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    Posted February 3, 2009 by
    Stockbridge, Georgia
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Inauguration: Your view of history

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    My Neighbor's Dog Zakai Inspires Me to Write

    HOW ZAKAI INSPIRES ME TO WRITE by Pablo I awoke at 3 a.m. this morning as I did yesterday and the day before, aroused from restless slumber by the ghost of incomplete thoughts demanding full expression. My neighbor's dog, a mongrel of mixed pedigree - Native American Indian and wolf, I surmised - greeted me with an ominous howl interrupted by a staccato of barks that shattered the peace and silence of a winter's morn. Somehow, I felt an eerie connection to this raucous canine; it seemed like he was trying to communicate with me directly. Perhaps, the spirit of my father who had died tragically from a drug overdose a few years back was being channeled through Zakai. Or maybe his sharp scarlet eyes had simply detected the flicker of light from my desk lamp as I prepared to liberate my thoughts from the prison of mind to the virtual pages of a Microsoft Word file on my PC. But why allow the voice of logic to silence that of a deceased dad trying to reach out and touch his only son, to support his creativity, to compensate for decades lost under the spell of vice and her opiate needles. So my neighbor's dog, Zakai, became my cheerleader, my dad reincarnated, each howl a source of encouragement, each bark a challenge to stay the course. Woof! Today, I am moved to write a poetic tribute to President Obama whose dad was also smitten by compulsion but who, with the love and support of his single mother and maternal grandparents, persisted, navigating the racially explosive minefields of life as a mixed-race child, pursuing knowledge with passion and resolve, and ultimately overcoming odds many described as impossible, to become the first President of the United States who happens to be black. Of course, I could have simply stated that he is the first black President but I want to make the salient point that we are all human beings first and foremost. Race, gender, religion, sexual-orientation and all the other man-made demographic captions are secondary. Period! Imagine how differently history would have unfolded had Vasco de Gama, Christopher Columbus, Hernando de Soto, or any of the European "discoverers" of the New World, perceived and treated black Africans and Native American Indians as human beings like themselves - no better or worse? But that's a thought for another day. Today, the seeds of a cadent and inspiring free verse epode, nurtured by hope, rooted in the premise of equality, are ready to sprout. Woof! I scribble a few words onto my note pad. They are the broad themes I would like to capture in this poem: history, slavery, civil rights struggle, sacrifice, pride. The engine powering the verse creation process in my head roars to life. A fierce war of words, phrases, metaphors, similes and rhymes ensues, each fighting for a role, a shot at immortality in this auspicious narrative. Suddenly, the victors of the first-line battle emerge: "A tear fell today...", quickly followed by lines two and three: "from the Coast of Ivory" and "for the souls of Juillet, Jimi, Babet and Bambara..." ; a quick Google search for "African slave names" had produced a few hundred from which I chose the four that sounded most unique and resonant. The number of names chosen - four - intimates forty four and Barack Hussein is the 44th US President. I decide to maintain this inference throughout the poem. I wrap up the first verse with two lines that link the sacrifice of slaves to Barack's inauguration as president: "Sacrificed for Barack", "and landed in Washington D.C." For emphasis, rhythm, and theme-consistency, I repeat the first and last lines of verse one in the remaining verses i.e. "A tear fell today..." and "...and landed in Washington D.C." In the body of verse two, I cite four slaves and the horrific punishment they endured. For example, "Jude, whipped and smoked.." and "Cealy, leashed and yoked". Again, I Googled "slave punishments" and came up with a long list of macabre means of torture from which I chose eight, two for each of the four slaves. In this verse the sacrifices are made for" Hussein" (Barack's middle name). I also took pause to match the metric lengths of the lines in each couplet, as well as the consonant sound of the last word (see the couplet with Jude and Cealy cited above). Verse three focuses on four specific locations of brutal injustices against African Americans. For example, "A tree in Lynchburg" and "A bloody balcony in Tennessee", the latter a reference to the assassination of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. In this verse the sacrifices are made for "Obama". And thus the spontaneous, dynamic, mysterious and satisfying process of verse creation unfolds until the finished product - an intense, latent, rhythmic, and substantive occasional free verse poem - is complete. The concluding verse reads: "A tear fell today from the joy of my ancestors for Barack Hussein Obama The poem is then edited and re-edited to achieve an economy of words while maximizing cadence, rhythm, message, readability, and force. The latter refers to beauty or emotional appeal. A good poem must resonate with and excite the reader's (or listener's) senses. The more senses stirred, the greater the emotional force of the poem. Finally, I read the poem loudly a few times to get a good feel for it and to find an appropriate name. I eventually choose the title- "Tears of My Ancestors" and post it on my favorite poetry websites: http://www.theunps.com/ , http://www.moontowncafe.com/ , and http://www.poetrypoem.com/ . I also mail a hand-written copy with a personal note to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue..... for what is a poet if not a dreamer! Woof! By Pablo Poet / Author of The Drummer in Me, My Poor Dad, and Behcet's in Black http://www.poeteez.com/ NOTE: To read my poem "Tears of My Ancestors", please click on any of the links below: * 1.
  • * * * * http://www.theunps.com/open_mic/showthread.php?t=6639&highlight=tears+ancestors
  • 2.
  • * * * * http://www.moontowncafe.com/poetry/view_poem.asp?cat_id=1&subcat_id=229&poem_id=68401
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