Academy of American Poets

Thank you, oh Academy, for recognizing me:

https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poet/stephen-cramer

 

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New poems up at The Lake

check ’em out:

http://www.thelakepoetry.co.uk/poetry/stephen-cramer/

 

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Licking Picassos

Well, the truth is finally out. Kind of. Here’s an article about curators licking paintings at the Museum of Modern Art:

To read about others who may or may not be licking paintings at MoMA, check out this poem from Tongue & Groove:

The Painters at MoMA

We view their work the most,
though it never inspires
the dazzle of camera flash

like the hyperbolic wheeling,
the furious burn & swirl

of that famously heaving
night sky. Their work is never
complete, & I’m not talking

rumors of unsatisfied masters
entering the galleries

with a crimson-lit brush
stashed beneath a coat
to secretly retouch a delirious

sunset purchased years ago.
No: I’m talking the weekly

after-hours revisions,
the men toting paint-rollers
to touch up fingerprint & scuff

on the bare stretches of wall
between a sleeping gypsy

& Gauguin’s Tahiti. I’m talking
the only painters in these galleries
whose one ambition is pure

erasure, whose pinnacle of art
to blend in. Imagine the muscle

of their fluid push & pull,
the effort behind their continuous
mural to anonymity. Let us,

this once, praise Santos & David,
those names no one scrawls,

the brushstrokes no one copies
onto the blank of a sketchpad,
praise, this night, John & Andreas,

their pure heights spattered
with a series of minor frames.

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Black & Blue

 

i. Philando Castile (July 6, 2016)

 

In the livestreamed Facebook video

       his fiancee reports from the passenger

seat that “police just shot my boyfriend for no

       apparent reason.” Her 4 year old daughter

 

squirms in the back. Pulled over for a broken

       taillight, Castile told the officer he had

a permit for his concealed weapon,

       & now blood scrawls its inscrutable maps

 

on his white T as he peers emptily

       upward. “Please don’t tell me this, Lord,”

his girlfriend pleads. “Please, officer, don’t tell me

       you just did this to him.” Outside now, officers

 

draw guns, order her to her knees. From where it lies,

her dropped cell catches a uniform-blue sky.

 

 

ii. Alton Sterling (July 5, 2016)

 

The parking lot of the Triple S

       Food Mart in Baton Rouge: Sterling is selling

CDs & DVDs (he was known locally as

       “CD Man”). The grainy but telling

 

cellphone video of the shooting, posted

       online by a witness, shows officers

tackling Sterling onto a car’s hood

       & rolling him to the pavement, where

 

they pin him beneath the car’s front bumper.

       Two gun shots, & the bystander drops his cell,

panning his car’s the zebra skin seats. Three more

       shots fired. The officers’ body cameras “fell

 

off” during the incident, but “the officers feel they

were completely justified,” according to the DA.

 

 

iii. Walter Scott (April 4, 2015)

 

Scott, a 50-year-old forklift operator

        who happened to be studying massage

therapy, was stopped one night for

       a broken brake light. A bystander’s cell footage

 

showed the officer chasing the unarmed

       Scott to a lot behind a pawn shop

where he pulled out his gun & fired,

       from just 15 feet away, eight shots

 

at Scott’s back. According to the coroner’s

       report Scott was struck five times: once in the upper

buttocks, three in the back, & once on an ear.

       The officer, claiming he feared for

 

his life, handcuffed the dying man. Some cops

who don’t see brake lights don’t know when to stop.

 

 

iv. Tamir Rice (November 22, 2014)

 

A caller reported a black male sitting

       on a swing in the park of a Cleveland

recd center, the black male pointing

       a gun at people, though the caller said

 

twice that the gun was “probably fake.” A

       surveillance video showed Rice on

the grounds, pacing the park, waving the replica

       gun when a patrol car sped across the lawn

 

& skidded to a stop. The two officers

       reported that Rice reached toward his

waistband. One officer leaped out of the car

       & in two seconds shot the twelve-year-old Rice

 

from 10 feet away. The toy gun had been lent

to him minutes before by a friend.

 

 

v. Laquan McDonald (October 20, 2014)

 

The grainy dash cam video

       from the police’s cruiser shows the 17- 

year-old McDonald holding a 3-inch knife, shows

       officers confronting McDonald, then

 

shows McDonald walking away after

       several commands to drop the knife. In 15

seconds he was shot 16 times. An officer,

       ten feet away, used the maximum capacity

 

of his semi-automatic, though McDonald

       fell to the ground immediately

after the first shot. The officer had

       been on the scene for less than 30

 

seconds. This is restraint: he didn’t shoot for

the first six seconds after exiting his car.

 

 

vi. Jonathan Ferrell (September 14, 2013)

 

After an accident in North Carolina

       late one fall night, Ferrell, a former

defensive back on Florida

       A&M’s team, stepped out of his car

 

& approached some houses, knocking on doors

       for help. Three officers arrived at the scene

after reports of a possible burglar.

       When Ferrell tried to approach them, one

 

of the officers fired a taser & missed.

       Another then opened fire on Ferrell,

landing no less than ten shots on his

       body. A stranger ringing your bell

 

might not be the most typical of your

nights, but most burglars don’t knock on your door.

 

 

vii. Anonymous & Anonymous (between 1882 & 1930)

 

In 48 years in the states of Florida,

       & Tennessee, & Arkansas,

Kentucky, North Carolina, Georgia

       Mississippi, & Louisiana,

 

Alabama, & South Carolina (just

       ten states) 2,500 African

Americans were lynched, an average of almost

       one hanging per week. (Lynch law: punishment

 

without a trial.) Some of the cited reasons:

       trying to vote, being homeless, injuring

livestock, looking suspicious, throwing stones,

       practicing spirituality, being

 

too loud, gambling. Nothing is new. You

know this: nothing’s ever new. We must make things new.

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Alton Sterling (July 5, 2016)

Alton Sterling (July 5, 2016)

 

The parking lot of the Triple S

       Food Mart in Baton Rouge: Sterling is selling

CDs & DVDs (he was known locally as

       “CD Man”). The grainy but telling

 

cellphone video of the shooting, posted

       online by a witness, shows officers

tackling Sterling onto a car’s hood

       & rolling him to the pavement, where

 

they pin him beneath the car’s front bumper.

       Two gun shots, & the bystander drops his cell,

panning his car’s the zebra skin seats. Three more

       shots fired. The officers’ body cameras “fell

 

off” during the incident, but “the officers feel they

were completely justified,” according to the DA.

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What Can We Do About This?

There’s a lot that we can do. One thing I can do is write poems. This will not be the last on this subject:

 

Philando Castile (July 6, 2016)

 

In the livestreamed Facebook video

       his fiancee reports from the passenger

seat that “police just shot my boyfriend for no

       apparent reason.” Her 4 year old daughter

 

squirms in the back. Pulled over for a broken

       taillight, Castile told the officer he had

a permit for his concealed weapon,

       & now blood scrawls its inscrutable maps

 

on his white T as he peers emptily

       upward. “Please don’t tell me this, Lord,”

his girlfriend pleads. “Please, officer, don’t tell me

       you just did this to him.” Outside now, officers

 

draw guns, order her to her knees. From where it lies,

her dropped cell catches a uniform-blue sky.

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Stellar Bone Music Review in BookTrib

 

JPEG Bone Front Only

Check it out here: http://booktrib.com/2016/05/the-4-unexpected-books-that-were-reading-again-and-again/

 

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