Any Singer About Love – Baby Talk (7)

It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it – June Harris, Moms’ Mantra

Let’s start by stopping at Peabo Bryson’s You and Smokey’s Baby Come Close.

Go ahead and savor the tender wonder of two radically different voices of satisfaction.

I’ll wait.

Welcome back ….

If I was Peabo, or any singer in love, or any singer about love, my Baby Talk would answer questions before they were asked.

If a loved one called me baby like Smokey on cruise control in a quiet storm, all avenues would shimmer until our eyes saw only the name Joy Street.

Lovers exchanging Baby Talk give us an R&B transfusion.

They rewrite the code of our DNA.

What do you whisper in your loved one’s ear?

What tenderness do you want to hear?

What are we promising in our Baby Talk?

What Baby Talk will be as eternal as a classic ballad?

What IS hip over time in our sweet murmurings of intimacy?

Does our Baby Talk depend on words or silences between the words?

Does our Baby Talk conjure serenity? Weightlessness? Timelessness?

Make us catch our breath?

Does our Baby Talk work like Marvin’s Distant Lover? Paint pictures in a lover’s mind? Cause anticipation to well up from sacred hungers?

I want my Baby Talk to be trustworthy. Say that the wait is over. Say that you are home. I want my Baby Talk to send a lover into an altered state. Gone, but with me shoulder-to-shoulder! I want any social setting to disappear. I want my voice to hint at familiar songs, but sound only like me. I want my Baby Talk to be quilted with friendship. I want it instantly compared with previous Baby Talk, then instantly blossom into nothing ever heard before!

I want my Baby Talk to breathe beyond bravado, pivot promises into demonstration, tap into the velocity of sincerity, swell into a particular moan.  

Could my Baby Talk become a Legacy Language? Inspire, Iike an R&B classic, recollections of momentum and stillness?

Reconstitute “misty watercolor” memories?   

Resurrect us until we’re born again?

Tell us that we are so beautiful?

True Baby Talk sparks a rush of unanswered questions infused with profound wisdom reverberating from our most intimate self!

And beyond Baby Talk as persuasive love language, or language seeking love or lovemaking, or reward, award, or come on and go with me…

Do I have the courage to explore humility?

How do I resist shallow definitions of manhood and masculinity?

What in my encounters do I honestly want emanating from me?

How has Baby Talk helped me stand at the turbulent thresholds of masculinity and humanity?

What other questions did Baby Talk inspire me to consider while standing at the turbulent thresholds of masculinity and humanity?

How will Baby Talk school me before future questions when I stand at the turbulent thresholds of masculinity and humanity?

What language stretches me as a man?

What is my language of ceremony?

What is my language of courage?

What is my language of virtuosity?

What is my language of vitality?

How can language be more than labels I slap onto things, experiences, dreams?

How can Baby Talk align me? Prompt me to change for the better faster?

How can Baby Talk rearrange me? Incite me to express myself even when powering down keeps the peace of protocol?

Overall am I taking a page from my father’s ethical toolkit — ‘say what you mean, boy, and mean what you say?’ When I speak, can a listener stand on that elemental ground distilled in a Proverb?

Am I speaking with emotional reliability? Does a trustworthy rhythm pulse beneath what I say?

Does my language reflect a dynamic season in my life of maturity, insight, development, service, and resolve?

Does the moisture in my voice feel refreshing or like icky condensation? When I open my mouth what kinds of precipitation emerge? What is the fullest ecology of my Baby Talk?

When does Baby Talk help me get beyond negotiation to a tender vocabulary I can blend with my beloved?

What self is my Baby Talk coaxing into view, coaxing into action, coaxing into sensational individuality?

What Baby Talk am I speaking to myself?

Timeless Life 

you braid your hair
with a comb of cactus teeth

stroking gel & laughter from the prickly straws
releases the passing days from your face

when your eyelashes rest
& you feel guidance coming on
you bundle dry thorns
& coax a fire from the kindling

you burn fresh-cut herbs
to clean the air & fill my head with aching fantasies

you read the smoke & tell time without a clock
inhale the night   exhale faces hovering over the flames

you sift the rattle of the wind for necessary intervention
we no longer cry   speak only in riddles & proverbs

            this is the timeless life
     I am the timeless seeker
            of a holy woman possessed by
            sight & love & patience the salvation
of water & amber & touch

            this is the timeless life
            I am a timeless seeker
of a holy sister nourished by
starlight & spiritflight & incantation the salvation
of clay & onyx & touch

            this is the timeless life
           I am the timeless seeker
of a holy lover blessed by
            praise & desire & delight the salvation
            of smile & truth & touch

you set a table for a banquet of cactus meat
you perfume your skin with the spring flower between the quills

you douse the fire with libation
invoked in the language of humility & awe

this is the timeless life
I am the holy seeker of a timeless woman
dancing within embers of the dying shadows
dancing within stiletto shadows of the cactus flower


Let’s end humming. I am not a singer in love. I am a singer about love. I revel in and among questions and questions and more questions. I walk the sidewalks of Joy Street  Wreaking Happiness humming in humble witness to well, well, well … to yes yes yes … that refresh me with endless R&B transfusions.

BONUS EXCERPT from my book, Black Man of Happiness: In Pursuit of My ‘Unalienable Right,’ WINNER, 2015 AMERICAN BOOK AWARD: “… What will I live for? Why do I trust Black men? Well, it’s simple. I’m confident in a lifetime of rich brotherhood, a lifetime witnessing men commit themselves to life and development. I’m flat dubious of our society’s tendency to favor us as one dimensional, easily packaged, drained of intensity, and happy go lucky rather than happy. Truth is, I’ve been fired in the kiln of exquisite friendships with men who came wounded but savvy out of tough neighborhoods and histories. Men who understand bitter times, family breakdowns, street-level violence, in-home dysfunction, but who nonetheless manufactured responsible lives dedicated to an overall sense of service and contribution. These cats have needed no guitar, no gatt, no lamé, no lean, no entourage, no bodyguard. Just manhood whittled from spring cherries, thrown on the wheel of passion, fired in the family kiln, glazed by neighborhood eloquence. They step with history as their Homeboy. These cats have needed no amp, no shank, no mike, no ho’s, no spotlight, no soldiers. They come with manhood polished by Call & Response, changed on the sidewalks of improvisation, marinated within the tradition of innuendo, praised by the unseen handclap of time. They reject entertainment tonight, don’t rhyme for the money-changers’ delight, don’t perform acts sewn with threads unraveled from a powerless life. They say yes to words washed in honor on the way out their mouth. Yes to sweat sweet with the courage of standing through all their doubts. Yes to art steaming with the incense to purify the lives in everybody’s house. My friendships with these men have been played out to music. Sometimes, it’s found on classic recordings. Always, it feels composed by reliably good men. When I hear their music, I walk the territory of someplace sacred. I’m refreshed. I’m inspired. I honor the memories we’ve made. I pass them on.…”

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