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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

An Adventure In JOY-Snatchin’

My iPod & I cruised in a slow throb around the brown side of town,
Where Lolitas in tube-tops & booty-shorts set flames inside
A papi's cartoon eyes.

Outside the local bodega, old men of espanol descent, style
Straw chapeaus & engage in dominoes while low-riders blast
High decibel Salsa as flashing ojos watch me on
The Sly.

I’m just a vacancy inside my own hotel of thought, too distracted
To care if I happen to wear that darker skin of suspicion.
In some dens, I realize, I am hated by proxy. See, I know
The lingo of assholes. I know how people can silently curse me,
And say fuck you(!)... with a shrug of their shoulder.

But I was casually shopping for JOY. I said, JOY! Damn it!

No, not the dish-washing detergent!

No! Not that shit most folks rent in cans of Bud or
Heineken! No! I don't need a six-pack of Corona, mi amigo!
Joy! Felice!

Umm… Can a brotha get an interpreter up in this piece?

Apparently, they were out of stock, again! I copped my usual
Newports, said gracias... &... I stubbornly tipped eastward.
I was seeking the simplicity of JOY in a cool summer's breeze,
In a smile from an aging stranger, in a sighting of swift
Black girl's feet jumping in double-dutch rhythms: yobaby,
Yobaby, yo!

I was seeking JOY, because sometimes I can't find it in the noise of
My thoughts, in my iPod, or in Jill Scott’s voice. I could not find it
In the arms that sometimes soothe my so-called savaged beast.
I could not see it in the blue-gold-burgundy flaming sunset, or in
Those denim-clad nymphettes & mascara-wearing Angels downtown, yo.

I could not taste it in that surreptitious Rasta’s product
After the sale goes down... could not find it in that slim joint
Of light that sometimes keeps me strangled in the scenery of
Empty laughter & coughing Cadillacs, low-riders, st. toughs, &
Nubile Lolitas in tube-tops & booty-shorts setting
Flames inside a papi's cartoon eyes.

The moral of this shit: Joy-snatching & Hell-catching
Are sometimes just concepts that collide like drunken
Planets out of orbit, out of time with this waltz of life, out
Of tune with the cosmic synchronicity, out of step with the
Routine universality, out of rhythm, the rhythm of the time
And space continuum.

JOY is a rare commodity. Maybe it's inherent in our chemistry
And maybe... it isn’t. But maybe only fools & dreamers believe
They can purchase it. And if you’re irrational enough to go
Looking for it, sometimes the whole damn world will shrug
And simply say, Fuck you! with its shoulders.

Me? I’m determined to snatch a little piece anyway, once
I can decipher its language, read it in a kind stranger’s eyes,
Figure out its handshake, discover its natural high, & simply
Learn to roll with it. Meanwhile, I’m pretty sure it's embedded
Somewhere inside that street corner symphony of my soul.


copyright © 2010 by L.M. Ross

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


Some misshapen thing w/a mean tattoo
Some chic, urban island of random cool
Some street corner cat steady screaming: “REVOLUTION!”
Some mythic steely smile, w/ its front teeth missing...

Some blues-chick blonde diggin’ on black sounds...
Some den of poor poets all tryna be profound...
Some Jeep's street banger w/ a hip-hop fury.
Some downbeat varicose bluecity alley.

Some screaming people howling how their lives are so shitty.
Some shafts of pink neon painting everybody... pretty.

Some east village hipster decked in all black drag...
Some tripped-out tranny, keeps vogueing all fab
Some ditzy debutante on the cover of a mag...
Some pissed-off black man who can’t hail a cab.

Some carefree limousine flying down Fifth Ave...
Some subway atrocity, but what else is new?
Some Wall Street slick thief finally paying his dues...
Some poor soul in winter, cries, devoid of any shoes.

Some glossy picture postcard you had as a kid...
Some whore's fishnets, revealing everything she did.
Some terrible sickness that's left unchecked...
Some two-bit priest w/ a Messiah Complex.

Some bleeding fist swingin in some ig’nit beatdown
Some new minority w/ his face on the ground...
Some canyon full of sirens, w/ not a single cop around
Some scream that gets drowned by the constant citysound...

Some black poet cat that keeps taking steady notes
‘Bout a tribe of soulless eyes… devoid of any hope.
We joke, we smoke, we sip on our Snapple
While choking on the core of what’s called:
“The Big Apple.”


copyright © 2010 by L.M. Ross

Friday, July 16, 2010

Bon Voyage, Mon Vonetta...

One of my very first and most lasting cinematic crushes has sadly made her transition. Actress Vonetta McGee, who appeared in such films as "Melinda," “Blacula,” “Hammer”,“Shaft in Africa,” and the Clint Eastwood thriller "The Eiger Sanction" died last Friday, on July 9th, in Berkeley, Calif.

She was 65 years old.

She was blessed with a remarkable presence, and it's hard to say what it was about her that initiated my boyhood crush. I just liked her, and she drew me into her silent spell, much like a rose draws you in with its singular fragrance. Even in an industry so thick with a populace of pretty people, she possessed one of those stunning faces and shimmering talents that stood out, and like some haunting hypnotist, she made you remember her. She was not only compelling and very beautiful, in a quiet, non-showy way, but she had loads of subtext written inside those glorious eyes of hers.

In “Blacula” (1972), Ms. McGee portrayed the love interest of Mamuwalde (William Marshall), an African prince who, after an ill-fated trip to Transylvania centuries earlier, re-emerges in modern Los Angeles as a member of the thirsty undead.

Reviewing the film in The New York Times, Roger Greenspun called Ms. McGee “just possibly the most beautiful woman currently acting in movies.”


Personally, I liked that this critic didn't place her inside that marginal professional ghetto of some all-too-common yet limited racial context, like 'the most beautiful black woman', but instead, he rightly acknowledged her universal appeal.

In “Hammer” (1972), Ms. McGee appeared opposite Fred Williamson in the tale of a young black prizefighter. In “Shaft in Africa” (1973), the third installment in the private-eye series starring Richard Roundtree, she played an emir’s daughter.

Ms. McGee’s other films include “The Kremlin Letter” (1970); “Detroit 9000” (1973); “Thomasine & Bushrod” (1974); and “The Eiger Sanction” (1975), directed by and starring Clint Eastwood.

Lawrence Vonetta McGee, named for her father, was born in San Francisco on Jan. 14, 1945. While studying pre-law at San Francisco State College, she became involved in community theater. She left college before graduating to pursue an acting career.

Ms. McGee’s first film work was in Italy, where her credits include the 1968 films “Faustina,” in which she played the title role, and “Il Grande Silenzio” (“The Great Silence”). After seeing her Italian work, Sidney Poitier arranged for her to be cast in her first American film, “The Lost Man” (1969), in which he starred.

In later years she always maintained her beauty and quiet elegance. She would have recurring roles on several television shows, among them “Hell Town,” “Bustin’ Loose,” “L.A. Law” and “Cagney & Lacey,” on which she portrayed the wife of Detective Mark Petrie, played by Carl Lumbly. Ms. McGee and Mr. Lumbly were married in 1986.

Besides Mr. Lumbly, Ms. McGee is survived by their son, Brandon Lumbly; her mother, Alma McGee; three brothers, Donald, Richard and Ronald; and a sister, also named Alma McGee.

Though she was associated in public memory with the genre, Ms. McGee deplored the term “blaxploitation.” It wasn’t the “black” that troubled her — that was a source of pride. It was the “exploitation.”

“She was constantly a person who preferred roles where women got to make choices,” Ms. Nayo said on Friday. “Where women got to be strong.”

* * * *

Rest in Peace, Lovely Sister. I shall always remember you with a certain youthful smile inside my heart.

One Love.


Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Between Fractured Verse and Poetry

The following was written, after someone asked me the pointed question: "So, who are you, really?"

Between Fractured Verse and Poetry

I co-exist with bits
And pieces of me,
I am the stuff of
Fractured verse
And poetry.
Open door and barbed-wired fence,
Comic relief,
And dramedy.
Half-Asian eyes and Negroid lips
Half-conscious Hip-Hop,
Part Jazz purist. I
Breathe in rhythms
And gasp through lungs
That pace and race thru
Conflicted emotions.

All heart
And bone
And bullshit parts
Chronic bum, and work of
Art… I am
Full of soft blues
And vivid reds, and
Could use a little more

I am full of visions and
Still-born dreams,
Pristine memories,
Joy and Pain…
Thick with quiet
Words and screaming
Muted expression
And hovering

Full of stars losing
Their vital shine
Like black holes
Dead… or slowly


But I co-exist with
Bits of me
And sure-footedness pimps
My uncertainty.
Half-broken man,
Part ravenous child,
Fed on cannibis,
Muse and an innate
Dose of wildness.
Part reticent kid,
And verbose man… I am
Contradiction’s poster child.

Behind this gaze
Behind the maze
Inside this flesh
A primal haze
Of fear and bravery
Freedom and slavery
I am all of these...

And you can't save me...

From these
No trespass signs and
Fences protecting me
And what’s mine. I am

This selfish work,
Of complex parts.
A Cosmic dancer
A work of
Black Art
So just
Scratch the
Surface…and you’ll find

A piece of me and
My partial heart…

Lodged somewhere
Between tears...snot
And fits of laughter
Coltrane bleats...
And emotions fractured
Upon my tongue
In stuttered verse and
Still-born riffs of


copyright © 2010 by L.M. Ross