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Be-Side

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

Yeah. I’m more excited than a tweenage girl meeting Miley Cyrus! So what. I was interviewed by a titan of journalism and Black culture last week. I am humbled and honored to share it with you all!

Here is the program at Tavis Smiley Radio:

http://www.tavissmileyradio.com/hakim-bellamy-albuquerque-poet-laureate/

And here is the Facebook link (pictured above), let Tavis know how you felt about our interview! (You can also Tweet him at @TavisSmiley Re: @HakimBe)!

https://www.facebook.com/TavisTalks/posts/10152558925931278?comment_id=10152563591231278&notif_t=comment_mention#

All it took was a mention (by name) from Dr. Nikki Giovanni on Tavis’s TV Show back in November and a chance meeting of Tavis and my West End Press publicist Amanda Sutton in New York…and God did the rest.

Thank you and I love you all. - hb

So…I get asked to write a poem for the student body at Piñon Elementary School in Santa Fe for their Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration on Friday, January 17th. I say yes…namely because I like little people and I like Dr. King. So, I begin investigating angles with which to approach Dr. King’s life that would make for a “good” poem for elementary school age students.

Mind you, I still had to come up with another Dr. King poem for my 6th straight year as part of the Amy Biehl High School Day of Service (in line with the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. National Day of Service initiative). That poem would need to be on its feet, so to speak, by Monday, January 20th. More in that later…
So after weeks of not liking anything I came up with, I had an epiphany on the treadmill at the gym. What if I write a poem about Dr. King as a youth? THEN, I thought what if I even addressed it to an 8 year-old Dr. King? THEN, I thought what if I addressed it to Dr. King at different ages, because we are all every age of every year we’ve lived at the same time like that poem Sandra Cisneros, Eleven?

I finally had an approach, so I began writing. And the poem started pouring out in chunks…but the more it grew…the more I knew it would not be appropriate (read: allowed) in an elementary school setting (read: I wouldn’t be ALLOWED to come back!). The poem was EXTREMELY political…like Dr. King and I…and some of the things I was talking about (like suicide attempts, terrorism, four-letter words and infidelity) weren’t pretty. So, of course, I finished the poem. Who am I to try and stop the muse when the faucet is on?

What I then decided to do was lift pieces out of this new poem that were suitable for younger audiences, and used those pieces as the foundation of a “separate but gentler” piece. The result was Ageless (written for Amy Biehl High School in Albuquerque) and Junior (written for Piñon Elementary School).
Please take a moment to read and/or listen to them below.
They are siblings of sorts.

Ageless http://hakimbe.bandcamp.com/track/ageless 

Junior http://hakimbe.bandcamp.com/track/junior

So…I get asked to write a poem for the student body at Piñon Elementary School in Santa Fe for their Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration on Friday, January 17th. I say yes…namely because I like little people and I like Dr. King. So, I begin investigating angles with which to approach Dr. King’s life that would make for a “good” poem for elementary school age students.

Mind you, I still had to come up with another Dr. King poem for my 6th straight year as part of the Amy Biehl High School Day of Service (in line with the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. National Day of Service initiative). That poem would need to be on its feet, so to speak, by Monday, January 20th. More in that later…

So after weeks of not liking anything I came up with, I had an epiphany on the treadmill at the gym. What if I write a poem about Dr. King as a youth? THEN, I thought what if I even addressed it to an 8 year-old Dr. King? THEN, I thought what if I addressed it to Dr. King at different ages, because we are all every age of every year we’ve lived at the same time like that poem Sandra Cisneros, Eleven?

I finally had an approach, so I began writing. And the poem started pouring out in chunks…but the more it grew…the more I knew it would not be appropriate (read: allowed) in an elementary school setting (read: I wouldn’t be ALLOWED to come back!). The poem was EXTREMELY political…like Dr. King and I…and some of the things I was talking about (like suicide attempts, terrorism, four-letter words and infidelity) weren’t pretty. So, of course, I finished the poem. Who am I to try and stop the muse when the faucet is on?

What I then decided to do was lift pieces out of this new poem that were suitable for younger audiences, and used those pieces as the foundation of a “separate but gentler” piece. The result was Ageless (written for Amy Biehl High School in Albuquerque) and Junior (written for Piñon Elementary School).

Please take a moment to read and/or listen to them below.

They are siblings of sorts.

Ageless http://hakimbe.bandcamp.com/track/ageless

Junior http://hakimbe.bandcamp.com/track/junior

Hear the audio of me reading

"From Mohandis K. Gandhi to Michael Luther King Jr."


From Mohandis K. Gandhi to Michael Luther King, Jr

image

Michael, I’m sorry

It’s not fair
At least I got to meet my grandchildren
Before my people turned on me

I should have told you
That satyagraha will get you killed

That your hugs and hope
Will end in an embrace of gunpowder

That one million people
Can beat one million bullets
But all it will take is one bullet
To beat you, Michael

We have more in common
Than our four children
And our changed names

More than Nobel Peace Prize gossip
Cold jail cell floors
And an oppressed underclass

More than Henry David Thoreau
And cowards who are too afraid to die for anything
Calling us soft

I’m so sorry
I should have told you
That Civil Disobedience
Requires civility

Civility that is very hard to find
In a human race that
Swaddles its offspring in flag and pistol
One in the cradle
And launches them off to war

I should have told you
That all of our Walden’s
Would be warzones

That we won’t die of old age
Or Tuberculosis like Henry

That non-violent resistance
Ends differently for people with our color skin
There should have been another chapter
For us

We both got our start in public transportation
Not the Montgomery Bus Boycott that put you on American television
But the day YOU
Were made to give up your seat on a bus
Hours after you won a speaking contest at the Negro Elks Society
And you didn’t sit in the back
You stood in the aisle
The entire 90-mile trip home

Where all the white passengers around you
Including the one in your seat
Were made to stare at your pride and your pain

You were fourteen

I was twenty-four

When I was thrown off a train
For refusing to leave the first class cabin
In South Africa
Beaten by a stagecoach driver
For refusing to “make room”
For a European passenger

That same genetic defect in humans
That made them spit on and spear
Your precious Jesus, King

I called it
“A negation of civilization”
You called me John 10:16
Which reads.
I have other sheep, which are not of this fold

You called me “great soul”

You said,
“Christ showed us the way,
And Gandhi in India showed it could work.”
And I’m sorry
That they are not all like you

Sorry
That they will forget
That I am Hindu and Muslim Peace
When they are looking for someone to bomb

That they will forget
That you are a militant lover
The pacifist-aggressive pastor
Monday through Sunday Christian
When they are looking for someone to be

I preached satya and ahimsa
Harvested riverbeds of salt
From the faces of my brothers and sisters
While giving the middle finger to British law

You preached
Said if one thousand are locked up
There should be a thousand more waiting to fill their jail cells too
Said peace is not merely the absence of tension,
it is the presence of justice.

And I’m sorry
Sorry, I didn’t tell you the rest
Sorry I didn’t tell you how tired I was
How tired you looked
At the end

How the press would ridicule you
When your peaceful protest exploded into to violence
How it would frustrate you
In a way that fasting and praying could not cure
How you could give a damn about how it would hurt your image
Because what was really taxing
Was how it broke your heart

Martin,
It’s the same heaven for lawyers and martyrs
There is no caste there
To separate those who live good lives
From those who live good legends

You could have just been a good father,
Husband, Pastor
Instead of King

I could have practiced law
Not dying for the cause

I should have told you the dirty little secret
That death
Is the only way out of making a hypocrisy of ourselves

That I was on the brink
Ready to duck tape the mouths of my fellow countrymen
Bickering over India and Pakistan
As the British smirked on their way out

And you
You were running out of other cheeks to turn

Sometimes,
Murder is the only way we leave in peace, Martin

He Ram

And I’m sorry I didn’t tell you sooner
But I think you knew

For someone dead at half my age
You were always a quick study

And when you got back from India
You let me and the whole of Dexter Avenue Baptist Church know

On Palm Sunday

You said,
“God grant that we shall choose the high way.
Even if it will mean assassination, even if it will mean crucifixion,
For by going this way we will discover that death will be only the beginning of our influence.”

© Hakim Bellamy January 17, 2013


Written for the 5th Annual Amy Biehl High School Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service & delivered at the 19th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. March and Celebration in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

DOC - by hakim bellamy

Written for & Delivered to the students of Amy Biehl High School on January 16th, 2012 in honor of their service during the Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

DOC:

I first saw Mr. Ray
As my patient
In Los Angeles
January 1968

He’d seen a scientologist
A hypnotist
And now he was in my chair

Had a family history of mental patients
Son of a prostitute
And a father who had been in and out of jail

Grocery stores,
Pay check stores,
Taxi cabs and office buildings
Ray was a robber, stick-up artist

Learned to shoot
In the Army
But didn’t learn much else
Discharged for ineptness and lack of ability
His military record said
He chafed at authority
Was drunk, AWOL
Didn’t follow orders very well

I suspect he suffered from a learning disorder
His school records
Reveal him as an outcast amongst his peers
The teachers actually wrote
That they found him “repulsive”
And “aggressive”

Mr. Ray failed the 1st grade
Now, I certainly would not say this in earshot of my client
But he certainly was not the brightest bulb in the bunch
No one would call him brilliant
But It’d be a mistake to call him dumb

There was evidence of a dissociative disorder
His family mythology was detached
From the reality of his social surroundings

The Rays were so poor
James and his two brothers
(Who grew up to be petty criminals as well)
Could not even afford the nickel for lunch

But to hear him tell it
HE
Was the smart one
The ambitious one
The one who would do great things

Unusual for a loner

Sure,
The investigation paints him as a racist
He worked for the George C. Wallace campaign
Wrote “Martin Luther Koon”
On the back of the hotel room TV
Last time both he and King
Were in LA
Miles from each other

But being from “Little Dixie” Missouri
The poorest of the poor whites
In a period of economic decline
King was talking about solving poverty
Wallace was talking about blaming somebody

Ray had pride in his race
Because that is the only thing he had
To take pride in

Assassins are usually in their early twenties
22, 23
Lee Harvey Oswald was 24
That age where the world is right and wrong
Never in between
And they are on fire
With the idea that they can change the world
With a gun and a bullet

Seldom are they Ray’s age
By 40, the world is more gray
In my professional opinion
He suffered from textbook narcissism
Pre-occupied with being wanted

I knew he was a fugitive
First time he walked into my office
But unlike most fugitives
He didn’t want to be anonymous
He wanted notoriety

And four days ago
He was the most wanted man in America

Criminal, yes.
Sociopath, absolutely.
Killer?

Three days ago
My patient pleaded guilty
To the murder of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
And today
He says he didn’t do it.

RAY:

They still didn’t think I could do it.
But I showed them
I mean no one had ever done that before, huh

No one has ever escaped Missouri State Penitentiary
But I did

Reported to work at the bakery that morning
Got into this loading dock box with a fake bottom
They put the bread on top
Closed up the box
Put me on the truck and rode on out of there

It’s NOT an easy place to get away from
Maximum security

And still didn’t make the FBI’s most wanted list
I know
I listened everyday
Escaped with my Channel Master Transistor Radio

Always news
I love news
Always this King feller

I love my people
Learned how to use fake names
From my parents
Skippin’ out on bills and mortgages
We moved around a lot
The Law didn’t like the Ray family too much
Nobody did, really
But we had each other

I remember the winter
We had to break pieces off of our house
For firewood

I talk about memories like these
And the time I was doing in Jeff City
With Jerry and John Ray
My brothers, in Chicago
I tell’em about my escape
And conversations with the Klan
And the brotherhood
And Raul
Inside

They talk about kidnapping
Pornography,
small change

Inside?
The word was
$100K for the head of Dr. Martin Luther King

It wasn’t about race
It was about money

Black people needing white jobs
Poor white people needed relief too
My family!
Needed me
To provide
An answer

I was in Canada for a month
Before I went to Birmingham, Alabama
Bought a Mustang
I saw Wallace
I watched King
I went Puerto Vallarta

I went to L.A.
Saw a few Doctors
Took dance lessons
Became a locksmith
And graduated from bartender school

Whole time I stayed in hotels
And ate pretty well for a convict
Ya know, when you break out of prison
You don’t exactly have the time
To stop and get all your personal effects

But I had money coming in
I knew people
People that helped me get what I needed
At least until I figured out how to help my family

And then one day
This King I always see on the TV and the radio
Gives me an idea

And the next day,
I forward all my mail
General delivery to Atlanta, Georgia
King’s hometown

My people are alright about it
So I leave the Wallace campaign and head east
Nothing but road, engine and radio
Nothing but King
And his Poor People’s March
Occupying the National Mall with tents?!

Who ever heard of such a thing ;)
And angry whites
With no jobs and no money
And angry blacks
With no money and no rights
“Redistribution of wealth”
Said the newsman on the radio

Edgar Hoover was on the radio
Head of the FBI
Calling King a big fat liar, front page
And this whole time
I thought he was a minister?

And I get to Atlanta
Buy a map and circle King’s life
His church
His house
His work
And as I headed back
To wait
I hear him on the radio:

“I admire the good Samaritan, but I don’t want to be one. I don’t want to spend my time picking up people by the side of the road, after they’ve been robbed and beaten up. I want to change the Jericho road.”
I knew then
I’d have to meet him in Memphis

See,
He didn’t come home
Because of 1000 colored sanitation workers
That were on strike in Memphis
Wanting higher pay
And Union recognition

A detour
News reports said
His staff objected,
Wanted to focus on Washington
But he said “he must”
“Because he promised them”
Said he could not ignore the call of his striking brothers

White people were striking too

I loved the news
I arrived in Memphis the same day as King
TV said
That morning
They had to disembark King’s plane
Of all passengers
Pilot said they had to check
For explosives
Because King was on board

Everybody knew he was coming
They knew what plane
They knew what hotel
They even knew what room number
It was in the news

48 hours later
I WAS the news
I made the news for
Buying a gun

I made the news for
Buying binoculars

I was in the news for
Being alone

I don’t know where my people went
I didn’t come to Memphis by myself
I came to be part of something
Something more powerful than
The stroke of a pen
Something more powerful than
A bullet

All I wanted
Was to see him for myself
See if he was real

He was

And then he was gone

And then they all pointed at me

I don’t know how an ex-felon
Gets from Memphis
To Detroit
To London

How I don’t get caught
‘Til they decide to catch me

I must’ve had help
From God or whoever
Percy Foreman, my attorney
Advised me to just take a plea
America is hungry for a hanging
And the Justice Dept. is looking for something to serve

At least
My story will be worth a fortune
And my family will be taken care of

King was a great man
And my name will forever be mentioned
Alongside
In the same breath as his

Hadn’t seen my news radio
Since I fled that rooming house in Memphis
Until it was presented to me by the FBI
In the pristine bundle
Of all the things they said were mine
As pristine as they found it

But I heard
Even in England
That I had finally

Finally…
Made the Most Wanted list.

HOOVER:

Also Known As Eric Eschol,
AKA Eric Gault
AKA Harvey Lowmeyer
AKA Ramone Snead
Born James Earl Ray

Was successfully apprehended
For the killing of Doctor
Martin Luther King

Now, I know
My disagreement with King’s philosophy
Was made public
But I can assure you

We made King our number one priority
Put him at the top of our list

We had FBI agents
On the ground
The very next day

Pulled every Passport issued
After the killing
Until we found a match
To Ray’s bartending school photograph

We checked Ray’s prints
Against 53,000 fingerprint cards
Of known felons
And we got lucky
On number 700

Immediately
Upon his capture
In the middle of the night
We flew Ray from London
To Memphis
Interrogated him the entire flight
About ties
To an international conspiracy
Or a revolutionary faction
To insure
That he’d be the end of it

But some
Will still insinuate
That I had some
Mad 10 year obsession
With King
That I
Used the power of this office
To destroy his life

Nothing
Could be further from the truth

We spent
More man hours on the King Manhunt
Than an other in history
And in the end
We got our man

I mean,
I can appreciate your concern
Doctor Ruffin
…but I don’t see
What this line of questioning
Has anything to do
With our visit today?



Copyright Hakim Bellamy January 14th, 2012