Monday, April 18, 2016

Poem of the Week 4.18.16

Hello Poem of the Week! It's me again-- Chante. We're good friends by now so let's skip the formalities and jump right in:

If You Are Over Staying Woke
the plants. Drink
plenty of water.
Don’t hear
the news. Get
bored. Complain
about the weather.
Keep a corkscrew
in your purse.
Swipe right
Don’t smile
unless you want
to. Sleep in.
Don’t see the news.
Remember what
the world is like
for white people.
Listen to
cricket songs.
Floss. Take pills.
Keep an
empty mind.
When you are
do not say
I’m never drinking
again. Be honest
when you’re up
to it. Otherwise
drink water
lie to yourself
turn off the news
burn the papers
skip the funerals
take pills
laugh at dumb shit
fuck people you
don’t care about
use the crockpot
use the juicer
use the smoothie maker
drink water
from the sky
don’t think
too much about the sky
don’t think about water
skip the funerals
close your eyes
whenever possible
When you toast
look everyone in the eyes
Never punctuate
the President
Write the news
into water
the fire escape
Burn the paper
Crumble the letters
Instead of
hyacinths pick
Water the hydrangeas
Wilt the news
White the hydrangeas
Drink the white
Waterfall the
cricket songs
Keep a song mind
Don’t smile
Don’t wilt

I think I should start my discussion with this:

To be a Negro in this country and to be relatively conscious is to be in a rage almost all the time..--------James A. Baldwin

That's what Morgan Parker means by "Woke." So the title of the poem "translated" from AAVE (African-American Vernacular English) to E (English), is "if you are tired of being conscious." I'd like to think and I'm almost sure that Morgan Parker was completely aware of this James Baldwin quote when writing this poem.

Last year,  she visited my Poetry I class where she read from her book Other People's 
Comfort Keeps Me Up at Night. Don't you just love that title? Anyway, she was great. Her poetry was great. This poem is great.

"If You Are Over Staying Woke" is about self-care. It's about remembering to take care of yourself in times of great distress, and giving yourself a break from the rage that comes with being conscious. My favorite part of this is how internal it is. Parker seems to know that before you can tear down systems you must take care of you. The repetition of water in this poem is so important. She's saying, give yourself life.

With this poem, I'm signing out of Poem of the Week forever. It's been real. It's been: Claudia Rankine, Eileen Myles, Pedro Pietri, Sandra Cisneros, epigraphs, and my own poem about Laguna Beach. I've ran out of poetry but I'm happy to end with Morgan Parker in conversation with James Baldwin, reminding us all that it's okay to be tired.


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