… Breathing, cradling my voice … Exhaling, following my song … Chiming, lifting my voice at 1,000 O’Clock ….
It’s sensuousness in time when I feel aligned. A kinetic turn of phrase that welcomes the staccato in search of social harmony. An invitation to sense the past, position the present within rigorous concentration, keep my 3rd eye on the prize of the future. It’s sensuousness in time when my voice is infused with fragrance through no choice of my own.
At 1,000 O’Clock, I actually Court Risk on behalf of my set point of constructive citizenship! The poet Khadijah Queen asked once about Courting Risk. I wrote in part:
It’s deeply personal and humbling. Haunts what seem to be almost pedestrian crossroads and thresholds. Risk is never generic. Plunging into integrity demanded in real time is riskiest: Can I say no when yes is easier? Will I disagree when nodding OK keeps the peace? Will I risk sounding defensive in order to defend myself, or my principles? When I Court Risk, I concluded, I seek to salvage my subtlety, trust the immaterial, honor innocence, and work the inspirational without being naive.
Quiet clarity can also suffuse me at 1,000 O’Clock. In 2015, I participated in a sunrise on the Atlantic island of Boipeba in Bahia, Brazil, while on a trip as Executive Director of Viver Brasil’s Dancing at the Source program.
I felt saturated by ideas, impressions, languages, images. I was inspired to write SURGE in bold capital letters into a notebook that I then filled with drafts that I’ve since been developing into a manuscript. I was inspired to thank the founders of Viver Brasil for expanding my experiences with Afro Brazilian culture through dance classes, performances, and mentoring by elders. Later that day, I expressed my gratitude face-to-face.
But just before sunrise, I stood on a wide sandbar where river emptied into sea. I heard music. I heard my voice. I felt my breath cradling my voice. I exhaled my song. I felt my body ring. I was effortlessly alert, vibrating as if I chimed in tune with ALL. Lifting my voice, I walked well away from the shore, since the tide was out, and I can only weakly describe the sense of new birth I felt by saying that I was in trance. I kept hearing my voice in four concert settings: with men singing acapella; with women singing acapella; with a horn section; and with men, women & horn section in a culminating blend.
That concert framework became the centerpiece of an application to LA’s Department of Cultural Affairs for a COLA (City of LA) fellowship, which I was awarded in 2018. My award project was called TRANCE, which for budget and time constraints wound up as a suite for my poetry set to original music by the brilliant Ed Barguiarena for tuba, trombone, trumpet and French Horn.
At our recital on two nights in June 2018, Ed conducted TRANCE and our VoiceMusic explored and played with time and its pulsations, and reveled in the shifts and slippages between emotional states, in our best approximation of that magical morning on an island in Brazil. Our audience quilted their voices into my dialogue with the horn section. Together, we helped produce a testament to whole living.
1,000 O’Clock is my best measurement of the unbidden and the unmeasurable.
All my life, during transcendent moments, I recall a sensation of floating, a state of irradiating ALL, if I was knee deep in an activity, or listening to someone explaining something in a way that riveted me. I melted into nothingness, with everything, cells bound in supple balance with life and death, timelessness and resolution.
As an administrator, I never performed with Viver Brasil’s dance and music ensemble. But for one concert, I contributed a poem called “Peace Transcends.” It was an honor and another way of expressing gratitude for an awesome experience in a place where river water flows into seawater.
Whose child am I?
See my mother in my whirlpools of Holy Waters …
Feel my father in explosions of cool young stars …
Find my family in voices singing of Enlightenment …
Mother, mother … I am your Earthly Child … I hunger for safety
Oh my father … I am your Divine Child … I search for beauty
Sweet Family … I am your Illuminated Child … I believe I am home
Birth glows behind my eyes … In my new voice I whisper
I am excited to know peace from every direction
I am excited to see the faces of peace
I am excited … Mother Mother … Oh My Father … Sweet Family
BONUS EXCERPT from my book, Black Man of Happiness: In Pursuit of My ‘Unalienable Right,’ WINNER, 2015 AMERICAN BOOK AWARD: “…It is 1,000 O’clock. Illuminated Time and Place of integrity, thresholds, and destinations. The realm of transfiguration beyond date books and clocks. The Past has been mourned and mined. The Present is embossed and each instant feels electrified with potential. No hope is taboo. All visions are possible. No child stands in line for love. Lovers Rock. The women and men have integrated their hindsight into a resuscitated Present. At 1,000 O’clock, a man welcomes substantial inquiry. My calendar insinuates the countdown has begun. I feel aroused and sensual and poised.… It is 1,000 o’clock and I want to make a home in a house built on a foundation bolted to our grandparents’ chain gang demands, where the floors creak with closeted lovers’ Northstar resolve, and the walls, rooms, doors, and roof align with my mother’s bedtime prayers. I want to live a barefoot holiday with somebody, measure time by celebration, wilt he said/she said with riveting telepathy of two humans face-to-face gossiping with kiss from mouths steady evolving beyond the need for speech.…” www.blackmanofhappiness.com/shop