ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes

   

Home  ChickenBones Store (Books, DVDs, Music, and more)     

Google
 
 

Emergency picks up a body in a hallway on St. Claude. On Mardi Gras Day: 

Indians of the Yellow Pocahontas / dance over the bridge, down the Avenue.

Make way for the chief! Shaking his headdress / he's come to sing for his mama whose name is Alma.

Past Desire, Piety, Pauline, past my street to Poland Avenue where

St. Claude's ancient knees lift over the levee.   Bridge up

 

 

Books by Lee Meitzen Grue

Goodbye Silver, Silver Cloud  /  In the Sweet Balance of the Flesh   / French Quarter Poems  / Three Poets in New Orleans  / Downtown

CD Live! On Frenchmen Street

*   *   *   *   *

 

St. Claude Avenue Sweet

By Lee Meitzen Grue      

 

Cars in  blue shades, throbbing, shuddering

rap-tuous babooms down St. Claude beating

smoky  busses blazoned:

St. Claude to Lizardi, St. Claude to Refinery,

fuming over

the corrupt,  incorruptible - the strung out body of Saint Claude,

who lies

nodding in Treme, past St. Augustine's and

Elie's courtyard where

reclusive poets call from high skirted porches

chant litanies and conjure.

The church swallows loas, all saints

sweet. The  big peasant rests at the cross roads:

Esplanade near Polaris, the spinning North star.

St. Claude's lone talkers stalk the littered banquette,

ecstatic prophesiers

sermonizing

in raggedy clothes, breathy hair dreaming

to better things in unlikely places:

King Roger's:

Pickled Tips, Hot Sausage, Cowan, and Coon.

Beard's Auto Repair:

No catting, no loitering, no crack, the Hi Ho, the Saturn Bar,

St. Roch Market:  Plate Lunches, Blue Crabs, Boil Crawfish.

Friday in this some time catholic city.  Get Your GED.

In the yard of the fan shop

at St. Claude and Elysian Fields

a woman offers BJ's for two dollars, goes

down for a bag of potato chips:  Crack.  Crank,

This too is life. 

At Press Street,

children pass over and under boxcars, daring

wheels to turn.

People in cars

wait for the train to pass,

impatient

circle in the dust of the gravel road,

cut to beat the train.

A long mournful whistle begs them not to cross.  Don't cross.

I'm coming.  Tell me,  Babe sang, "Don't you want to go?"

St. Claude hangs out in the yellow pages -- Texaco,

Nome Credit Union, the Whitney Bank, and Mandich's:

Got downtown pride and corpus derelicti

Caged grocers count out change, Hank's Po Boys

in  white paper, take out Chinese in styrofoam.

Rainbow houses, boarded up houses, things

falling down,

shot up and drive by: Frederick Douglas and

Washington school, and won't things

get better sometime soon. The principal locks out the tardy.

Emergency picks up a body in a hallway on St. Claude. On Mardi Gras Day: 

Indians of the Yellow Pocahontas

dance over the bridge, down the Avenue.

Make way for the chief! Shaking his headdress

he's come to sing for his mama whose name is Alma.

Past Desire, Piety, Pauline, past my street to Poland Avenue where

St. Claude's ancient knees lift over the levee.   Bridge up

drivers take a slow breath,

a moment from the day to watch the boats pass,

and far down there by Harry Sterling

incorruptible toes stretch

into the lower nine past

the Louis Armstrong Elementary School

where the fat man Antoine Domino lives in the pink,

smack dab in the middle of his old neighborhood.

Hooray! for the neighborhood, any neighborhood

where people call each other by name,

And they call the saint.  They call him

the St. Claude Pharmacy, the St.  Claude Handy Hardware.

They call him everyday,

but there are not enough prayers

to call him back.

St. Claude Avenue is walled by the dispossessed,

one pay check away from homeless 

as new residents sing out:

Gentrify! Gentrify!

until we B & B  ourselves Disney.

St. Claude needs a miracle.  Needs one bad.

On this broad Avenue good people abide.

 To sustain glory in the name

of the people we must all abide. 

 

*   *   *   *   *

Downtown

By Lee Meitzen Grue

Lee Grue is arguably one of the finest practitioners of poetry in New Orleans' storied history. These superb writs are equal to the upwelling of jazz itself: from Tremé street corners, to the wayward French Quarter, to the carefree vibes of Bywater, all the way to back o' town; this astonishing collection speaks from a mythic pantheon off yowls & beats as timeless as the Crescent City herself. "If you're missing New Orleans, and you know what that means, you need to read Grue's book front to back, place by place, time by time, name by name, everything that breaks your broken heart and asks it to sing. A generous, loving tribute to poetry and to New Orleans"—Dara Wier

 "Lee Grue's work is one of the majestic pylons that keeps New Orleans above water, a pylon woven thickly and subtly from the city's history. Her poetry weaves her personal history to the five centuries of the city's own, a fabric stronger than the dreams of engineers. Lee Grue holds us all on the warm open hand of her music; she emanates the love that raises the soul levees"—Andrei Codrescu\

Lee Meitzen Grue was born in Plaquemine, Louisiana, a small town upriver. New Orleans has been home for most of her life. She began reading her poetry at The Quorum Club during the early sixties. There she met musicians Eluard Burt and Maurice Martinez (bandleader Marty Most). Burt had just come back to New Orleans from San Francisco, where he had been influenced by the Beats. Eluard Burt and Lee Grue continued to work together over many years. Burt and his photographer wife, Kichea Burt, came home to New Orleans from California again in the nineties, where the three collaborated on a CD, Live! on Frenchmen Street. Eluard Burt passed in 2007.

Kichea Burt contributed some of the photographs in Grue's book DOWNTOWN. During the intervening years Grue reared children, directed The New Orleans Poetry Forum workshop, and NEA poetry readings in the Backyard Poetry Theater. In 1982 she began editing New Laurel Review, an independent international literary journal which is still published today. She has lived downtown in the Bywater for thirty-five years. After the flood of 2005 she began teaching fiction and poetry at the Alvar Library, which is three blocks from her house. Her other books are: Trains and Other Intrusions, French Quarter Poems,  In the Sweet Balance of the Flesh, and Goodbye Silver, Silver Cloud, short fiction.

*   *   *   *   *

AALBC.com's 25 Best Selling Books


 

Fiction

#1 - Justify My Thug by Wahida Clark
#2 - Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree
#3 - Head Bangers: An APF Sexcapade by Zane
#4 - Life Is Short But Wide by J. California Cooper
#5 - Stackin' Paper 2 Genesis' Payback by Joy King
#6 - Thug Lovin' (Thug 4) by Wahida Clark
#7 - When I Get Where I'm Going by Cheryl Robinson
#8 - Casting the First Stone by Kimberla Lawson Roby
#9 - The Sex Chronicles: Shattering the Myth by Zane

#10 - Covenant: A Thriller  by Brandon Massey

#11 - Diary Of A Street Diva  by Ashley and JaQuavis

#12 - Don't Ever Tell  by Brandon Massey

#13 - For colored girls who have considered suicide  by Ntozake Shange

#14 - For the Love of Money : A Novel by Omar Tyree

#15 - Homemade Loves  by J. California Cooper

#16 - The Future Has a Past: Stories by J. California Cooper

#17 - Player Haters by Carl Weber

#18 - Purple Panties: An Eroticanoir.com Anthology by Sidney Molare

#19 - Stackin' Paper by Joy King

#20 - Children of the Street: An Inspector Darko Dawson Mystery by Kwei Quartey

#21 - The Upper Room by Mary Monroe

#22 – Thug Matrimony  by Wahida Clark

#23 - Thugs And The Women Who Love Them by Wahida Clark

#24 - Married Men by Carl Weber

#25 - I Dreamt I Was in Heaven - The Rampage of the Rufus Buck Gang by Leonce Gaiter

Non-fiction

#1 - Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable
#2 - Confessions of a Video Vixen by Karrine Steffans
#3 - Dear G-Spot: Straight Talk About Sex and Love by Zane
#4 - Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny by Hill Harper
#5 - Peace from Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What You're Going Through by Iyanla Vanzant
#6 - Selected Writings and Speeches of Marcus Garvey by Marcus Garvey
#7 - The Ebony Cookbook: A Date with a Dish by Freda DeKnight
#8 - The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing
#9 - The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter Godwin Woodson

#10 - John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History  by Ahati N. N. Toure

#11 - Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure by Tavis Smiley

#12 -The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

#13 - The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell

#14 - The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore

#15 - Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can't Commit  by RM Johnson

#16 - Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins

#17 - Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell

#18 - A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose by Eckhart Tolle

#19 - John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard

#20 - Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris

#21 - Age Ain't Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife by Carleen Brice

#22 - 2012 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino
#23 - Chicken Soup for the Prisoner's Soul by Tom Lagana
#24 - 101 Things Every Boy/Young Man of Color Should Know by LaMarr Darnell Shields

#25 - Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class  by Lisa B. Thompson

*   *   *   *   *

The Last Holiday: A Memoir

By Gil Scott Heron

Shortly after we republished The Vulture and The Nigger Factory, Gil started to tell me about The Last Holiday, an account he was writing of a multi-city tour that he ended up doing with Stevie Wonder in late 1980 and early 1981. Originally Bob Marley was meant to be playing the tour that Stevie Wonder had conceived as a way of trying to force legislation to make Martin Luther King's birthday a national holiday. At the time, Marley was dying of cancer, so Gil was asked to do the first six dates. He ended up doing all 41. And Dr King's birthday ended up becoming a national holiday ("The Last Holiday because America can't afford to have another national holiday"), but Gil always felt that Stevie never got the recognition he deserved and that his story needed to be told. The first chapters of this book were given to me in New York when Gil was living in the Chelsea Hotel. Among the pages was a chapter called Deadline that recounts the night they played Oakland, California, 8 December; it was also the night that John Lennon was murdered. Gil uses Lennon's violent end as a brilliant parallel to Dr King's assassination and as a biting commentary on the constraints that sometimes lead to newspapers getting things wrong. —Jamie Byng, Guardian / Gil_reads_"Deadline" (audio)

*   *   *   *   *

Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America

By Melissa V. Harris-Perry

According to the author, this society has historically exerted considerable pressure on black females to fit into one of a handful of stereotypes, primarily, the Mammy, the Matriarch or the Jezebel.  The selfless Mammy’s behavior is marked by a slavish devotion to white folks’ domestic concerns, often at the expense of those of her own family’s needs. By contrast, the relatively-hedonistic Jezebel is a sexually-insatiable temptress. And the Matriarch is generally thought of as an emasculating figure who denigrates black men, ala the characters Sapphire and Aunt Esther on the television shows Amos and Andy and Sanford and Son, respectively.     

Professor Perry points out how the propagation of these harmful myths have served the mainstream culture well. For instance, the Mammy suggests that it is almost second nature for black females to feel a maternal instinct towards Caucasian babies. As for the source of the Jezebel, black women had no control over their own bodies during slavery given that they were being auctioned off and bred to maximize profits. Nonetheless, it was in the interest of plantation owners to propagate the lie that sisters were sluts inclined to mate indiscriminately.

*   *   *   *   *

The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

*   *   *   *   *

Ancient African Nations

*   *   *   *   *

If you like this page consider making a donation

online through PayPal

*   *   *   *   *

Negro Digest / Black World

Browse all issues


1950        1960        1965        1970        1975        1980        1985        1990        1995        2000 ____ 2005        

Enjoy!

*   *   *   *   *

The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery / George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

*   *   *   *   *

The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of Haiti 

*   *   *   *   *

*   *   *   *   *

ChickenBones Store (Books, DVDs, Music, and more)

 

 

 

 

 

 

update 24 February 2012

 

 

 

Home Lee Meitzen Grue Table   Lee Meitzen Grue Tribute   Literary New Orleans