Sunday, August 10, 2008

Dropping In + A Few Remembrances

It has been a while, a long while, since my last post, three weeks in fact, and unfortunately though I would like to say I'm better, it's probably best to say that I'm still facing some health challenges right now. I do want to thank everyone who's posted on the blog or sent private emails with good wishes, links to YouTube videos, and e-cards. I definitely appreciate all of them. I do hope some of the medical options I have work out, sooner rather than later, and that I can return to posting regularly, or at least semi-regularly. Until then, I'll keep reading your blogs and posting when I feel up to it. And again, thanks for your concern.


I'd be remiss if I didn't post a few memorial links for some notables who've passed in recent days.

They include one of Cave Canem's sages and longest-lived Fellows, Ms. Carrie Allen McCray Nickens, with whom I had the very good fortune to be in a workshop back in 1999. Carrie was a font of talent, knowledge, experience, courage, and wisdom, and like everyone at CC, I will miss her voice, stories and emails, along with her generous spirit, tremendously. She was 95.

Poet and musician Kevin Simmonds, who often checked in on Ms. Carrie, sent along this poem she wrote to be read at her funeral. Would that we all head home with such a smile in our hearts.

Sing No Sad Songs For Me

Sing no sad songs for me
For I have heard the robin sing
And felt the rush of wind through my hair.

Sing no sad songs for me
For I have known the love of man for woman,
And heard the first birth cry of a newborn.

Sing no sad songs for me
For I have held the second and third generation
In my arms, and reveled in the continuity of family.

Sing no sad songs for me
For I have walked with my fellow man,
And been touched by God's abiding love.

So sing no sad songs for me
Sing songs of peace, love and joy
For I have been touched by God's gentle grace and gone home.

Copyright © Carrie Allen McCray Nickens, 2008.

Also, taken too soon, the comedian and Chicago native Bernie Mac (Bernard McCullough) who passed away in Evanston at age 50. I almost cannot believe the reports that he's gone. And the great musician, actor and soul-stirrer Isaac Hayes, whose music formed much of the soundtrack of my childhood and which I still listen to often today, died at age 65.

Here's a video of him singing "Shaft." Check out that outfit--the man was, as they used to say, baaaaaaadddddd!!!!

And Alexander Solzhenitsyn, the 1970 Nobel Laureate in literature, who was one of the foremost dissidents during the late Soviet period and whose novels recounted his and countless lives and deaths under that regime. Today, I learned that one of the most beloved poets of the Palestinians, Mahmoud Darwish, also died. He was 67.

Here's one of his poems, from the Academy of American Poets site:

I belong there. I have many memories. I was born as everyone is born.

I have a mother, a house with many windows, brothers, friends, and a
prison cell

with a chilly window! I have a wave snatched by seagulls, a panorama
of my own.

I have a saturated meadow. In the deep horizon of my word, I have a moon,

a bird's sustenance, and an immortal olive tree.

I have lived on the land long before swords turned man into prey.

I belong there. When heaven mourns for her mother, I return heaven to

her mother.

And I cry so that a returning cloud might carry my tears.

To break the rules, I have learned all the words needed for a trial by blood.

I have learned and dismantled all the words in order to draw from them a

single word: Home.

From Unfortunately, It Was Paradise by Mahmoud Darwish translated and
Edited by Munir Akash and Carolyn Forché with Sinan Antoon and Amira El-Zein.
Copyright © 2003 by the Regents of the University of California.
Reprinted by permission of the University of California Press.
All rights reserved.


  1. Hi and thanks for your blog. I wanted to ask whether you would consider a reciprocal link to my photo blog Anyway I hope your health is improving, my friend had kidney stones, not very pleasant to say the least! LI can be contacted here, thanks, Jas

  2. Hey John, hope you get better soon. We don't really appreciate our excretory systems till they go haywire... but I gotta say, I could live without the occasional reminders to be grateful. Take care.

  3. Nice blog you have going on. Came across it doing a Google search for the loin cloth twins from Zimbabwe from a couple of years ago. Anyway, submit your blog to and get people to vote for it as the best blogspot blog.

  4. hey john..

    just saw this...hope you are well. kidney stones again?

    will try and call you later on this weekend to see how you are doing...or email you.

    get well soon!

  5. I just happened to "drop in", and learned that you're not feling well. Stay strong brotha! And never stop being creative!


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  7. Sorry you're not feeling well! I came across your blog by accident and really like it - it's a great mix. I enjoyed your post about "Passing Strange" - I just blogged about "Fela!," which I hope you'll be able to see. Musical theater isn't usually my thing, but I think it's a pretty smart production.