OKP Premiere: Saul Williams Unveils His Poem "Rottweiler Choir" [Composed For Amiri Baraka's Funeral]
photo by Khalid Naji-Allah for the Washington Informer
Like many OKP readers, we were by turns moved and exhilarated by the firsthand account of Amiri Baraka‘s homegoing services in Newark this past weekend, shared with us by artist Dwayne Rodgers . The emotional crescendo of Dwayne’s account is undoubtedly this sentence:
“During the service, poet Saul Williams intoned ‘This is a stick up. Amiri get out of the coffin’–and then he spoke of Lazarus.”
Okayplayer is honored that Saul has chosen this space to unveil that poem, composed in Baraka’s honor and delivered to the assembled survivors and mourners that day in Newark, making Okayplayer the publisher of record for this original work. Without further pre-amble, we present that poem, titled “Rottweiler Choir” in full. Try to remain calm.
This NGH died for something. 1
I don’t go for old age.
I don’t go for disease.
I say murder.
Which poets die of natural causes?
Which poems kill?
I saw the rifles pointed.
Jesse Jackson with that blood on his shirt.
Monk on an “expression-scriber.”
Sometimes, pianos make better sense
of trees than the trees themselves.
Charlie Parker, what you say?
“A typewriter is corny!” ²
This is a stick up.
Amiri get out of the coffin.
I saw you dancing on Langston’s ashes.
They raised the bounty
on Assata Shakur’s head
and called it “inflation.’
Elvis ain’t even
left the building.
(To be fair, he’s patrolling outside
w/Lauryn Hill under house arrest.)
Lying-in-state of New Jersey.
Washington uncross the Delaware.
Tell the governor to stop up the bridge.
We can’t let this poets’ spirit get out of here.
We are gathered here today
to get thru this thing called life.
Elctrc wrd: Life. It means Forever.
And I mean to tell you, there’s nothing else.
Even death is a part of life.
Either this is a funeral
or this is the senate floor.
We all knew the politicians would show up.
We gon Lo-ku’ the twitterverse.
God as a prostitute
male-model caught in
the World Trade bathroom.
Neither God could have made this up.
Somebody said Jesus
got caught at the border.
I say, if you let Lazarus fly
Amiri get up and walk.
Can’t go out like that.
American culture is televisional.
Time to conceptualize a series.
The good news is
half of America was
waiting for u to die
in order to read u.
I saw an eagle flying over Harlem.
NGH I’m not even makin’ this up.
Leaning on a light post.
The New York Times
ain’t exactly caught up.
Shot him down in a polarizing vortex.
was no centrist
unless u count