Tuesday, May 3, 2011

one shot: in the shadow of wolf biermann

white was the first color i ever
learned, its various shades,
from bronze on the beach,
to peach and pure sheets
worn on sundays after church
cross taken from the altar
for sacrificial front yard burning---

and after, pickin n grinnin, it
came clear in mason jars and a
few bars of amazing grace &
the good lawd wash yew
white as snow---

oh it's heritage not hate long as
you sit on the right, side of the
tracks n have a gun rack in yaw
pick up truck n course yur
mahogany ain't black, but look
at me type cast---

you ever seen a man hung by
the neck? it's nasty business, but
no one wants to remember that.
brown was a color, faded to absence
of, that started with N, second class
citizen, field hollers fed corn bread
mush in cups & collards picked
bred on striped backs, back when,
cause we come a long way since

in making less visible that which
we discriminate against, but every
once in a while i go back for pintos
in wood bowls across dining room
tables adorned with doilies
southern charm sweet delicacies
& after the meal, take my coffee, no
cream, black, cause i like it like that,
and smile cause ignorance don't
ev'a  recognize itself.

One Shot Wednesday - write something poetic and come join us!  Hosted tonight by the wonderful Claudia. It opens tonight at 5pm EST.

120 comments:

Austin said...

I love the last line . . . well captured, especially from the families I've been a part of.

Austin said...

Timing is everything apparently! How many times have you been first (and only) over at the Rambling thoughts!

Love you bro.

David Allen Waters said...

that last line says it all...

JStar said...

Very very touching...Esp having racist family members...being tortured my whole life from them...Then to be discriminated and profiled because of who I was dating then married and had children with...Hate is a deadly thing...

Monkey Man said...

I always like to say "too bad ignorance isn't painful." You captured this one.

Captain Dumbass said...

Never does, never will.

Corinna said...

Wow. You summed up the entire bible belt here. Love it.

rosaria said...

A whole lot of history and politics here, in a bowl of beans and collard greens.
Who is wolf biermann?

Claudia said...

great pace, fantastic internal rhymes and a content to make one think.. love this poem brian
wolf biermann is the father of nina hagen btw - not sure if she's so well-known over here...
he is quite the revolutionary...and i see some sparks bleeding over to you...smiles

Sue said...

Okay. That one was pretty much genius.

=)

Betsy said...

super great sentiments and so well written!

TALON said...

The contrasts here were remarkable, Brian.

Magpie said...

I know there is much still to be done, but I'm thankful for all the progress made.

Daniel said...

Dang, you are talented and nicely on point with this wonderful post.

Josh Hoyt said...

This is a great thing for us all to be aware of. Our own prejudices and how we justify them. I like the last line and how it points out that we miss our own biases. Great job!

California Girl said...

and you from Indiana...home of the KKK.

I used to tease my mother about that as she was from Indpls. She didn't like that much as she wasn't at all prejudiced.

ayala said...

Fantastic and I love the last line...smiles.

budh.aaah said...

Ignorance is not always bliss..so I've come to realize the hard way....

Mama Zen said...

This is perfect.

tracy said...

A rather dark poem about white. Excellent work!

Who Is Afraid of Alfred Hitchcock? said...

Hi! Brian...
Words that come to mind after reading your poem: Powerful, (brutal, but subtlety honest,) thought-provoking and Thanks, for sharing!
DeeDee ;-D

Natasha said...

You've taken me on a journey to places I've only ever seen in movies, and whether this is good or bad, I've a feeling my impressions haven't been all that off! For me, it is so very hard to imagine judging someone based on skin color or social status, but then we have our histories to thank, and to think that our minds have not been shaped in some fashion by them, I think is no better than sticking your head in the sand and pretending it doesn't exist. Hmmm...I think the world of Lestat and Armand is much easier to comprehend then our own...certainly a little easier to swallow/stomach. This is a piece that leaves this reader angry, confused, and at the same time, so very happy for my own little reality bubble. Thanks for an awesome, thought provoking write, and my apologies for the essay...but hey! I've missed a few, it seems :)

Pat Hatt said...

As said above
That last line fits the whole write like a glove
As it sums everything up great
Ignorance shouldn't be at a high rate
But sadly it won't go away
Thankfully I don't see it a whole bunch up my way

kkrige said...

I just don't understand it. I don't understand that colour line at all, aside from through fear. Sad, but you have mastered the art of taking your readers there

Chris G. said...

*shudders* As many have noted before me, my friend, that last line is certainly the sum...but the piece-at-large is a superbly paced, smooth commentary on ignorance and its like that has ever so haunted our world...a thought-evoking piece aided by the voice chosen.

Few things are so horrible in this world as the discrimination humanity itself has created time and again...

Dulce said...

NEVER does it... so true...
Ah-
White
what a lying colour...
Great one Shot , my friend!

Myrna R. said...

You paint it black and real. Ignorance is not bliss, and has no self-awareness.

Anthony Desmond said...

wow Brian, just wow...

you captured that subject perfectly... really doesn't make sense to me man, that even in this day & age, ignorance is still so damn strong... and we still can't love & accept each other... let something as small as skin color, or who we lay in bed with at night stop us from thinking of one another as equal. Just stupid.

Barbara Shallue said...

Wow - very powerful!

C Rose said...

Another thought provoking piece. It does speak, as others have already so adequately spoken about, the sadness to the ignorance of living in hate and fear creates. As always, I enjoyed and sat to read it several times over to ensure I absorbed its detail. ~ Rose

Kodjo Deynoo. said...

Your kindly play with the colours makes stanzas to life, nicely picked from Bible. Great written.

anthonynorth said...

Brilliant statement at the end.

dustus said...

love the ending as well as the dialect and internal rhymes throughout. Heavy write.

gayle said...

Growing up mostly in CA.........I am thankful!

Great one!!

LauraX said...

that last line is mighty powerful my friend...but the flow of the whole that takes us to that point had me holding my breath without realizing it...until I exhaled on the last word.

Asobime said...

Great Poem, Brian, but I disagree...this doesn't sum up the entire Bible Belt. After 40 years here, coming from Princeton, New Jersey,(where racism had an amazing intellectual glamour) I have seen amazing things of compassion and tolerance....and I have seen violence and ignorance from both blacks and whites...

Ignorance is deep, but it can die out...given time and given grace.

Racism is fear and ignorance on both sides.

Last line is a zinger.

Lady Nyo

Rene/ Not The Rockefellers said...

this is a real gut punch...unbelievably powerful
and chillingly spot on

Kavita said...

the last 2 lines are amazingly stark and powerful! a terrific message portrayed so well, Brian..

It's good to be back to reading my fav. poets!!! Whheewww

Louise said...

Amazing poem..I love that you can write so honestly about almost anything..like you have actually been there! Impressive.. : )

Tina said...

Dang, man! You rocked that one. I usually find dialect hard to read, but you nailed that. Those last two lines just drove it home so succinctly. Nicely done, my friend.
Tina @ Life is Good

Beachanny said...

And that bigotry didn't stay in our South; as the South tried to mend its ways the prejudice went North and West and Underground. It's not gone only hiding badly. The "birthers" are proof positive.
Well written here Brian.

Marian said...

yes. and how you say something so strong and make it sound so lyrical is a mystery.

lori said...

Unfortunately, ignorance does not recognize itself :( Racism hurts my heart in a way that nothing else does. I don't understand it. I never will.

"oh it's heritage not hate as long as you sit on the right, side of the tracks n have a gun rack in yaw pick up truck..."

i have family like this, and you hit the nail right on the head...again :)

Leslie said...

i always think it's interesting that the color white is made up of all the colors... so it really has no reason to think it's above any other...

this is mighty uncomfortable in places, which is, of course, what you intended, and why it is a powerful write.

Belinda said...

We have a long way to go...said by someone whose family is multi-culti living in a progressive city...i can only imagine what it's like in less diverse parts of the country.

Interesting to note Claudia's comment about Nina Hagen as the daughter of Wolf Biermann. I just looked him up on wiki...want to learn more. Thanks for the edumacation.

Jannie Funster said...

It's interesting the various levels of awareness and non-awareness that can exist among humans. You highlight the discrepancies very well here, Brian with your words, sharp and clear, as usual.

Xo

Joybird said...

cause ignorance don't
ev'a recognize itself.

powerful line - and convicting, because I wonder what ugly in me do I not see

wolfsrosebud said...

A rainbow of expression. Glad the world has so many hues... great job.

Matt Coughlan said...

"heritage not hate" rocked my world.

:D

sparrowsong said...

What a great insight. Ignorance doesn't ever recognize itself. That's never occurred to me before.

Ben Langhinrchs said...

Wow. Hits with a visceral punch. Reminds me just a bit of that song from South Pacific, "You've Got to Be Carefully Taught".

booguloo said...

Almost as good as fried taters and you know how much I like fried taters.

mel said...

wow - that is fierce. and so much truth there -- last line, definitely.

brilliant, truly brilliant

Glynn said...

This is what I grew up with -- and its opposite was the first color I learned. Love the voice of the poem.

PattiKen said...

Wow, Brian. Just... wow. This blew me away.

Kate Hanley said...

Great writing and so poignant to read right after watching American Experience about James Earl Ray.

Kim Nelson said...

As a long-grown woman once called white trash by an uppity parent of a teen-years friend, I understand. As the daughter of a man who once sat, gun poised through scree-removed front window to teach "that wetback" a lesson, I understand.

heartspell said...

"in making less visible that which we discriminate against"..... I love the truth in this.... things haven't really improved much if now we just hide it. Enjoyed this much. :)

hedgewitch said...

Solid, man. All the way through. the only thing it lacks is a tar paper shack and a mattress by the side of the road, and nobody wants to look at those either.

Slamdunk said...

Good that you have evoked readers into sharing about the issues in their own families--something I have struggled with as well and not thought about how others handle it.

Life with Kaishon said...

That last line? All kinds of powerful. Every line really.
You are so good.
If you write a book I will buy it.
I will be the first in line.
Off to tweet this amazing artistry with words. WOW!

liv2write2day said...

Oh wow! I was expecting a nice little poem on colors. This is a powerful reflection.

Syd said...

Ignorance is so rampant in this country. There is still a wish for many to bring back slavery.

Lolamouse said...

Brian,
Fantastic piece! Ignorance and hatred can be dressed up and paraded around in chinos and button down shirts too. I've seen both kinds and neither is pretty.

versebender said...

"Cause ignorance don't
ev'a recognize itself." No it sho don't! Nailed this one! Vb

Tara Miller said...

Your last line is raw truth and very powerful my love! So very true and sad that prejudices and discrimination are still very much alive and kicking to this day....

woih said...

awesome writing Brian..

"It takes considerable knowledge to realize the extent of ones own ignorance."
-Sir Thomas Knowell

try some cream once in a while

brokenpenwriter said...

Wow, Brian - the voice in this piece is so convincing; rythym, accent, tone and pride. With a slight touch of rap, but mostly with the voice of an older generation - authentic and yes, frightening how true it still is, even today when our president is half black - did anyone one ever question all-white presidents about their birth certificates?
Excellent work on many levels.

happygirl said...

Yep, you've got it. And, it stings a bit, but ... Who's Wolf Biermann? sorry I'm dense.

Margaret said...

Just came back from a trip to Charleston. Beautiful city, but I can't help think it was the African's who brought the knowledge of rice growing to Charleston and practically ran the rice fields, made the plantation owners rich beyond reason and then the slaves were considered "stupid" and unteachable when they were the ones teaching the owners in the first place... Magnolia Plantation has "slave tour" which is very educational. You really let your mind flow on this piece!

She Writes said...

The world would be a different place if it did.

Leo said...

Wow.. That was brilliant! :) I liked the last line, yes, but the opening floored me as well.! Was beautiful.

ModernMom said...

Brian! How do you always find new inspiration? Clap clap

Reflections said...

You have captured some amazing imagery here... blessed with true understanding of the times, and then brilliantly bring it to its climax in such a stunning manner.

violet said...

Strong last line that sums it all up well. We all have our blind spots, even if we don't speak 'y'all' or live on the right side of the tracks. I'll be checking out my prejudices for min.

John (@bookdreamer) said...

emotional poem with cleave use of colour as a motif

Don't Want A Real Job said...

Brian, I love that you don't censor...this one is raw, true, and says so many damn things that I am feeling right now in just a few stanzas...nice write brotha.

Zuzana said...

You have such a sensitive soul dear Brian. Love the last paragraph and I agree with you on the ignorance...
Have a great day dear friend,
xoxo

lines n shades said...

love your style of writing :)

trisha said...

very thoughtful brian.

repressedsoul said...

What an amazing way to put your view to the world Brian, a thoughtful meandering into the world of politicking coupled with the ingenuity of your internal rhymes, thought it strengthened the piece and shot home the message. Extremely poignant in the last two lines

Sally J said...

great statement, without preaching at all, but saying enough to provoke uncomfortable squirming, and that last line - wow!

Olivia said...

fter the meal, take my coffee, no
cream, black, cause i like it like that,
and smile cause ignorance don't
ev'a recognize itself..

This said it all!
Once again, you have touched a very intense theme and very poetically..

Peace n Love xox

Aquarius63 said...

So true Brian and so well said. Ignorance and hypocrisy, there was and is to much of it.

Anita.

Andy said...

WoW! So many opinions. You certainly know how to rile us all up, Brian.

Great piece, well written.

TechnoBabe said...

To think that this was actually real at one time. For the loud mouth preachers, I bet their God was smiling down and watching them treat fellow human beings this way. The God I know does not teach hate.

slommler said...

Not only was this real at one time...it some places it is still the norm!!! Sad to say!
Well written Brian
Hugs
SueAnn

Lorraine said...

ignorance don't ever recognize itself neither does judgment...and violence begets violence

annell said...

You have said it well. The last line is so complete!

the walking man said...

Hung for a bit then cut down and burned alive. Yeah some memory is institutional.

Little Ms Blogger said...

I like this piece for several reasons. Maybe it is my imagination, but as soon as you finish the 1st paragraph the language/words used are words an educated man wouldn't use.

The visual I get from this poem is really amazing. Although I live in the Northeast, racism/bigotry is still present.

I have no idea why you wrote this poem, but am glad you did and shared it with us.

CM said...

Like LauraX said, I was holding my breath the whole time reading that until the end and didn't even realize it. That was good. Edgy, controversial, powerful, and in your face, but someone has to do it, right?

I grew up and work in the inner city, so racism and poverty are no stranger to me. I just wish there was more we could do. I guess just being an example to those around us and try to open minds and hearts.

Deborah @ThirtyCreative said...

A refine way to present a sad part of history and current ignorance.

Charlie Parant said...

this was simply a brilliant piece of writing from start to finish.

kez said...

thanks for the comments on my submission and visit to my blog..after 27yrs of marriage think we have it sussed now lol

kez said...

loved your poem puts great images of small time usa in my head ...thank you

James Rainsford said...

This has great impact and an authenticity of expression which gives it a genuinely felt honesty.

tolbert said...

What a cutting commentary on the social status where we all live.I got it from the first sentence to the last...maybe because I didn't "sit on the right side of the tracks". The orphanage I grew up in was on the "white side of town" just across the tracks from the "black side of town" and I learned that "poor can turn white into black"...all it takes is train tracks to separate the two. Thanks for a wonderfully written poem depicting life as it is...even in 2011...

signed...bkm said...

ignorance is sad reality of life...it hangs like a chain on some areas and people....great last stanza...bkm

Eric 'Bubba' Alder said...

Let's hope we'll all learn to turn our backs on Hate. Powerful piece, Brian.

Apryl Gonzales said...

go on, preach it! Can I get an Amen? ;) Love this post!! You convey so well the cultural and dialectic perspectives, and also the heart of a son in a generation removing himself from the perversions of it.

Chasing Tao said...

"...ignorance don't ev'a recognize itself." How sad and true that in 2011 ignorance, intolerance, bigotry and hate continue! Perhaps with you shedding your Light in this Dark Age, some folk may awaken...I can only hope! Kudos!

The Linnet said...

I like this poem, it took a couple of reads to get my head around the language, but it is very clever.

Thanks for sharing :)

Ann Grenier said...

Excellent observations on a sad truth.

arspoetica said...

Wow, this one tells a compelling story-- all-too-real. is there any issue you're not afraid to tackle? :) I found this especially pertinent given all the hoopla over the 150th anniversary of the Civil War & Emancipation going on lately. I think some people don't realize what a present issue this still is. A great write. Thanks for sharing.

Tracie Skarbo said...

Wonderful way of bringing such an important topic to light.

betweenhearts75 said...

"brown was a color faded to absence" ah why do these unusual lines hit so strong...perhaps a certain generation to understanding them...being a more spiritual person rather than in regards to specific religious aspects, but a slight knowledge of...gives it another kind of understanding, sometimes one that doesn't quite understand either....all I know is from heart, do good to one that it should/ eventually will come back...
good and bad in all cultures...too bad we can't subtract all the bad...well done Brian ~April

yellowhousecafe said...

Great use of language...you make this one breathe...love the flow.."cause i like it like that".. and the rhythm never stopped ~

Laura Lynn said...

I love love this poem! I love how you used the southern accent. It really really worked and complimented the poem. It was a great one shot!

Susan said...

An extraordinary expression. That last line will stay with me, and, I imagine, with your other readers. Thanks, Brian.

Susan Komisar Hausman said...

An extraordinary expression.That last line will stay with me, and, I imagine, with your other readers. Thanks, Brian.

randallweiss said...

A strong indictment of prejudice. I love how you've used dialect effectively but not in a cheesy way. Well done, sir.

Alegria Imperial said...

"white was the first color i ever
learned, its various shades..." already this pulled me in, and deeper as I read on to the last line. Powerful stuff, you got here, Brian! And how you use the language, too!

haikulovesongs said...

very powerful ~ it brought back memories from when i was about 7 and we lived in a very tiny town in Texas. even at that age, i couldn't understand why there were entrances for "White" and out back for "Colored." at that age i didn't understand the true ramifications, but i wondered why, if "colored" people had to be kept separate because they were "bad" in some way, why was it okay for white people to eat food cooked by them? i thought the cooks should spit in everybody's food. now i know that they would have been risking their lives if they were ever seen doing such a thing.

"cause we come a long way since
in making less visible that which
we discriminate against"

too true.

Anna said...

"cause we come a long way since
in making less visible..." very powerful words from start to finish. And I agree with the others, that the last line will stay with me. I love this piece.

mrs mediocrity said...

yes, that last line speaks volumes. i like the timeliness, as well as the timelessness of this piece.

Penny said...

deep, powerful and thought provoking. You do an excellent job of getting in the speakers head.

Sorry I didn't get here yesterday, I had a computer virus I didn't want to spread.

Pastor Sharon said...

Over the top! last line says everything!

Luke Prater said...

D o you ever miss? How can you be so prolific and get it right so often? And you don't write short ones all the time either. I envy your energy and level of inspiration you display for your poetry. Maybe I put too much time/energy into other people's but even if i didn't I still would produce half of what you do. Immense

Goofball said...

it's a powerful poem but I miss the link to wolf biermann...clearly I don't know that man well enough to understand