The owner of Moe’s asked me, and my friends, to do a night of poetry reading, only. I had read my poems at the Granary four years ago, with Kenny Reed backing me up. His wife, Marilyn sang there, as did her daughter, Nisha. Because there was so much going on in the world, I was blogging like crazy. I found no time to write poems, so I turned two of my blogs into poems and read them while Stone Cold Jazz played in the background.
The Baby-faced Rose is about the woman I interviewed at Black Lives Matter rally. Ding Dong is about Krysta Albert defaming Black Miss Oregon. She got me in a world of trouble with the Choir.
The Friggen Eye of God is about a glowing eyeball.
With no hope of ever seeing Belle Burch again, I wrote a poem she inspired. In Ken Kesey Square I told her she reminded me of Botticelli’s ‘Venus in a Half Shell’. I was not a labeled a “stalker” a sexual deviant, a sub-human, at the time. I still owned – human qualities. I sent this poem to Marilyn in a e-mail two days after I beheld Belle.
Here is Nisha, Marilyn’s daughter reading Rena’s poem.
I was confused by the FB message from the Director of the Inspirational Sounds Gospel Choir that forbid me to mention them and their “friends” in the controversy about the director of the Festival of Eugene using racist language. I was so proud of this choir when they stood up for Soromundi, a Lesbian choir, and held their event elsewhere, after the church they practice in, refused to have anything to do with a group of Lesbians, I took this video and had a spiritual experience that bid me to post on Kathy Vrzak’s facebook.
“WHITE SILENCE IS VIOLENCE”
Turn down the sound on the Kesey Square video, and behold her, there, surrounded by the poor and homeless. It is Lucia, who is called Mimi for reasons unknown. If only I were young again! I was young again. Like a thief, she stole my old age away. Is this a crime?
Belle asks me what my blog is about. I tell her;
“I am a poet and artist, and a Bohemian. And I’m writing the history of them; why they should survive; and not be persecuted.”
“We can talk! What is your phone number?”
We did s Opera in the Square. We had music accompanying us. The muses were, and still are, with us!
“My name is Mimi. I make a living making lilies and roses.”
Marcello is painting while Rodolfo gazes out of the window. They complain of the cold. In order to keep warm, they burn the manuscript of Rodolfo’s drama. Colline, the philosopher, enters shivering and disgruntled at not having been able to pawn some books. Schaunard, the musician of the group, arrives with food, wine and cigars. He explains the source of his riches: a job with an eccentric English gentleman, who ordered him to play his violin to a parrot until it died. The others hardly listen to his tale as they set up the table to eat and drink. Schaunard interrupts, telling them that they must save the food for the days ahead: tonight they will all celebrate his good fortune by dining at Cafe Momus, and he will pay.
The Baby-faced Rose of White Privilege
I chose to capture her image
because of how she looked
innocuous, vulnerable, innocent.
She was a church mouse
with a baby-face
She did not stand out.
I did not understand
that this is the face that launched a thousand ships
There are tanks, battleships, jets,
squad cars, courts of law, and SWAT teams
ready to defend her on a moments notice.
Even predictors leave her alone.
She is an untouchable.
She is the epitome of White Privilege
and tells me so.
I didn’t quite get what that meant
until I heard her say it
She brought tears to my eyes
after I watched the video of her I took.
I saw her as the cutest baby you ever saw.
I saw her as a pre-teen shopping at the mall
with her best friends and parents credit card.
I saw her at that all-white vacation spot.
I saw her straight A report card she got
I saw her letter she was accepted to the University of O
I saw her putting that ring in her nose.
I saw her carefully selecting her hat with the rose.
I saw her setting out in the world
prepared to be someone
You know how that goes!
I saw her studying what that somebody was going to be.
I saw her making adult choices all by herself.
I saw her put her childish things behind her.
I saw her heading to this rally
so she could be seen
What struck me, was
she was not invisible to me!
I saw her making a stand that would affect her the rest of her life.
I saw her feeling she had found her people
and was with the right crowd.
I saw that she was happy with the choices she had made – thus far.
I saw that she was proud that she cared.
I saw that she had done everything that Philando had done.
The quest to be someone
is not easy.
Why is it only white folks
are allowed to make mistakes?
Being a human being
Being true to yourself
begins with understanding what that means.
Philando is her peer.
They are almost identical. But for one thing
the color of their skin
and, armies were sent over there,
battleships pounded the shore,
jets flew over head,
unloading their bombs
and the SWAT team poured out of their urban tanks.
All these things happened so she would feel safe
would feel protected
would know someones got her back.
who dare blame those armed men
This is the beautiful baby-face that launched a thousand ships
and, she only has eyes for Philando
It is he who she identifies with.
She has empathy for him.
He is her peer.
perhaps they were destined to meet,
one day. Some day
when Justice arrives
and we are all served
the promise of the gods
She had just a small rose on her plain cap.
She wore no makeup.
When did she stop looking in a mirror
while she put on her lipstick.
And that ring in her nose
Her badge of defiance.
Was it enough to get her killed?
Don’t go for your wallet, Hon
Don’t go for your gun
Don’t wear colorful clothing
Don’t have your day in the sun.
The dull baby-face rose
looks like she never gets any attention.
Baby-faced Philando got more attention then he wanted
way more attention
then he deserved!
His mother sent him out of the house warning him
giving him lessons on how be invisible,
and what he should do if he is
Those loving lessons
were of no avail.
here come a nervous man to his window
with a loaded gun
Young people. Students of life.
I feel for them. I had to walk away.
All the lessons are hard.
But, she was allowed to blend in
into the crowd
where no one knows who she is
where she is – in the world
because no one asks
for her IDENTI-FICATION
I spotted her right off.
The pathos of it all.
This great tragedy
this modern day Western
captured with hand-held cell-phone
taken out of its holster.
Many shots rang out in Texas
over a broken red light
And it wasn’t dark, yet.
The sun was just about to set
“Why are you here?” I asked.
“People are getting killed, and nothing is happening.”
White folks expect Justice to be done
for only them.
Denying Justice to others
is their lily-white privilege
there can be no Peace.
And when their brand of Peace breaks out
and the reports of the long-rifles
echo in their canyon of lies
they play their favored game
the Baby-faced Victim
with a broken wing
La Belle Rose
Jon Gregory Presco
Dedicated to my Muse, Belle Burch
Poetry is the Truth
When I was a gifted youth
I do not recall if I studied the artist Sandro Botticelli.
When a man
I wrote my version of ‘The Birth of Venus’
and did a painting of my muse
coming out of the sea.
I must have neglected this great Renaissance Artist,
and his beloved Muse – until now!
But, Since I beheld her, my Belle
and compared her to Simonetta Cattaneo de Candia Vespucci,
do I now behold all the clues of the petals
and the thread
that have brought me through the labyrinth of time,
to adore her once again.
And she recognizes me!
Centuries ago I was buried at her feet
in order to continue my long vigilance,
for she was only asleep.
One day she will awaken, and the City of Flowers
will again bask in her unparelled beauty.
Bella! Mon Belle!
Following the Renaissance of the Miller Brothers
to the top of the hill in the lost city of Fairmount,
I came to the crossroads of time.
When I saw the intersection of Flora and Fairmount,
I knew it would be a matter of days
before I was with my Sleeping Belle, once again,
once upon a time
She is the one I came here for.
After finding the lost tombstone of George Melvin Miller,
the founder of Florence,
I began to see the grand design.
When she came across the piazza de Keasy
while the minstrel sang a song by the Grateful Dead
I had my rose at ready.
When I handed it to her
I heard the lovers complain
Where is my Belle Rose!
This is the Renaissance Rose
that my ancestor employed to write his name,
When I told Belle what kind of work I do,
I described my painting of a woman coming out of the sea.
Many have asked me who she is. Now, I can say;
“She is Belle, the most beautiful woman in Florence.”
We will go there, soon,
to behold the sea, a shell, and the foam
at La Giostra
a jousting tournament was held at the Piazza Santa Croce.
The gallant knight, Giuliano
entered the field bearing a banner
on which was a picture of Simonetta as a helmeted Pallas Athene
Her image was painted by Botticelli himself.
Underneath was the French inscription
La Sans Pareille, meaning “The unparalleled one”.
From then on Simonetta became known
as the most beautiful woman in Florence,
the most beautiful woman of the Renaissance.
I salute thee!
Poetry and Jazz at The Granary.
|photo by Jon Stinnett James “Izzy” Whetstine, left, and drummer Kenny Reed take a break from filming a documentary on the making of ‘Animal House’ Friday. Whetstine played a janitor responsible for dealing with a dead horse in the movie.