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Poet-In-Residence, For the Record

Friday, May 02, 2008 - 09:11 AM

On Wednesday we were thrilled to have spoken word artist Roland Legiardi-Laura join us in the studio (hour one, hour two) to help mark National Poetry Month. Each hour, Roland composed and read poems based on the other segments on our show. By popular demand, here are the "riff poems" he read on the air:

Working Definition of Spontaneous Riff Poetry
(sometimes called)
Inter-reactive versification

The inner blast furnace of your Homeric soul
blown open by
the uncontrollable need to bleed what others might read
as you spill your hot brain’s iambic seed
upon the earthen ears of your peers—both near and far,
Over the radio car…



Half of what you earn goes to rent

“Its the Failure of Government on All levels”*
The failure of government,
The failure of democracy to be democratic
The right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness—
How can you enjoy your right to live if you can’t pay to keep the rain out of your shoes?
No roof, no floor, no bathroom door.

Half your income on rent
One third to the taxman
Adds up to 83 percent.

    Presenting: A bardic math equation
    100 minus 83 equal 17
    17% for, food, clothing, health, transportation—

Can’t eat, can’t read, can’t think, can’t do
in a can do country.
This is not a small problem—
This is indentured servitude
This is poverty anti-pulchritude, dude…
This is the wrong conversation:
Make the pain for the poorest just tolerable enough so they wont rebel.
What is this strange odor that I smell?
Forget this well-intentioned government tweak
Break the bill
Grab the eagle by its crushed beak…
Give homes to the poor---
Give them their chance to own a piece of our national dream.
We all suffer from their anguish—
Think of creativity lost, energy wasted to just get by
To simply live in order to one day, die…
A nation needs all of its people—whole and healthy.

Congressman Anthony Weiner
Things are getting leaner and leaner
We need complete transformation
Not a shiny new vacuum cleaner…

*Quote from Congressman Anthony Weiner


Kelly’s Heroes

Tell me about my heroes—sweet Kelly,
master of the bereft.

On Long Island, fertile gift of an ancient
Melting-grinding mother glacier…
Left to its red children
Force-Borrowed by pale invaders
Held in trust
Til the oceans rust…

…Tell me how the real heroes suffer
in silence—
These are not my Baseball heroes, or my football heroes
Or the war-wounded shipped home in pieces…

These are the secret heroes.
The working class heroes who came
to feel the surf wash the mud from their souls.
Broken by that ancient grinding glacier of foreclosure.

That should be enough to qualify for
A hero’s medal but not for my heroes…

The heroes of Shirley—they fight against the creeping mystery death—the death of a thousand rads—dripped into water, leached into soil, wafted into breath--cooked into every Sunday family home grown duckling lunch…hugged and held and shared with every kiss, every dusty tear.

How do these heroes fight the battle for us?
Not by dying a victim’s death.
But by living on the battlefield of ‘truth against power’

Tell me Kelly how can we master the heroic burden of
dark knowledge? How can we win against this
ancient grinding glacier of willful secrets?

I want new heroes in my life…I want Kelly’s heroes.

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Comments [1]

kelly mcmasters

Thank you, dear Roland Legiardi-Laura, for what I am certain is the first poem about Shirley, Long Island. You've captured it beautifully!

May. 02 2008 10:34 AM

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