Monthly Archives: October 2013

The author at Brecht's grave, Berlin, 2006 [Nina Fleck]

The author at Brecht’s grave, Berlin, 2006 [Nina Fleck]

The rain stopped and the sky nested stars that twinkled so crisply, so brightly it made you wonder how such a beautiful sky could hang over such a miserable city. He should have felt excited to be in a foreign city, but he wasn’t. Evil beginnings and wretched sameness would protrude. Trust no one, he suspected. And don’t look anyone in the eye…their lies, pretense, and pain would be enough to cripple a horse.

He walked into a kiosk. The Turkish proprietor lowered the radio so he could give the Maestro his full attention. He knew he was American, but, more importantly, he knew he was on the prowl, in search of a common dialogue. The Maestro purchased some cigarettes and a couple of candy bars. The proprietor was excited to hear that he had come from New York City and inquired about Queens, Brooklyn, and Harlem. He explained that all of his favorite musical acts were from those areas and if he knew any of them. The Maestro replied that he did, of course, and the proprietor’s eyes lit up and he reached out to touch his hand. The Maestro was taken back a bit and of course he realized that no, he was not on a horse, had not carried a gun, and his was name was not Cortes. He wondered if this was when he was supposed to turn on the man and destroy him, but then saw that he’d have to destroy himself too and gave it up.
The proprietor kissed his ringed hand and released him. He then smiled and told the Maestro how much he enjoyed listening to music. The Maestro agreed and said that he was angry for not bringing his portable CD player and headphones. The proprietor graciously offered to loan him a set, but he refused. He then asked the Maestro why in the world had he come to Germany of all places (“the asshole of Europe”) and how long would he be staying. The Maestro told him his story and gave him a flyer for his concert.
A tall dark woman hidden behind a fortress of make-up and extremely tight black clothing entered the store. She chewed gum, talked on a phone, and threw Youssef (the proprietor’s name was Youssef) some cash for a couple of packs of cigarettes. Youssef tried engaging her in some lively chatter, but all attempts failed. The woman had cigarettes to smoke, gum to chew, and people to call. Talking with anyone was purely out of the question. Jilted again, Youssef gave her her change and waved goodbye to one more human being too quick, too fast, in a rush to go nowhere.
“They never look me in the eye. They always think I’m
trying to flirt with them. I’m not. I just try to talk…”
The Maestro smiled and nodded. His heart ached and he understood.
“I work here every day and no women will talk to me. It’s not real. I feel not real…That’s why I like to listen to music. I like Hip Hop music. And Blues music. Black music is the original music…It is the soul, no?”
He nodded.
“When the New Orleans happened, when the hurricane in New Orleans–I was very sad. Very very sad…I could feel…like my heart torn from my body. I saw these pictures and I thought it was just terrible. And those people suffered, lost their homes. America will not help these black people? It is racist, no? Like Berlin, here.”
Give me a break, pal, I just got off the plane.
“I want to know something,” Youssef intoned, conspiring with the Maestro, just standing inches away from him whispering in his ear. “Why the black people are not doing something about this? And I don’t understand the black people who always seem happy to be American. What does that mean?”
He understood Youssef’s question, but had no clue to answer and he didn’t want to get into it. “I don’t understand it either,” was all he could seem to muster. It was simply too early for this shit. Racism tomorrow, he thought. Right now let’s deal with the essentials: women, weather, and wisecracks. But of course he realized the essentials were the things you could never escape. Women are necessary to life, they give life. And destroy life. And they can make things difficult for all powerless men at all times if they choose to. Yes, women are always a fine and healthy obsession to discuss and dissect. Like cancer or the journey through the birth canal. But weather? Weather is not important unless you are leading a war on foot. Wisecracks are for the young and insecure. But discussions on Racism always rouse the soul and re-align the spine. It forces you to admit truths about the world and about yourself and the psychosis we have been led to believe in.

— from “The Maestro” a novella by Dennis Leroy Kangalee, (c) 2006

The Maestro

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And When They Cut Him Open

there was a deer found inside the snake

its bones bellowing to be set free.
in this ocean, on this side of the universe
where truth runs thin
like oxygenated blood thru the
frame of a well endowed
set of eyes that had seen it all
and even remembered when it was
not luxury to be alive,
but a simple matter of fact, and
on a good day –
a blessing
heat was all he asked for.

Heat and a good night’s sleep.


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Tourists in Harlem…

The Nomad Junkie’s comedic interlude about ignorant, annoying, and ultimately racist tourists assaulting Harlem and “inner-city” enclaves. Written & performed by Dennis Leroy Kangalee, directed by Nina Fleck. This excerpt is from the 2011 premiere of “Gentrified Minds” at the Downtown Urban Theater Festival at the Manhattan Movement & Arts Center.

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2:03 A.M.

2:03 A.M.


So the cat snores for me–in and out, her blind head aside the throw pillow;
even scratches here and there to remain present, to be safe in her sleep or her dream or where ever she’s gone once all the pizza has been eaten and the neighbors have stopped buzzing their doors…traffic swills along Frederick Douglass — the boulevard I’ve walked many times in my dreams but never in daylight; the clarity of all that has not happened is to brutal
like a canker sore
on that first date

or when you realized that life wasn’t unfair — it was simply whatever you wanted it to be, but as your darts fell off the charts and your bullseye became paying the week’s bill just to stay in the race

you realize you’ve lost long ago; I mean I lost long ago
I played
I stayed
I made
So many are good at playing —
so why the long face and dry mouth?
The cross eyes and gray hairs
The stammered mouth, crazy stares

all the errors of my elders I have become
and un-focused

even my loins have diced and broken in two, cant decide which way to flow or grow or go–
there’s no center here, anymore, I have

i am a bursting little rumble in my stomach
a curvy rusty scythe in my belly
a face faked out of functioning harm and forced charm
and nothing
as far as plans or projections or descriptions or prescriptions
as far as the ring will bow
and distend
as far as the bell
will ring
cause man knows
it certainly won’t toll

It takes a solid arm to toll a bell
all i’ve left are a few inches of finger and stained skin
that only wished it knew
the comfort
of a glove

— from the chapbook, Lying Meat.

You ever wake up in the morning and have about five things wrong with you, but you just lay in the bed (or whatever you use to make a bed) staring out into the grainy space in your dark room and try to figure out which problem to deal with first? Such as: should I go to the bathroom first before I get nervous about having not paid rent or should I put socks on now before I touch the floor cause it’s cold and I can’t afford to get sick? – well the General woke up this way every morning. And his days were long agonies into the depths of his innumerable problems, with no end in sight no meaning no tags no order. Riddles that could not be solved. How is it possible to continue living when you actually do know the outcome of what it is you are doing. You don’t know what it means, but you know how it’s going to end. I ask you: How is it possible? How can it be that every fear does come to fruition, but the harm, the pain can’t and won’t go away? The cruelty in the room alone was breaking his very will to move, think, or breathe. His feelings, his imagination. And he always thought he was tough. But a tough person is just a supersensitive person inside out. The world – or at least their system in it – didn’t care if you were tough. It was more interested in what you were willing to give up.

— from “Where Ladybugs Go to Die” by Dennis Leroy Kangalee, (c) 2006


You Ever Wake Up and Have About Five Things Wrong With You…

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The Best Thieves

The best thieves are never heard of, spoken about, written up, or remembered.
They’re unheard of legacies existing largely in the minds of
courageous and misled orphans of crime.
Not greedy or proud, but afflicted and torn

Between the road of Art
& the cul-de-sac called Hell.

They have no empires to build or flags to raise.
Just a conscience to bear,
maybe a diaper
to change.

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