Monday, August 14, 2023

From my novel in progress: main character Emily Dickenson Traveler, beat poet

Emily performing at a slam...

“The title of this poem is “It Ain’t All Good,” she said. She shifted back and forth on her feet, shrugged her shoulders, ran her thumb and index finger over her mustache and launched in.

 “Look at how he’s dressed,” a man from the audience in a cliché corduroy jacket with tweed patches at the elbows had the nerve to criticize.

Emily shook her head vigorously. “Starting again. I’m MD. This poem is It Ain’t All Good.”

“Old folks rocking on the porch always say

Creek’s a risin’ better get out the way

What do they know?

Do they know the glaciers are about to flow?

Do they know the polar bears have nowhere to go?

Surfers float on their boards and preach

There’s plastic in the ocean – clean the beach

What do they practice?

Do they practice zero-waste tactics?

Do they practice what they preach or is it just an angry speech?”


Tweed patches in the audience yelled, “I could watch the news for this shit.”


“You need to check yourself,” a deep voice growled.


Emily peered out into the darkness. One of the Traveler Zealots from the grocery store was threatening tweed patches. “Check yourself or I’ll check you.”


“Why are you defending this loser? His poem stinks and he sounds like a girl.”


“That’s cause she is a girl and she’s the voice of the divine. Now shut up and sit down,” threatening man said.


Time to finish this and get the hell out of dodge, Emily thought.


“Do they practice what they preach or is it just an angry speech?

Politicians shouting from the podium claim

Everybody else is wrong –remember my name

Why do they polarize?

Do they polarize because it’s easy to demonize?

Do they polarize us deliberately to hide their lies?


Confederate flag waving bigots holler

I deserve a better life than people of color

What do they fear?

Do they fear a world they can’t domineer?

Do they fear their white privileges will disappear?”


“A’int nothing wrong with the confederate flag, bitch.” Emily eyes searched the room covertly while she continued performing. This heckler was proudly pulling the front of his shirt apart to reveal an Aryan brotherhood tattoo.


Really time to go!


Many Facebook-ers spread misinformation

Evil ones bully from a safe location

What do they need?

Do they need the truth hidden so they can succeed?

Do they need to hurt others and watch them bleed?


“Me, too” victims finally given a voice

“You wronged me. You didn’t give me a choice.”

Why do they broadcast?

Do they broadcast so their abusers will be outcast?

Do they broadcast to move society forward and fast?”


Sugar Diamond stood from a seat at one of the tables close to the stage. “Oh my god, you’re criticizing  me, too victims.” Nate stayed in his seat beside her, looking disgusted but not saying anything.


Why tonight? Why the hell did he have to come with her tonight?


Someone from the audience yelled, “She’s not criticizing them. She’s explaining them. Let her finish.”


“Yeah sit your ignorant ass down. Go on MD.”


Emily had never stopped. She was determined to finish and escape the Blackbird Lounge.


“Hippies on the street corner smoking pot

Say –it’s all good man –no – it’s not

Another person of color just got shot

A gay man was bashed in the parking lot

Book burning fires lit white hot

History rewritten from a white man’s yacht

Lying about the past so they get off scot


But we a’int gonna let them be

Are we?


Things can change when truth is spoken

We can fix what we have broken



We can slow down climate change

Scientists will tell us how

Part of that means cleaning the ocean

We can do it now”



There were still random hecklers in the audience shouting periodically but Emily ignored them, determine to finish before all hell broke loose.


 “Condemn racists and rapists

Deny lying gossips and bullies

Veto greed and all its allies

Ignore people who split us


Be kind to the needy ones

Respect the different ones

Be civil when we disagree

I think we can all agree

It’s time


That's why I wrote this beat poem

I wanted it to be an upbeat poem

But reality beat up my poem

With all that it brought up

That we need to beat

We cannot retreat

We have to defeat




As the old folk's rocking on the porch say

We means you and me

Not they

Let’s start today”

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