Thursday, April 4, 2024

Poem for John Sinclair


John Sinclair is dead
Long live John Sinclair 

My life would have been so much easier
so much more legal
so much safer
so much more boring 

if at 20 years old 
I had not met John Sinclair
discovered the MC5 & the 
White Panthers & bought Guitar Army

My life might have stayed 
inside the lines 
under the radar
between the orange cones of convention

but I discovered a poet 
who finally led me to Memphis & Mississippi
I discovered a revolutionary rock promoter
who repped for bands that would 

rip up bogus contract of our complicity
tear down the walls of our segregation
take off the clothes of our alienation &
shout spit prophecies all night long

hard months now because first Rodriguez 
then Wayne Kramer & now John Sinclair each of them 
one by one shattering our assumptions breathing our Detroit
now they gone no matter how far they traveled the globe

I am so grateful that I decided to visit John in the Corridor
during the summer of 2022 because I knew then it might be
the last time that I saw him I did not say it then but secretly
I had to think it seeing how much he was struggling that day

Knowing all the years he spent in New Orleans I wore
my sky blue Jazz Fest t-shirt as I just attended my first one
& he said “You went to Jazz Fest?” I was excited but then 
he said “I fucking hate Jazz Fest” that was how John was

he refused to agree that the MC5 invented punk rock
because he said that was the Stooges because that word
punk to John was pejorative it was not a compliment
to be called a punk said John & he didn’t care how many

punk fans loved to claim the MC5 even more than 
the Sex Pistols & Ramones as our very beginnings
the roots of screaming guitars & moshing bodies 
John didn’t care what punk rock scholar said what

he didn’t care that we were anarchists when he talked
about what a great influence the communists & the 
Nation of Islam were on him & when he went to the prison
on jacked-up pot charges he had so much time on his hands

to read & to study & as an independent poet-scholar
who was still brilliant no matter how much weed he smoked
he reminded & taught us that we need to read we needed
to study until we understood & he didn’t care for pleasing

the enemy or catering to any critics for because inside
John’s revolutionary heart there were the voices of the 
prisoners & the ancestors & his teachers were the ones
who remind us to never give up or give in & always

always give everything 
for the people for the people
John Sinclair gave everything 
for the people 

on Cherokee land

No comments: