Good Poem #8 – Incident

I hesitated on this one because of the “n” word, but the poem deserves to be better known for its powerful and still revelant depiction of racism’s pain.  Countee Cullen, born perhaps in Lexington, Kentucky, and a leading figure in the Harlem Renaissance, published it in 1925.  Note how Cullen’s uses a nursery rhyme meter and then in the last line of the second verse, in order to emphasize what’s coming, breaks the rhythm like a man stumbling.

– Countee Cullen

(For Eric Walrond)

Countee Cullen

Countee Cullen

Once riding in old Baltimore,
Heart-filled, head-filled with glee,
I saw a Baltimorean
Keep looking straight at me.

Now I was eight and very small,
And he was no whit bigger,
And so I smiled, but he poked out
His tongue, and called me, “Nigger.”

I saw the whole of Baltimore
From May until December;
Of all the things that happened there
That’s all that I remember.


Great Song #1 – Congo Square

Bob Dylan:  A song is a dream and you try to make it come true.

I love songs that tell a story or capture a moment, especially when the music and lyrics fit perfectly, so I made up a list of songs that meet my requirements:

1.   Congo Square

This song describes a part of New Orleans’ Louis Armstrong Park.  The square was originally an area where African slaves were allowed to congregate and continues to be a place where African-Americans gather to play music. The song was written by renowned musicians, Sonny Landreth, Mel Melton and Dave Ranson. The best version I’ve heard is the Neville Brothers’. They’re the real deal. Listen up.


Underappreciated Movie #7 – Breaker Morant

Another in a series of overlooked movies…

7.  Breaker Morant

Excellent adventure movie from 1980 starring Brian Brown, Edward Woodward and Jack Taylor as Australian soldiers who in 1901 get caught up in the great international game of the Boer War.  They pay the ultimate price to advance the goals of politicians and generals.  Indelible performances from all.  Directed by Bruce Beresford who also directed “Driving Miss Daisy” and the under appreciated “Tender Mercies”. “Gripping” is an over-used adjective, but in this case it’s well deserved. Based on a true story called “Scapegoats of Empire“. Watch the trailer.

Listen for lines:

“A slice off a cut loaf is never missed.”

“But, General, what should I say?”
“Oh, I think you know what to say, Johnny.”

“This is what comes of empire building.

Breaker Morant

Breaker Morant