Guest poem submitted by Anil C. Mohan :
(Poem #1629) jump mama
pretty summer day grammama sittin on her porch easy rockin her grandbaby in her wide lap ol men sittin in their lincoln tastin and talkin and talkin and tastin young boys on the corner milkin a yak yak wild hands baggy pants young girls halfway up the block jumpin that double dutch singin their song kenny kana paula be on time cause school begins at a quarter to nine jump one two three and aaaaaaah. . . round the corner comes this young woman draggin herself heavy home from work she sees the young boys sees the old men but when she sees the girls she just starts smilin she says let me get a little bit of that they say you can't jump you too old why they say that o, why they say that she says tanya you hold my work bag chaniqua come over here girl i want you to hold my handbag josie could you hold my grocery bag please kebè take my purse she starts bobbin her head, jackin her arms tryin to catch the rhythm of the ropes and when she jumps inside those turning loops the girls crowd her sing their song kenny kana paula be on time cause school begins at a quarter to nine jump one two three and aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah she jumps on one leg -- aaaaah she dances sassy saucy -- aaaaah jump for the girls mama jump for the stars mama jump for the young boys sayin jump mama! jump mama! jump for the old woman sayin -- aww, go head baby and what the young girls say what the young girls say aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah
I chanced upon this wonderful poem a few days ago and then noticed that you had no poems by the relatively new-age African-American poet Kurtis Lamkin (biography appended). Lamkin is a multi-faceted talent - besides being a poet, he is also a musician who plays a 21-stringed West African harp/lute instrument called the 'kora', has composed the lyrics and music for a dance concert ('Psychic Lover') and had an animated poem "The Foxes Manifesto," based upon the 1976 Soweto Rebellion that was aired for two years on PBS. I'm not given to much interpreting of poems. More often, poems that I hold dear are ones that connect with me at a deep, albeit inexpressible level. This Lamkin poem impressed upon me in two essential ways. One, it's basic cadence - it's wonderful rhythmic, bass feel...the 'make your feet tap, body sway and head nod from side to side, up and down' kind of groove. And two, the way it connected aspects of our different 'life selves' together: the child - active, free, uninhibited, insensitive, self-centred; the young working adult - harried, cumbered, responsible, tired, worried, hopeful, 'child'ish; the old folk - unhurried - slow-paced, encouraging, observant, contemplative - reflective. Hope our minstrel readers like it too.... Anil C. Mohan [Bio of Kurtis Lamkin] Kurtis Lamkin is currently touring the United States with a new collection of praise poems entitled EL SHABAZZ (CD, Jambaco Sound). As he reads these poems in praise of the spiritual connection he experienced as a participant in the Million Man March and in praise of El Hajj Malik El Shabazz (Malcolm X), Kurtis Lamkin plays the kora, a twenty-one stringed West African harp-lute used by Djelis (griots, troubadours) to accompany original and traditional compositions. His own oral compositions explore the counterpoint between the fixed meanings of words and the raw sounds ("scat") that emerge from and dissolve into feeling. He has performed his poems and music internationally, from Sajara, Gambia (West Africa) to the Guggenheim Museum in New York. His poems have also been broadcast on PBS as a short animated film (THE FOXES MANIFESTO), choreographed as a dance concert ("Psychic Lover"), and previously recorded on the CD MY JUJU (1995). From 1994-1996, he was Poet in Residence at the New School for Social Research. Before that, he taught in metropolitan New York public schools and community sites through Teachers & Writers Collaborative. A Philadelphia native, he recently moved with his family to Charleston, South Carolina. His poems are included in I FEEL A LITTLE JUMPY AROUND YOU (1996), and he has received fellowships from the South Carolina Arts Commission and The Fund for Poetry.