“Something I must do”

I’m beginning to learn about the world of spoken word, which is becoming mainstream after decades of senescence. Maybe spoken word is a natural reaction to times of overwhelming straight-and-narrow thinking. I’ve been very involved in the new podslam project, which features 15 poets, performing their poetry in iPod-compatible videos with great production values. You really ought to check them out at the PodSlam site. You can subscribe to the podslam’s forum (blog) here. The ‘casts are embedded in the site feed and you can subscribe in iTunes.

The first podSlam is presented by Jeff Campbell, AKA “Apostle“. His message, which you can read at his Slam of the Day entry, is entitled “Something I must do”. And that’s where I think I’m barely beginning to get it. All but one of these poets is African-American, and so you hear the kinds of cultural grievances that anyone would voice as a member of that community. But I’m sensing something else in these lyrics: a determination for self-determination. In that sense, these poets seem to be taking more responsibility for themselves than most Americans, whatever our background:

In every step in every mile in the path of my journey
Spirits walk with me and turn me in the right direction
Protection from danger, they help me to control my anger
You see this world is full of stress and I confess
That I haven’t done enough how much time do I have left?
On this planet I never take it for granted
I examine my impact and make plans to expand it
Whether I’m beatin’ the concrete of the city streets
Or up in the mountains climbin’ 14 thousand ft. peaks

Yes, the PodSlam is based in Denver, and there may be something to the proximity of 14,000 foot peaks that inspires anyone (it’s known that Colorado has the lowest obesity levels of any state). I experienced that, living in Denver for a couple of decades, and wrote previously how Denver’s been a source of tough-minded, edgy voices since Neal Cassady basically invented the genre and almost instantly broke the mold.

Check out the podslam. Here’s Apostle’s poem, and here’s a direct link to his video.

Something I must do

In every step in every mile in the path of my journey
Spirits walk with me and turn me in the right direction
Protection from danger, they help me to control my anger
You see this world is full of stress and I confess
That I haven’t done enough how much time do I have left?
On this planet I never take it for granted
I examine my impact and make plans to expand it
Whether I’m beatin the concrete of the city streets
Or up in the mountains climbin 14 thousand ft. peaks
I’m shinin connecting to the energy of the galaxy
Cause mathematically it matches my anatomy
It feels like the universe is inside me
Relatives who have past on stand right beside me
And they whisper the secrets of the ages
And they guide my pen across pages 

It’s like the planets and stars align when I rhyme
And the universe speaks through me directly
I’m tuned in to frequencies
Hidden beyond their comprehension yet subliminally
Our bodies understand these commands
We dance for ritual purposes it’s advanced
Expressions of the culture connected to eternity
Memories of a past life return to me
And I swear you were right there in the cipher
We conjured deities with drums to ignite the
Rage inside of us all until we burned it down
Yet somewhere deep within the ground
Are the traces of our DNA?
It manifests in every generation in a different way
So now I’m back on display
From the plantation to the prison most us us on our way

But somebody’s watchin over me
guidin me ridin for me on the other side
There’s somethin I must do before I die
The ancestors provide the purpose of my life. 

9:39:32 PM    

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