NYU Black Renaissance Noire NYU Black Renaissance Noire V. 16.1 - Page 82

By KAMAU DAÁOOD PAPA, The Lean Griot (for Horace Tapscott, pianist, arranger, composer, mentor, community arts activist, beloved patriarch) i am Horace Tapscott my fingers are dancing grassroots i do not fit into form, i create form my ears are radar charting the whispers of my ancestors i seek the divinity in outcasts, the richness of rebels i will pray for you on this snaggle-toothed piano songs for the unsung whose lineage was fed to sharks in the Atlantic i will concertize you into trance, here in this garage conjure spirits that will sing you into remembrance on this piano so far out of tune it open doors to other worlds i will climb inside this piano searching for our history i will assemble a choir of unborn voices to teach you what the future sounds like i will love you with the warmth of the African sun i walk these sacred streets remembering kola nuts and cowrie shells and how well our uncles wore their trousers i am Horace Tapscott and i am not for sale the eyes look inward as the story is told voices painted in the dignity of old photographs we have seen blood on the piano keys cobalt blue chains, slurred notes as truth wells up in the corner of eyes 80 our richness like honey stuck to the tips of singing fingers with palms held up in gestures of prayer smoke thick as frankincense dance on pilgrimage fade like golden echoes at the porch of our ears to have seen life moving smooth as a red dress on a purple spirit on a slow yellow day cracked open the moment like children laughing their mouths held wide trying to catch the sun remembering when our ways were straight and rooted when we did what we had to do with what we had to do it with under the sheltering wings of family walking lines to our selves with spirit guides elders correcting children the way folks held their heads the gathering of smiles oh singing fingers, oh swelling fire in the chest we should know such joy a thousand eyes watching children grow next to flowers as old ones pray over food where men with shiny shoes, swap tales and work songs men knotted at the gut level in a common pool of sweat remove their hats to pray, remember and women form bands of healing quilting rhythms and tucking them into an ark of stars sailing through a storm of hardships deep changes bring out the beauty of a song where babies hide their fingers in gray beards weaving teardrops and laughter into a bright cloth of collected wisdom etched in multi-colored ink on memories’ wall love would hover in a room like the scent of good cooking and fall down like warm hands on the backs of travelers a family was a circle of love a community was a family we did what we had to do with what we had to do it with