Friday, April 17, 2015

In my youth I was a tireless dancer. This is a Dorn poem, appropriately included in Hands Up!, the collection brought out by Amiri Baraka through his Totem Press, in association with Corinth Books, Baraka then living in New York City, but having lived in Newark, that he would return to Newark—the wisdom in this. And the first lines of this poem from Dorn begin, "But now I pass | graveyards in a car." And in the second stanza of the poem, after having mourned the dead, after having mourned those objects and events and phenomena that have since passed out of existence, Dorn then turns to the dance itself, the Saturday night dance, he recalls this from his youth and thinking on his youth he recalls himself as a tireless dancer. And I find now that, for my own part, it serves me well to recall my own experiences in the world as a tireless dancer, the photographs below—the first from Newark and the second from New York City—we tireless dancers—inexhaustible—alive—well.

At least one of the people in the photograph above is no longer with us, he having died of an HIV-related illness, ostensibly due to drugs. Too many of the others in the photograph I have not seen in too many years, there, the Pipeline in Newark, perhaps on a Thursday night, possibly a Saturday when the hardcore matinees took place. Broadstreet in Newark, just a block or two from where the city of Belville begins. 1991. Perhaps. And I can look at these faces and recall stories, moments, anecdotes, encounters. These faces are not aids to memory; they are people who perhaps might recall as I do—how in our youth we were all tireless dancers—inexhaustible.

And the second photo, this, a dancing. These would have been the drums, the pounding, of a confusion and also of a class war and also of a deep desire the shape of which still outpaces our desire. And our ability to grasp this desire through itself offers its own clear knowing. And perhaps this photograph was taken at Nightingales. Perhaps another club. The Bank or the Wetlands. I do not know. Though I do know I was there. And I cannot know where. I do not see myself. And this is as it should be for who could want to see only their own image when in fact it was the whole of the choir that mattered. And this is not the dance of exchange but a dance compelled by the suffering generated by exchange. To regard any of this otherwise would be folly. And this dance—this dance—nothing more than the movement of bodies toward survival—a tempering of the mind.