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e-Slam Round 1 – Transcript

Hosted by James Hill
Wednesday, July 28, 1999

   


  James Hill
James Hill (Photo by Reginald Pearman / washingtonpost.com)
Round 1 of the e-Slam is over.

The winners are: pc Scearce, Kara Elizabeth Norman, Tasha Stewart, Ramsey Brisueno, Christian Hokenson, Jason Purdy, Eboni Bugg, Laura Wides, Matt Kincaid, Yodio Lo, John F. Wasik, Demetria Dixon and Adrienne Brown. The winner(s) of round one should report here tomorrow (Thursday at 7 p.m.) for the final round of competition which will determine the Grand Prize winner. The Grand Prize winner's poem, bio and audio reading will appear on the e-Slam homepage and will remain there until the winner is defeated. Thanks for participating. And if you didn't win, write, write again!

This is the e-Slam auditorium – where poetry is a contact sport! In here, you are a lyrical gladiator with words as your weapon. In here, you compete against poets from around the world for the title of Slam Master.

Overseeing all activities and reading all submissions from his virtual chair on high is host James Hill. A Philly brother grudgingly in his mid-twenties, James has been writing since birth and came by poetry honestly - via heartbreak. Like most writers, he is working on his first book of collected poems to be finished "really, really soon." Currently James presides over the Books and Theater sections of washingtonpost.com.

How to Play:
Survive two rounds of competition while you and others compose your best work - all of which must comply with the proposed topic for each round (ex: Lost love)

Read the complete rules and guideline before entering.

War isn't pretty and neither is English, so if you are sensitive to colorful language, or have children that you think should be, you have just been warned.



Washington, DC: Yolanda Odunsi
"My Father Remembered"

Haven't seen my father in two decades
Yet I remember his hair--I can even
Smell it
When he'd hold me, I'd lean on his
Shoulder and tace the familiar scent
To his face, his beard, mustache and hair
What a glorious crown that surrounded
My father--a halo, my father the saint
Who walked out of my life, leaving nothing
But memories of that coal black, shiny hair.

:


Washington, DC: p.c. scearce
Mother’s Kitchen

Mason-jars hinge still a kitchen back wall
like some art she loved so making--

a piano player, painter of Christ, a cook
who took up sailing the world for tasting.

How bold the wood stove now, hollow of heat
yet loud the vibration of this closing door,

swing, swing, so low the sweetest little song
she sang often enough

I learned it young, holding her hair like a finger
stretching far enough, I could hold forever.

:


Washington, DC: Essence Newhoff,
your hair

curls at the end
with a stick-straight stem
bits of red, orange, brown
no gray on this one
this one that calls me to your back
in a valley of vertebrae
I want to climb, peak a fourteener
use your hair as a sundial
find my way through you
you tell me to pluck

:


Santa Monica, California: Tom Browne

The hair of a loved one is long and wet.
Sergio, the froofy stylist, holds up a pair of clippers.
I watch, helpless and scared, pleading my love not to touch her stunning mane.
It's too late.
Sergio turns on the clippers and shaves her head.
I gaze, bewildered by her baldness.
She tells me, "go to hell."
And then I never see her again.

:


potomac, maryland: adrienne tucker

Rendezvous
wee gilded hairs tassel the tops of trotting feet
no hairs at all mark dutiful ankles
or calves swallowing tennis balls at every step
or well-toned sails of triangle thighs
i am not prepared for the hair there
like barbed wire
the smell of dead bodies within

:


Washington, DC: Kara Elizabeth Norman

~~Dashing~~

Big brother of the Superman curl-
Beetle Juice pluck on the tip of a bear,
Plush dancing hotdog bun under
cherry handled cheeks with white clicking teeth.
Jesus, dark and waving, was the college boy fling
Clipped dutifully for Finance, panic's surrender.
So now its a crown of shrunken wet slabs,
shiny frame for the bean of a looming body's cap.
Big boy's diminished style, charming and human
in all the enormity it elsewhere leaves.

:


Baltimore, MD: Tasha Stewart

Deep-fried, laid to the side dead cells,
arranged to reflect the beauty in the eye of my beholder.
Her eyes can't appreciate
the aesthetic pleasure in the kinky, curly halo of naps
I sported before we met--
before she took over
my heart, home, and comb.

:


new york, new york:

i can only imagine a hurricane
violent winds
explosions of foam
crashing against the walls
millions must be swept away
helpless against the relentless torrents
still
how do you leave so much hair in the shower
everywhere, everyday?

Edward Winkleman

:


Dallas, TX: Jesse Gonzalez

Jim's Love is Brown-haired

A Sunday jog, through Central Park,
my friend and I, to heal my heart.
I've lost my blonde love, to a faceless man,
so I run like wild, as fast as I can.
My friend is Jim, a confort for years,
He's joined my laughter, consoled my tears.
But this is too great, I stop just to sob,
as Jim pats my back, "Don't think while you jog."
I glance for a second, to connect with his stare,
What lies on his shoulder, but my blonde loved one's hair.

:


Baltimore, MD: Ramsey Brisueno
My Wigga's first cut
______________________

there's no turning back after the barber's first cut,
and he knocks auburn locks off your shoulders, down
your back....bald like a kid again, way back when
we didn't care that you were white and I was black,
cause this ain't a black thing as you expose the skin
beneath...your white scalp turns red when the barber slaps your head
with aftershave and aloe vera
and we both smile when the barber says,
"you know, you two could be brothers."

:


Burbank, California: Christian Hokenson

Brunettes are dark, unsuitable for shaving,
but I suggested it anyway, and we removed
ourselves to the bright lights of my cramped
bathroom. I clipped coarse hair, crinkly
coils that fell like copper wire. Wrinkling
her nose at me as I slathered lather between
her thighs, over her pursed lips, and reached
for the razor, she put her trust in me. Bare
pudenda, soft dark shadow between round thighs,
unsuitable as it was, I enjoyed it for a time.

:


MCLEAN, VIRGINIA: JENNIFER SMITH

MY LOVE LEAVES ME LOVE NOTES
INKY LETTERS ON WHITE FORMICA, ON THE PILLOW, ON THE COUNTER TOPS HE LEAVES ME LITTLE LOVE LINES
IN VERSE ON EVERYTHING VERYWHERE
WE EMBRACE I AM IN GUTENBERG'S PRINTING PRESS DISGUISED AS A SICILIIAN
THE SECOND WIFE CAN DEMAND HE BATHE IN NAIR
BUT HOW I LOVE MY HUBBY'S HAIR

:


Zagreb, Croatia: Goran Vujasinovic

Her hair,
Entwined like a DNA helix
On my wrist, a bracelet,
Or a wedding ring?

Her hair
Blends into the bark of a birch tree
As she embraces its trunk,
Her face blissful as if she were sleeping.

Is this only my yearning,
Or I know her as she knows the birch?

:


Leesburg, VA: Jason Purdy

She turned and walked out the door-out of my life with her head pivoting last, to follow her body

as if there was something left inside her that didn't want to go.

But it did, leaving me with one defiant flash of her eyes behind her hair

which floated like cold iron between us.

As I lay in bed that night, watching and dreaming
dreaming and watching

that one moment passing, and the things we should have said

events transpired a hundred different ways with infinite variation, but the one thing which never changed

was her fucking hair.

:


charlottesville, virginia: eboni cherie bugg

baby sister

because her hair was shorter than mine
she shrank into the presribed position
left sister - and became lesser
not knowing white coats can't deliver
black hope over the counter
take two - and become better
she wouldn't let her essence frame her mind
pulled permed curled fried
baked - and into the presser
because her patience was shorter than time

:


New York, NY: Cori M. Murray

His locks

Four years worth
Way past his shoulders

He parts two sections
Holds one in each hand
Crosses them over and tucks

Without a pins assistance
This is my baby’s hair
Tied up in a knot


:


Guatemala City, Guatemala: Beneath the ribs
covered with fine ebony strands
lies the hollow
where my ear fits flat
just the space
to nuzzle remnants of milenium's fur
and hear the ba-tada-dum salsa beat
of your heart

Laura Wides

:


Chicago, IL:
Black, crinkled, brittle, long
Reminders of a love once known
Pure attraction lust so strong
The roots of pain now regrown
Sewn throughout, twitched and stitched
Tender headed, I combed, she bitched
Listed all the pros and cons
Still, more desirable than brunettes and blonds!

By Darryel Boone

:


Arlington, VA: Tom Witherspoon
My Mother's Hair

she just got back from chemo,
sitting in her lazy boy
sweat still running down her lovely, tired face.
i bend over to kiss her goodbye,
and as my lips touch her hot hot scalp,
a tear falls and hangs suspended on the down
covering her head.
she pretends not to notice my ache,
joking about just shaving off what's left and
selling it for pillows.

:


Richmond, Virginia: William Moore

Not Lunch

Mid-day perfection lost in tossing, sweating
heartfelt joy-combat lust
results in silky soft grip-fuzz perfect for managing the afterglow kiss.
Lingers, vulnerable, but a moment
within my hands, across my chest, surrounding my heart.
Restoration. Mousse. Water. Jell.
Make it neat. The mask complete.
Hit the street.

:


Baltimore, MD:

bad hair daze

The black attendants
must have thought all white
men parted their hair on the right,
or taking subtle vengeance, brushed past
your Jazz-Age center part -
as you never did - and stood on your head,
at the end, nursed to death,
a crown of white hair, alert, angry, askew.

by Matt Kincaid

:


Arlington, VA: Kristen Kreisher
Agitating

the confines
of combs and conditioning,
my brother
wrought rebellion.
Spun his
sparrow curls
into dreadlocks
with $20 bottles
of Paul Mitchell shampoo.

:


Somewhere, USA:
sticky watermelon fresh with
the goodbye morning kiss;
by a dc day's end the flips
at the nape of her neck
cling with sweat to skin,
acquiring that atlantic taste
of the salt liquid sun

jason m. novak

:


SILVER SPRING, MD: DENNIS C. BOBO
CROWN TO KITCHEN,EACH PLATINUM LOCK TOLD A STORY

A MIDNIGHT WIDOWS PEAK TOLD 1 OF A YOUNG MAIDEN
DANCING TO THE KEY STROKES OF COUNT’S & DUKE’S
ON THE SHOULDER OF A KNIGHT ON HIS WAY TO BATTLE

HER SILVER CREST TOLD OF BIRTH’S PAIN
ABOUT HER TUG OF WAR WITH DEATH,
AS SHE WATCHED HER HUSBAND,SLIP INTO THE GRAVE

- HER NECKS NAPE,WERE ANCESTRAL ROOTS,STRONG LIKE THE OAK,CONNECTING HER TO WHERE SHE CAME BEFORE SHE WAS,AND WHERE SHE WILL GO WHEN SHE IS NO MORE

:


New York, New York: Yodia Lo
topic: hair of a loved one

Fishing Wire.
That's what he said my hair was like
The fine line was black, you see, and thick and
strong, and shiny and sleek
It was lively and laughing, and hopeful and carefree.
The scientist in him, oddly adding, measuring, examining me
Wryly joked that he could weigh things with it.
I giggled at the attentions he lavished on my
body, which he now called Fishing wire.
Because, you see, I had him hooked.

:


alexandria,va: adrienne brown

it rises and falls over my hands
as you speak of andean mountain trails
where red breasted birds with orange head plummage turn to watch you pass;
and a small tributary of the amazon
on which live a people of constant dancing, who
no one has ever seen, but everyone believes in;
all this curls like a south wind around my finger
while you speak of strength
and i dream of defiance.

:


Washington DC: Sosimo Fabian

"James Hill's Hair"

I can not believe James Hill!!!
He excited me with this great thrill.

Asks of me to write of Hair,
That to me seems a bit unfair.
Have you noticed he has no hair?

Life is all about that which we have not;
love, money or hair.
But not to worry life is not that much to bear.

:


Pittsburgh, PA: Title: Archaeology

Digging in a pock-marked box enscrawled
"college stuff", you unearth an old bar of soap;
holding the translucent amber slab up
to the light, I see, just under the surface,
two long hairs -one transparent blond,
more felt than seen; the other dark and emphatic brown] twisted around each other like DNA
from a time neither of us can or wants
to remember, waiting for some mad geneticist
to resurrect what evolution so wisely made extinct

Todd Mason Rooney

:


Laurel, MD: Demetria Dixon
My lover's hair
Dreaded, my momma call him nappy headed
She say "You can't even run yo' fingers through
that mess"
She don't understand
My lover's hair
Silk entwined around me
Soft as a whisper against my flesh
My lover's hair
Who he is and who he refuses to become


:


Wauconda, Illinois: Cicadas whir
droning out the moans
of emergency rooms
where no insurance
means no treatment
leaving shells of lives
and strands of her hair
that cannot be combed straight.


John F. Wasik

:


Stockholm, Sweden:

what if i sat down and wrote her a letter,
told her all about it, the gagging,
the hacking, what if
i sent it back to her, taped to the bottom
of the page, yours truly?

our last day together, hiding in her bathroom,
i pulled a strand from her big black brush -
the one i hated cuz it sounded hollow against
her head: "oh! the wisdom that lies within ... "
and i put it in my mouth.

by Devin Wilson

:


Alexandria, Virginia: Tyson Brown

Mrs. V.

I still pray, mind you
and call out the devil when I sees im
sing in a choir with fat ladies and thin
work in the kitchen, a state its in
but I caint make a thing
of this wiry, grey hair
it's a goddamn shame
cuz mister, I was somethin

Mrs. V

:


Houston, Texas: Larry L. Fontenot

Shave

She says “Shave Me.” and foam runs out my mouth
and out the shave cream can, followed by the silky slide
of razor across round puff ball behind. These hairs
are tiny sensors of desire and their freedom
makes me ache for summers in the prick and tingle
of grass curling along the hips of every woman
I ever loved.



:


Pittsburgh Pennsylvania: ELizabeth Nettrour

"Forsaken"

Curved around cupid fingers, sticky with oatmeal, milk, and pears, his flaxen strands peak out, wink, and coo at us from the casket of our eldest one. These curls are specked too, brimmed by plastic daisies, ants, and fireflies. His willow-whisp lashes flutter, blink, and peep at us from the halo of our foresaken son.

A blue-eyed boy sprung forth in amazement from my tired womb. Arms filled with baskets of laughter spilling wet giggles and butterflies into my lap.

:


washington DC:

"Akie Diddle Du"

Sitting in darkness, inhaleing coconut
I rub oil on Daudu hair
A special nappiness that can only be acheived
when no one is dwelling on complications
It's all about truth in growth uncontrolled
no need to plead on the accepted code
this is the Real
as we grow to be bold
listening to the untold

written by: Zayan K. Montaocean

:


Laurel, Maryland: Scott Espeut

I watched you struggle with your master - the overwhelming Negrisity encapsulated in the wooly halo that enslaved you
You pulled, bleached, and burned anything that resembled the essence of your ancestors hoping that I'd love you more in the process
Until you realized the mirror gave you a free trip to Africa every morning, no matter what you did
And that was something to be proud of....
Even though you gotta wear a wig after that Stank-ass bitch at Ray-Ray's Salon left the relaxer in too long.

:


owings, md: kim stark
poem one -hair of a loved one-

i cried the night you left
my tears stained the pillow in the guest bedroom
where you faded away to nothing.
i found a short piece of white, aquanetted hair there
and held on to it tightly.
no hospitals, sterilized death, stark white walls for you, grandma.
you were too full of life to die as blandly as that.
your perfume lingers softly in the pale peach room
i finger the delicate strand that is your legacy
and cry again.

:


: Alright. Round One is done. The winners are: pc Scearce, Kara Elizabeth Norman, Tasha Stewart, Ramsey Brisueno, Christian Hokenson, Jason Purdy, Eboni Bugg, Laura Wides, Matt Kincaid, Yodio Lo, John F. Wasik, Demetria Dixon, Adrienne Brown.


Congrats! Now you guys have to come back here tomorrow with 7 line, free-verse poems about "A Sunday morning". Same bat time, same bat channel. Submit NOW!


Peace


   
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