benefit being organized by mim.fm. The event will take place near Memorial Day. The intent of the page is to give voice to the Vet community and to facilitate connection and healing through the sharing of personal expression as well as information about local resources.  Any expression in any media (visual art, photography, videos, music, prose, poetry, spoken word, etc), may be posted as long as the work is not offensive to individuals or groups, and not too disturbing. We understand we are talking about art, and as such this can be a gray area. We will accept a broad spectrum of expression, but reserve the right to remove material that crosses a line, in our judgment.  If there are resources you wish to share for the benefit of the vet community such as healing programs, employment and training opportunities and basic needs resources, please feel free. 
Thank you Ian Mentken (organizer) for giving me the opportunity to participate from a far (since I am on poetry sabbatical and engaging in self care/rejuvenation on the event date). Here is the poem he asked me to dedicate to my brothers and sisters who have served. I thank you for your service and this is for you and my Uncle Charles Gause who served in Vietnam (and my father who was a Marine but never did a tour of combat).



As legend would have it… by hakim bellamy

 

No one really remembers how long he stood there.

How long Black soldiers stood on the shore

of the Chesapeake Bay. How long the heart burst

like bombs. How many stars shy of a pennant.

How many stars short of glory. Approximately 35.

 

Young. I was 15. The exact age (in stars) of Old Glory

at the time Francis Scott Key penned the song

that made every single person in that ballpark

rise at the same time. For at least one minute

and eighteen seconds, everyone is standing.

 

Even the millionaires on the green,

Even the billionaires in the boxes, who own

the very seats we stand in front of, out of respect.

But my uncle is a Vet. And though the ramparts in his memory

shock and awe, they will never Berlin.

 

So his minute, became ten…twenty…thirty…thirty-five…

The first time he flinched, was a foul tip that cracked

Louisville in half like the Ohio River. It sounded like gunshots.

Or fireworks. Or both. And that was the first time

his knees buckled in three innings. People started to worry.

 

As they often do, when they see young soldiers, off base,

with guns but without fatigues. As they often do,

when they see ex-soldiers on corners, with cardboard

but without fatigues. As they often don’t…

at any other time. Unless it’s sweeps week

and some exec thinks war is good for ratings.

 

When he finally at-eased, his left peck resembled

a starfish of crumpled shirt. You could see his fingerprints.

Deep, like he was palming his way through a seizure.

Grapefruit in hand. I asked him what our team needed to do,

in order to get out of the 4 to 5 quagmire we created?

Just to see how much of the game he could stand.

 

And he just said something about Fort M’Henry.

About the 1918 World Series and why he is afraid of that song.

How it sounds like a shelling, every time we sing it.

And why he stood for thirty-five minutes staring at a fuckin’ flag

Just as those that came before him did on the shores of Baltimore

the morning after.

 

Relieved. Glad it was over. Happy that it was finally quiet enough

for lawyers who moonlight as poets to write poems,

for a band of brothers, a social club of merry men to sing songs.

For us barely caring enough remember the first verse, and forget

the other three. Just like “Lift Every Voice And Sing,”

and call ourselves free.

 

© Hakim Bellamy March 25, 2014

HEAR ME READING THIS POEM AT MY BANDCAMP:
http://hakimbe.bandcamp.com/track/as-legend-would-have-it

https://www.facebook.com/vetvisions/info

A forum for New Mexico Veterans and their loved ones to express and connect.
Description

This Facebook page is being launched in conjunction with a Veteran music benefit being organized by mim.fm. The event will take place near Memorial Day. The intent of the page is to give voice to the Vet community and to facilitate connection and healing through the sharing of personal expression as well as information about local resources.

Any expression in any media (visual art, photography, videos, music, prose, poetry, spoken word, etc), may be posted as long as the work is not offensive to individuals or groups, and not too disturbing. We understand we are talking about art, and as such this can be a gray area. We will accept a broad spectrum of expression, but reserve the right to remove material that crosses a line, in our judgment.

If there are resources you wish to share for the benefit of the vet community such as healing programs, employment and training opportunities and basic needs resources, please feel free.

Thank you Ian Mentken (organizer) for giving me the opportunity to participate from a far (since I am on poetry sabbatical and engaging in self care/rejuvenation on the event date). Here is the poem he asked me to dedicate to my brothers and sisters who have served. I thank you for your service and this is for you and my Uncle Charles Gause who served in Vietnam (and my father who was a Marine but never did a tour of combat).

As legend would have it… by hakim bellamy

 

No one really remembers how long he stood there.

How long Black soldiers stood on the shore

of the Chesapeake Bay. How long the heart burst

like bombs. How many stars shy of a pennant.

How many stars short of glory. Approximately 35.

 

Young. I was 15. The exact age (in stars) of Old Glory

at the time Francis Scott Key penned the song

that made every single person in that ballpark

rise at the same time. For at least one minute

and eighteen seconds, everyone is standing.

 

Even the millionaires on the green,

Even the billionaires in the boxes, who own

the very seats we stand in front of, out of respect.

But my uncle is a Vet. And though the ramparts in his memory

shock and awe, they will never Berlin.

 

So his minute, became ten…twenty…thirty…thirty-five…

The first time he flinched, was a foul tip that cracked

Louisville in half like the Ohio River. It sounded like gunshots.

Or fireworks. Or both. And that was the first time

his knees buckled in three innings. People started to worry.

 

As they often do, when they see young soldiers, off base,

with guns but without fatigues. As they often do,

when they see ex-soldiers on corners, with cardboard

but without fatigues. As they often don’t…

at any other time. Unless it’s sweeps week

and some exec thinks war is good for ratings.

 

When he finally at-eased, his left peck resembled

a starfish of crumpled shirt. You could see his fingerprints.

Deep, like he was palming his way through a seizure.

Grapefruit in hand. I asked him what our team needed to do,

in order to get out of the 4 to 5 quagmire we created?

Just to see how much of the game he could stand.

 

And he just said something about Fort M’Henry.

About the 1918 World Series and why he is afraid of that song.

How it sounds like a shelling, every time we sing it.

And why he stood for thirty-five minutes staring at a fuckin’ flag

Just as those that came before him did on the shores of Baltimore

the morning after.

 

Relieved. Glad it was over. Happy that it was finally quiet enough

for lawyers who moonlight as poets to write poems,

for a band of brothers, a social club of merry men to sing songs.

For us barely caring enough remember the first verse, and forget

the other three. Just like “Lift Every Voice And Sing,”

and call ourselves free.

 

© Hakim Bellamy March 25, 2014

HEAR ME READING THIS POEM AT MY BANDCAMP:

http://hakimbe.bandcamp.com/track/as-legend-would-have-it

This. Is what I am. ‘78 Baby. #GoldenAge

This. Is what I am. ‘78 Baby. #GoldenAge

*Audio of me reading the poem here.


Gorgeous George (for Muhammad Ali)


Dear Champ,

you were our Gorgeous George,

Black Vegas,

a warrior

who would wear our Black

and die for our skins



you were not humble

you were everything we were not allowed

to be

like pretty, so pretty

 

you were rich, loud

and on TV

 

a hero in the flesh

even when you turned your front lawn

into a drive-in

for the neighborhood children,

from TV-less homes

your personality towered

over the big screen

 

you could illuminate an arena

light it up

before you knocked their lights out

 

our gold medal flower

a bronzed Adonis

live and direct from Olympic Rome

full blooming as soon as you got home

to a country that would not recognize

your rose

 

when Burdines Department Store

didn’t allow your kind

to try on their clothes

you should have given them the shirt off your back

and showed them your belt

 

Champ,

you were never one for being whipped

that is why I am left speechless

watching you tremble

for the beatings you took in our ‘stead

the racism you couldn’t out run

the slavery you couldn’t duck

the hate you couldn’t punch

 

…

 

but then,

I remember how you could never shut up

a poet in a sea of fists

you are the same reason so many colored boys

choose life in the ring

because it was the one place

you could control your environment

and our imagination

 

more than fast hands

you were unbelievable feats

the only A-lister in Miami

without a drip of drug or drink

more pugilist than pimp, married to the game

never an adulterer of the sport

so abstinent they thought you were gay

so obstinate they thought you were crazy

 

like my teenage students do,

when I tell them you were clean

 

because it’s hard to believe that you were that disciplined

before Allah made you

Muhammad Ali

before Holmes, Frazier and Spinks

before Foreman and Foster

Sonny Liston and Sonny Banks

Your mouth made you transparent

cause Lord knows

Having a glass jaw was never quite your thing

 

you told the world you were a minister

and you went to the mat for what you believed

loved your country enough, to raise your hands for money

but not enough to raise a gun

for anybody

 

you painted canvasses

with your own blood, sweat and fears

for our pleasure

and because you knew the real enemy

they didn’t let you fight for three years

 

you said you lost nothing

gained everything

like “peace of mind”

and that’s when you became our hero

 

the greatest that ever lived

and it had nothing to do with who you hit

but who you didn’t…

 

you shook up the world

and it’s still shaking

all those hits you took for us

now you’re still shaking

 

and I pray

the best prayer I know how to pray

that you are teaching us your dance

 

teaching us how to love

with our hands

 

how to not fight

when we have to

 

you taught us the butterflies

and the bees

you told the American government

 

No,

I’m not.

 

not who you think I am

not who you want me to be

 

you told them

you have a new name

and when they wouldn’t say it

you made them read it

 

we like to pretend fighters ain’t smart

but you’re a genius

so all that

to say this…

 

Dear Champ,

your black fist

taught me the difference

between fight and forfeit  

 

that Black is MORE than beautiful

Black is gorgeous.


© 2014 Hakim Bellamy

Written for and delivered at the The Trials of Muhammad Ali Albuquerque Premier Screening at Guild Cinema on January 21st, 2014

Photo Credit: Ali Underwater, Miami, 1961. © Flip Schulke Archives

*Audio of me reading the poem here.

Gorgeous George (for Muhammad Ali)

Dear Champ,

you were our Gorgeous George,

Black Vegas,

a warrior

who would wear our Black

and die for our skins

you were not humble

you were everything we were not allowed

to be

like pretty, so pretty

 

you were rich, loud

and on TV

 

a hero in the flesh

even when you turned your front lawn

into a drive-in

for the neighborhood children,

from TV-less homes

your personality towered

over the big screen

 

you could illuminate an arena

light it up

before you knocked their lights out

 

our gold medal flower

a bronzed Adonis

live and direct from Olympic Rome

full blooming as soon as you got home

to a country that would not recognize

your rose

 

when Burdines Department Store

didn’t allow your kind

to try on their clothes

you should have given them the shirt off your back

and showed them your belt

 

Champ,

you were never one for being whipped

that is why I am left speechless

watching you tremble

for the beatings you took in our ‘stead

the racism you couldn’t out run

the slavery you couldn’t duck

the hate you couldn’t punch

 

 

but then,

I remember how you could never shut up

a poet in a sea of fists

you are the same reason so many colored boys

choose life in the ring

because it was the one place

you could control your environment

and our imagination

 

more than fast hands

you were unbelievable feats

the only A-lister in Miami

without a drip of drug or drink

more pugilist than pimp, married to the game

never an adulterer of the sport

so abstinent they thought you were gay

so obstinate they thought you were crazy

 

like my teenage students do,

when I tell them you were clean

 

because it’s hard to believe that you were that disciplined

before Allah made you

Muhammad Ali

before Holmes, Frazier and Spinks

before Foreman and Foster

Sonny Liston and Sonny Banks

Your mouth made you transparent

cause Lord knows

Having a glass jaw was never quite your thing

 

you told the world you were a minister

and you went to the mat for what you believed

loved your country enough, to raise your hands for money

but not enough to raise a gun

for anybody

 

you painted canvasses

with your own blood, sweat and fears

for our pleasure

and because you knew the real enemy

they didn’t let you fight for three years

 

you said you lost nothing

gained everything

like “peace of mind”

and that’s when you became our hero

 

the greatest that ever lived

and it had nothing to do with who you hit

but who you didn’t…

 

you shook up the world

and it’s still shaking

all those hits you took for us

now you’re still shaking

 

and I pray

the best prayer I know how to pray

that you are teaching us your dance

 

teaching us how to love

with our hands

 

how to not fight

when we have to

 

you taught us the butterflies

and the bees

you told the American government

 

No,

I’m not.

 

not who you think I am

not who you want me to be

 

you told them

you have a new name

and when they wouldn’t say it

you made them read it

 

we like to pretend fighters ain’t smart

but you’re a genius

so all that

to say this…

 

Dear Champ,

your black fist

taught me the difference

between fight and forfeit 

 

that Black is MORE than beautiful

Black is gorgeous.

© 2014 Hakim Bellamy

Written for and delivered at the The Trials of Muhammad Ali Albuquerque Premier Screening at Guild Cinema on January 21st, 2014

Photo Credit: Ali Underwater, Miami, 1961. © Flip Schulke Archives