Monday, January 7, 2013

George Preston

                                                     (Photo by Petra Richterova) 

For Baba Lopez Santos Santos

Ode to the Venezuelan Basball Players Whose Names 

I silently spelled, hearing the first time as a child
exotic syllables of A-pa-ri-ci-o and Carr-as-quel 
called Chico whom I think was the first one 
and that Habanero Minoso 
with the name of Orestes an ancient Greek
Hero. Something ...

about the colonized colonizing the colonizer 
already gelling inchoate sensibilities, my head 
day dreaming a Myronian flex as I tossed the sphere
into the air and pounded my glove. Years later

when I read Salmon Rushdie’s “Shame” 
turning Anglo phrases even Colonel Blimp would fail to flail
into something as famously infamous 
as “Oh yes the League of Nations must insist
on Peace except of course in case of War....” 
or reading Naipaul bend the River Zaire 
into an aqueous Gordian Knot  pouring it 
into the mouth of the Avon and Willy The Shake
wakes up from one of his naps,
takes a long draught of Negro Modelo and says, 
"yo bro  there are more
in Hell and Earth than are dreamt 
in our philosophy....” So, take that! 

Something about the colonized colonizing the colonizer--
400 years after the finding of the New World
Odysseus swaggers off the prow 
of Derrick Walcott’s thumb
and ‘spikes’ Reginald Martinez Jackson’s bat
with the aplomb of an anchor heaved
between the Straits of Boricua and Quisqueya.

Something about when Kwame Nkrumah answered--- 
Botha who said “ I know of no African who spoke Latin
---in a letter written in  Orphic black hand,

and all this coming  to me now nearly
at age 70 because I heard that late  this afternoon
in the bottom of the 10th, 2 down,
2 strikes and no balls and Jeter on 2nd
Bobby Abreu lifts a 98 MPH-er
sinking with ‘late life’ treachery
in the lower Hades of the strike zone, the sphere
arcing and falling as a meteor exploding
against the wall in ‘death valley’ precisely between
the 385  and 403 foot sign boards
to break up that game and 40K fanaticos
went home happy and would’ve anyway
even if we lost but we didn’t because
when my car broke down on Accra -Cape Coast Road
in the shadows of Fort Anomabo
where 400 years ago I was bound
for Montserrat, Barbados, Jamaica and beyond
and  the Fante mechanic said to his tools,
 “No fear! I go fixum!
White man, car he go makum,  
Africa man he go fix um pass all.”

George Preston’s poems have appeared in journals such as Beat Coast East, Black Renaissance Noire, and Dialectical Anthropology. His "Oda a Nelson Mandela" was solicited as the keynote poem at the opening of the Festival Mandela in Santo Domingo 2010. His career in art history and criticism includes installation of the African Hall of the Brooklyn Museum in1968; Curator of the America 500 exhibition for the government of Argentina in 1992, in which he replaced the usual critical catalog essay with Belle Lettre style poems for each work of art. He is a recipient of the prestigious Editor’s Choice Award for Outstanding Achievement in Poetry. His career in poetry started with his founding of The Artist’s Studio. In the book Kerouac and Friends, the photo journalist Fred W. Mc Darrah wrote the following: "George Nelson Preston had a storefront ― Artist’s Studio at 48 East 3rd Street where he orchestrated the most important poetry readings ever held in New York. One historic program on Sunday February 15, 1959, included Kerouac, Ginsberg, Corso, Orlovsky, LeRoi Jones, Garcia Villa, [and] Ted Joans."​

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