5.28.14: Maya Angelou died today. I’m sitting in my grandfather’s rocking chair (itself history,) thinking on Angelou’s legacy, and entering into this page with her passing. 

 

The Feel Trio is, as the title announces, separated into three sections. I hesitate to use the term “separated,” as “trio” is a term that conveys connectivity, relationship, even fellowship. And to my reading of the book I carry my fellowship to many a matter—poetry ancestors (folk that grew me,) Ellison’s yams and black bulb under-groundedness, the raunch of Chaucer roadside narratives, my Southernness, and, not least, Notley’s chugging-on-it motherbody dankness. As Baraka might’ve phrased it, I “bring all a what I got.” Moten’s verse references the lived and the living right now

 

I’ma run, I’mo run, I’m gon’ run to the city / of refuse […] (3)

 

we get twisted / in the diagram. we know the score. we got a plan. (3)

 

so it wd be this way. you want it to be one way. that they wd get / a negro, look, a negro, we got a negro. there’s a drone that looks like what we / want, a pretty wife, a prayer book for my passport, blew up / leaving where we stay and all we got. We can have some jobs, / can we come to dinner? we want some money. we settled for / a negro. (30) 

 

which reminds me of the way sal said this is my pizzeria, against / his own rule in love and // say / again and again and / then say come again. (39)

 

how do we read this? this is what it’s for. to claim catastrophe […] (59)

 

In these poems I find fret and bone, the stakes being matters personal and political (and the political become the personal). What may not be as immediately tangible is the visceral connectivity of these lyric prose poems to feeling: disappointment, resentment, desire, hunger, aspiration, etc. Here is the kind (of) marrow that Langston Hughes puts forth in “The Negro Artist and The Racial Mountain”:

 

Most of my own poems are racial in theme and treatment, derived from the life I know. In many of them I try to grasp and hold some of the meanings and rhythms of jazz. 

 

With the same unbinding and idiosyncratic raveling that is crafted in jazz and the blues, Moten has made a speaking that reads as if filtered through one composer’s confident score then replayed in various registers, instruments, and genre of sound. This range of dialect and diction is evident early in the text and sets my expectations for what language can do throughout The Feel Trio. What is vital to such play is that a foundational structure remains intact around these occasions of refrain and improvisation. 

 

say you wanna blow? just let me blow. blow my thayang baby blow my thang wa

ditty say you wanna say say you wanna say say you wanna say say watch me say

I vocoded baby, I blew holes in fading, I grew cultures in subterfuge. the effect

was enfolding twelve streams of base six digits like ba dc fe h that start to curl

in front, corner, harbor, verge, and counter. (7)

 

The speech issues, as if from a man’s mouth, without transitional syntax. One needn’t transition into or out of the vital words he has with himself. As Moten’s reader my role is to fall into step with the utterance, which I have, returning to the book many times to dip in and digest. Each time I bring forward bounty. I bring forward myself ~ bounty to Moten’s a/musicality, red-eyed funkness, and junk we muck in. His culture attests. What comes back to me, the line that echoes, as something I want to be and certainly have been is this speaker: “I can wonder who I am, wake up beautiful, and know everything.” (21)

—CM Burroughs

 
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