Mario Bauza/Lasana Kazembe



Argument with a Saxophone


they blew and blew and blew and blew

til they was blue

blue black from beats

born in on and for corners of nickel slicks

where they do funk and exorcisms

over cosmic eggs and sunday morning whispers

they do funk and exorcisms in 6/8

over spinning looms

spinning life to the living  

to they who blew and blew

and wrapped their soul

around the fifth vertebrae of sweaty peasants

talking stuff to harem girls

they blew freedom     and the architecture of abstract

to legions of hot ones

well done from tenor glazing and well done from

the ornate phrasing of spirits and polymorphs

they blew blue cool/blew beau cool

they blew ‘til they was blue



their lips were angry prunes     rapping pain

meticulous tickles of brass breezes    

sheets of sound in flatted fifths

e sharps and b sharps

and c sharps and d sharps and

their lips were angry prunes

bewitching stitching withered dream pieces

twitching the quietude of black intimates

juxtaposed moon fevers and swollen daydreams

their hair was dried raisins

standing in rigid formation     in tight sheen

at the command of the unseen



a million and one dried raisins

sticky, staticky temples

freed from the obscene lies of texturizers

the hippest trip was two angry prunes

fighting a million and one dried raisins

fighting e sharps and c sharps

for articulation of a jazz mood

and these two blew liquid onyx with reed phonics

they blew affection and angry silk

blew and got it said

with brass utterances and fire notes

bones basted for the assumption

and they blew and blew and blew

they blew jubilee tales of baoulé and whatisnamenem

fingers etched nimbly along the golden pipe

advent for the sunlit in unlit catacombs

called la conga club

from hausaland to bauzáland

from brazzaville to cachaoville

sho nuff did they blew euphonic blasphemy

cascades of corner hustling

fire notes of black and the blue magic of matanzas

quarter halves and dulce in six eight

they blew delectable cherries and oil smoke

to answer the arguments of intellectuals in short dresses

sporting cheyenne smiles and latin tinge

they blew bluetrality

conjunction and cadence

they blew chains off ankles and brains

they blew greens at the chicken shack

arroz y tiempo and the gratitude of fools

hey blew funk and pain

all motion was born under the first law

all order was born under the second law

the first law was for the wind

the second law like unto it

was for they who blew

and blew and blew and

blew and blew

and blew








this music was born in the blood
of drum chants and spirit food found
in sunlight basting flowers and foreheads

of creation people speaking
in cowbell and congo cosmogram
this music is the mystery child of field hollers

and interlocking tropical dependency
the weaving of gentle smoke wafts

sapele reeds and cassava seeds rattled
against the wooden stomachs of dry gourds

hue man music set against the velveteen    

of black forest and bembe circles


this music is vodun vodou hand claps

cresting above the hollowed staccato

of pork and rum barrels
the sweet noise of ifa and the mystic dance

of wind and time whistling through
cane fields of restless memory this

music is dunham’s singing gods
tricksters and spirit jumpers in three two

clak-­‐clak-­‐clak    clak-­‐clak
clak-­‐clak-­‐clak    clak-­‐clak
the pulse of goosebumps and foot fever

stirrings in the centers of calico souls the

presaging of spirit gods
vengeful  happy  keeping time for

war, courtship, remembrance


this music is the music of deep fissures
and the pressure of the prologue of centuries

the fateful fusion of tears and blood
and ecstasy cries of egungun and black seafarers

this music marks the interpolation
of ox horns and stacy adams
godfathers and godmothers fled the enconmienda

for congo square and the royal roost
new arrival of tito  chico  miguelito

papalitos sporting stingy brims
thick and thin see through socks drooping

as they conjured dance magic in 6/8    

over flocks of flacas and tender succubae

over sweaty full-­‐figured mamacitas
the look of love in their eyes    mambo y tiempo

rippling through they butter crème thighs    

this music is hybrid and anti-­‐conquistador

offspring sprung from chano pozo, machito

and his afrocubanos


this music the amalgam of obas and factory workers

of seamstresses and draymen
this music is written in the red oil      

of native sons and daughters scions

of sacred and secret messages rituals

and ringshouts
from the machinery at the center of time
born in the blood of drum chants and spirit food

basting flowers and foreheads
of creation people

speaking speaking



El Matrimonio

they say the love affair was nature born

in the tension of a 2-­‐3/3-­‐2 attack pulse
they say the love affair began overseas in the grist

in the gris-­‐gris and physiography of forest dwellers
their ears pressed up ‘gainst sweaty bark of treefalls and triple blackness

culling elite nectar 
from the rhythm of the stories in their hearts crossing

crisscrossing hard-­‐to-­‐get-­‐across streambeds and cataracts
perfect spiraling through lush dream canopy and low swung leaf carpet

ituri forest rhythms as ancient as twilight   as brilliant and serious
as sirius and the syncopated telling of folktales of longing

they say el matrimonio crisscrossed seas and middle passaged
as it curated in the delectable corpus of shiny captives

who took (as they were taken) their uh-­‐uhs and uhh-­‐huhs

and oh-­‐ohs middle passaged  with them   within them

they say el matrimonio continued underseas
unabated in the marrow of mahogany tomorrow people

beshackled and bought wholesale from barracoons 
belly-­‐fed to tiburons and great whites
by lesser whites strung out, cockeyed, and long in the tooth

mahogany tomorrow people with dark eyes tooken westerly

the nectar of their stellar rhythms inculcated in sinews and dna

incubated in the warm womb of the land of sunshine and machete

caciques and maroons blending terms and tempos at twilight  

over steaming claypots of moors and christians
conjoining in the soul of sweet yuca roots reaching deep deep deep

into that shiny black earth we called hell and home in tandem

they say this marriage was arranged
this alchemy of sprits of multicolors and polyrhythms
batá, clave, and cow skin catchphrases calling across green seas

ponchando meets mambo and the abakuá storychants
of ellis island émigrés from sierra maestro by way of el mina
and came he that small darkman of creation
congas, bongos, timables in tow
small darkman from the yambú land

small darkman in constant communal      

weaving rich ancestor tribunal to yemaja

tangled textured layers of complex sounds
brass and wood   bongocero and batán rhythms
born and bathed in the blood and bellyfire of runaways and captives
arrived he conferring richness of mambo ethos

to the bronzed apple of dizzy and webb
to the baked apple of cab and ella arrived he
to the apple of everything in between that be’d and bopped  

bowed he   proud darkman in the shadowed lights of the palladium

green pleated guayabera   fedora   soul patch   gingerman grin 
small darkman doing jazz incantation with orisxas and half notes

over  the contested memory of slave labor and salt water negroes
pantheon of peppery haints of la regla de ocha

arrived he    small darkman from the yambú land 
boasting africa unmistakably in his nostrils and veins

adobo via africa undergirding the strain of colors
in his talk and tanga and tin tin deo

in his talk and tanga and tin tin deo

tackling time and tickling the toes
of africanos y cubanos y non from cali to key west
small darkman from the yambú land

performing ceremonies of marriage and birth

two thousand seasons of sine qua non

telling retelling foretelling storied tales
of paupers and peanut vendors    

of the people who be them people

darkpeople from the yambú land

of sun and soul patch and postiche

they say el matrimonio
is like forever being born



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