Ignite the Senses

Photo by David Andrako

Photo by David Andrako

House lights still up, Baba opened

his mouth, his heart, his eyes, pouring straight

into ours, thanking Yako for the soup,

for the music, thanking us all

for being there. We basked

in his rosy glow, his wailing,

his hip hop eulogy for his father.


Together, we plunged into darkness,

into the twist and swirl of memory,

with Sequoia Rose as our wondrous guide,

whose four year old super power wish is

to sprout flowers out of all ten fingers,

and bring dead ones back to life.


Baba is the son of jazz, the keeper

of the past and our great hope

for the future, storming through gentrifiers

in his old Lower East Side, listening

to the subway buskers, parsing new

New York give and take.


Baba tended his father’s grave with us,

poured water over the wilted bouquet

and presto, we were right back with him:

four years old in his father’s den,

learning performance and friendship,


six years old, at Theater for the New City,

in a haze of pot smoke and apple juice,


adolescent, sprawled in the infamous den,

threading beats over and under vinyl jazz,


not even born for the great escape from Brazil,

retold in a prison of light and shadow,


all grown up, pleading with his father to plan

for the future, to think about his mother and tomorrow,


and now looking all the way back, sorting through

the articles and artifacts of legendary love.


Baba said, “You’re with me in the scream

of the saxophone,” and we screamed back, call

and response, 2016 knows how to get mad, shouting

SHUT THE FUCK UP, Donald Trump,

technology has dulled our senses,

but we still feel it. His father said,


“Ignite the senses in order to ordain the soul,”

and we ignite together, pay homage in the theater,

commune in community space, spill out to an open mic

where we shout our own pain. There, Baba stood sipping

from a clear plastic bottle, flowing in the tides of love

for his father, and the spinning wheel spun on.

Performances of The Spinning Wheel will take place January 8–16 (see schedule above) at BRIC House, located at 647 Fulton Street in Downtown Brooklyn. Tickets are $15 in advance / $18 at the door and can be purchased by visiting BRICartsmedia.org or by calling OvationTix at 866.811.4111. The Spinning Wheel Festival runs through January 29 at BRIC.

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