Snow in Austin, Winter in America – Still

A year and two weeks ago, I wrote Snow in Austin, Winter in America, based on a powerful song by Gil Scott-Heron. I think that post is some of my best work, not necessarily prize-winning, but in trying to capture a mood. (You should go read it now. I’ll wait.) The street poet, progenitor of rap, musician, and author was a voice of conscience regarding the state of Black people in America, among other things. He could also lay down some serious grooves to go with his strong words; Winter in America is in a minor key and has a great blues flute solo. I wrote that post right before coronavirus began its whirlwind tour of the US — just before it went viral. (Ha!) It was a few months before the modern-day lynching of George Floyd on May 25, 2020. (Not ha.) Scott-Heron died on May 27, 2011, a decade ago later this year. What would he have to say about Floyd’s killer, Minneapolis policeman Derek Chauvin still being out on bail awaiting trial and maybe even getting some justice for George (yeah, we’ll see about that)? Time marches on. But as Sting once sang,“History will teach us nothing.” The prophetic music and lyrics of Scott-Heron and others like him (Marvin Gaye comes to mind) are relevant — still. Maybe in GSH’s poetry we can find a little solace in these cold and dark days. Or maybe we’ll get pissed and take action somehow. It is Black History Month, but is there more to it than history?

Scott-Heron performing at WOMAD in Bristol, 1986
Gil Scott-Heron in 1986. Source
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Verisimilitude: Leap Day Twenty Twenty Poem

Sitting at my keyboard
wondering what to type
college friend emails from India
she ain't got no Skype
Once did yoga on her lawn
sun-drenched shorts of orange 
light dappled her auburn hair
nothing rhymes with orange
I've no right to write poetry
just a simple bike ridin' dude
but who says I can't rhyme
and speak of verisimilitude?
Barely rode my bike this week
cuz of my damn temp job
gotta pay the man rent, man
or land on the street, a slob
Have you heard the news today?
oh boy, every day a new doozy
while the tyrant rants and sycophants blather
I'd really rather just take another snooze, see?
It's sunny out there but pitch dark inside
seconds, minutes, hours pass relentlessly
time's on no one's side but its own
never ever can shake this baby called ennui
Can't get no satisfaction, though I try sometimes
through time and space I move this body of girth
endless campaign, killer virus, stock market crash
Antarctica's melting; not to worry, people of Earth!
Don't worry, be happy, this too shall pass
worst form of government, 'cept all the rest - democracy
real Americans do retail therapy, Netflix and chill
problem is telling truth from lies, what's real from hypocrisy
Honesty is hardly ever heard, word to your muthah 
zone out to your jams, take your medicine and sleep
put on a happy face, fear not, and be of good cheer
might as well jump to conclusions and take a faithful leap

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Snow in Austin, Winter in America

Snow fell from the cold, dark skies on my bike ride home from the gym. The frozen precipitation is rare in Central Texas, especially in relatively mild winters like we’ve been having. So it’s a wondrous sight when it does snow. I felt lucky to have been outside riding when it came down. Light, white, wet kisses on my face melted quickly. Some accumulated on car hoods and lawn chairs, and the roommates and dogs were happy to see and feel it, too.

Of course in other places, there are no romantic notions about snow, because they’re drowning in it and shoveling it by metric ton. Another substance is also being shoveled in similar quantities, but it’s brown, smelly, and comes out of the back end of a cow. And by that of course, I can only be referring to the State of the Union, which was by some accounts a total snow job. Winter isn’t coming, Jon Snow, it’s already here. The revolution will not be televised. It’s winter in America.

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This Bike Blog Post is About a Poetry Reading. Huh?

Normally I write about my biking, and also the people, places or things I go do or see while on the bicycle. I would have biked there but today a big cold front blew into Austin, so I had to abort my ride after two miles. It got considerably chilly and wildly windy quite quickly. There’s always time for that, and this blog is also about A Dude’s other activities and interests, like writing. And fortunately good ol’ friend Bruce agreed to drive us in his eco-friendly Prius to a poetry reading. Herewith and posthaste is my report.

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