Blue Collar Broadcast

American Poets
Interview Series

Beaver Dam Rocking Chair Marathon

Tapping My Own Phone

Blue Collar Boom


American Poets Interview Series
Beaver Dam Rocking Chair Marathon Tour

Tour Log: August 29th, 1998


  Featured poetry by Kalamu ya Salaam

Ruby Dee Eyes
/the 9 march 1996 ruby dee tribute
at umbc organized by acklyn lynch/

the room went dark &, as we tried to guess what to expect, the program
	opened with a snatch of ruby in the jackie robinson story projected
	on a screen at the rear of the stage

there she was, a very young quiet fire bright eyed ruby ready to face
	whatever the morrow may bring

jackie says he's about to head south for training camp & he's sure there's
	gonna be trouble, so maybe they ought to get married after he gets

ruby doesn't skip a heartbeat, "let the trouble come"

you know black women have been saying that for centuries

		if we
		can be

my redness

my deep
		will warm you

during this winter
	of our

& scene after scene was shown in between speeches & poems, following &
	before dramatic sequences & musical interludes, ahead of & behind
	the presentation of plaques & portraits

scenes from buck & the preacher:

it's like there's poison in this land
sweet ruby scowls
it's like the ground is poisoned


for freedom, i'd go all the way
to the ocean
& walk away from here

from this land that is poisoned

such rough vision is a deep seeing we all some-soon day will have to face,
	now that it's nearly three hundred years of military rule later

(i do not mean to offend those who consider america a democracy, but i
	know how the west was won, why every pilgrim had a gun & that
	they gave thanks to their warrior god not for native charity but rather
	for their socalled civilize christian superiority, their inate ability to
	conquer / nearly five hundred years of genocide against the red and
	three centuries of blacks made slaves can not be erased by a mere
	thirty years of half-hearted, about to be fully rescinded, affirmative
	action / i mean if you don't pledge allegiance to uniting with
	conquerors and the descendants of slave masters, then there is no
	democracy here / troubled spirits inhabit this soil, restless souls
	whose wrongs must be righted / actually the poison is not in the 
	land, but rather in the evilness of those who seek to ignore or to 
	distort the course of justice with manifest destiny arguments & great
	nation shibbolets about how america the beautiful has made
	amends when it's still a blood drenched plundered land)

but, oh say can you see
can you stand to see
to see our world
the world where we
struggle to be, to survive
see our reality beyond the blues
past the whites through the red
of ruby dee eyes

see not just what this nation has achieved but acknowledge also how it
	came to be
see the birth of democracy in a stolen land of slavery
see the rulers of oz for what they are actually are, sinister washington grand
	wizards continuing the reign of death for any & all who refuse to
	bow down
see that philosophically we are diametrically opposed, for us life is dearer
	than gold, & for them ownership is the goal of life
see how capitalist connivance is constant & unswerving in commodifying &
	commercializing the value of every body's soul

i say can you see what ruby dee eyes
eyes eyeing reality
eyes eyeing dreams
eyes open
eyes closed
eyes watching the beast enter
eyes watching her man leave
eyes watching her children issue forth into a world aflame

ruby deep red eyes forced to swallow rape
red deep ruby eyes learning to love the child the master made
deep red ruby eyes challenging maimed males to be fully men
deep eyes ruby red teaching abused girls to be whole women
ruby eyes red & deeply ready to survive, to live, to love, to go down to the
	sea & walk the water if that's the only way to get free

do you think you could see the world through ruby dee eyes
see your life on stage as maid, as po' child who just grew, as mother,
	prostitute, lover & lesser other
see your talents more often miscased & under-utilized rather than given
	something elegant to portray, something real to say

brother could you stand the world if you had woman eyes
brother could you rise every morning if you had to lay down each night with
	your legs open because you have no other way to shelter your
brother could you be ruby & see the potential of a man's smiling face
	betrayed by the disappointments of his back walking away
brother could you speak to brothers without screaming if most black male
	images portrayed you as a whore

if you wore ruby deep eyes you would know how constant cutting is the title
	bitch spewed out of the black holes of male mouths
if you wore ruby red you wouldn't be able to count the times your behind
	is the first thing many men see as you walk toward them
if you wore ruby deep ruby how long could you watch television without
if you a man with deep eyes were treated like a woman but you thought like
	a man, how long before you sliced some motherfucker's thang clean
if the only royalty you could achieve was welfare queen, how long before
	you gave up on the kingdom coming

brother how long could you cope with this hopeless insanity before it drove 
	you stone mad
brother how often could you dry your eyes and keep on keeping on, steady 
	stepping soft strong into tomorrow
brother how wide could you open your eyes & welcome face all your 
	people in sorrow

could you look at yourself in the mirror without thinking of dying
could you
could you wear ruby dee eyes & not just survive but also grow, glow &	
& love
& live
& climb on a stage, turn to face the camera & be beautiful, be tender, be
	real, be black

if you looked at the world through red ruby woman eyes
could you still stand to be black
could you
could you be ruby dee at sixty
could you make it that long, that strong
could you hum the lyric, remember the rhythm, & harmoniously chant life's deep song

should you survive 
how would you survive
could you cancel the cold & revive
arise the morning after, wide awake with nary a regret clouding the
	clearness of your vision
should you
could you
would you
with your ruby deep eyes wide open
be able to truthfully say


not standing still
but still standing
& ever ready to forward move

could you wear deep ruby dee eyes
& sixty years after their opening
still be standing
be standing

despite the terrors of the night
despite the heat of the night
despite whatever happens in the night

rise fore day in the morning
buckle on your traveling shoes
regardless of how your feets may feel
surmount the hurt
rise & still be standing

& ready
ready to rise
raise up out of here & fly
ready to go
to journey
to the shore
ready & ready
to meet the sea
ready & ready
to walk across

if that's the only way 
	for you
		to be free

could you
can you 
will you wear
	ruby dee 
from Fertile Ground: Memories & Visions, Runagate Press, 1996

note: Tilt-A-Whirl Press press is done and gone. Details here.
Site design by Summersault
Last modified: (none)