Poems for April 28, 2010: Michael Warr, Tony Fitzpatrick, Jack Hirschman praise heroes

Gravitas  In Three Movements

Written by Michael Warr and performed in 2005 at the memorial of Fred Fine to music composed and performed by Mitar Mitch Covic.

Michael Warr

In memory of Fred Fine

In the immortal mind
of this Worldchanger
bottom line was humanity,
Breadlines for subsistence
not enough without beauty
riveted into the beams
of our being
offered to all in reach of his
brilliant, encompassing, light
where would-be Worldchangers
were taught to slay
the golem of cyclical crisis.


Firebird soaring underground.
Entrenched scholar on frontlines.
Bronze-Star soldier, profound.
Mobilizer of each one of us.
Gardener of consciousness.
Scientific shaman. Maven.
Mentor to masses. Agitator.
Code Breaker. Mensch.
Frail enough to fly.

We Are All The Black Boy (Tia Chucha)


Freedom Fighter. Father.
Immense enough to leave
an imprint on our communal stone.
Today the theory of chaos is true.
The flutter of a butterfly’s wing
can equal the force of a hurricane.
© 2005, Michael Warr

[“Michael Warr’s literary awards include a Gwendolyn Brooks Significant Illinois Poets Award, a NEA Creative Writing Fellowship for Poetry, a Ragdale Foundation US – Africa Fellowship, and The Beat Museum Poet of the Month. His first book of poems We Are All The Black Boy, was honored by the Illinois Library Association. He is a co-editor of Power Lines: A Decade of Poetry From Chicago’s Guild Complex.” taken from the spoken word website where a number of his poems can be read and/or heard, including his evocation of Tony Fitzpatrick (see next entry) in this poem: My Father’s Favorite Pastime.]


Crazy Horse Collages by Tony Fitzpatrick

[Tony Fitzpatrick has earned his position as a visual artist and a wordsmith poet. In a number of works, such as Bum Town, his brilliant evocation of south Chicago’s blue collar past, he combines the two arts with his visceral prints and words. Note that Tony has also done book covers:  his own for BumTown of course, but also for Michael Warr’s book featured above, and for PowerLines, which Michael co-edited.  And if you listen to Steve Earle’s music, look again at the album covers and you’ll recognize the work there too.  In the work represented here, his visual art itself becomes a form of poetry, and the prose reflections that accompany them evoke the tragic past of Crazy Horse, someone to be admired even if the tragic end is not to be emulated. The following is from the text accompanying number one of the collages:

“I think I keep thinking about Crazy Horse because of the sad trajectory of his life — he’d lost his wives , his brother, his father, and his dearest friend, Hump; and in his lifetime he would also lose the ferocious landscape of the Badlands to the white man and the RailRoads. His, was a life of furious loss, despite fighting mightily to hang onto some semblance of his history and ancestry– these things too, were lost to him.
His only solace was in nature. Being on the wrong end of history’s loaded gun, relegated him and millions of other indians to the shameful footnote of White America’s own genocidal manifest destiny.
I guess the idea of belonging to a place is something I’ve always considered an idea worth fighting for.” ]


Homage to Ben Moloise, South African Poet by Jack Hirschman

The Bottom Line (Curbstone)

When a poet
in revolutionary struggle
is hanged by the evil his every breath had fought
his words
unleash the lynched
unchain the fettered
turn every pen into a javelin
when a poet
is murdered for being
truth’s messenger
the government of his executioners
chokes on its own tongue
and aparthate crawls on maggot belly
while the words of the poet
enter the peoples’ ears
like the unbroken neck of the rainbow
that will be South Africa’s sky
for every pair of eyes
when the reign of death is over
and the flood subsides.

from The Bottom Line (Curbstone Press)


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