Jamaica Bay Machhua

she slang her dress over her knee

tightly bundled 

tucks her carefully pinned dupatta into her sweater

already damp and heavy

from leaning into the water all afternoon

squatting into scaly run off 

legs and back bent like a frog’s

As the sun runs 

from the docks 

she scrapes peanut bunker into a bucket

from the tarp 

spread across their commandeered

section of the pier

Warning the ladkis not to play

near the railings

she spies the looming quiet

amongst the overhead planes passing

the quarreling chess players

brightening bachata music 

and distant rumbling of cars on the Belt Parkway

that surrounds her family 

Serenity seeps into every fisher face

gazing into the bay

the darkness soon come

as they say

Time to get home for dinner

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Minister Mama

no stabbing demons

or slaying dragons for me

I didn’t save your legs from breaking

or solve the world’s aching

heroics aren’t really my thing

no mountain of lies did I chip away at

or speak great truths to be had

I lack luster and deservedness

less than special

but I did get through this day

Doggedly rode out the pain

in between bad caffeine shots

and propped eyelids and bandaged hearts

because the mission mandates 

that I just

I just 

make it to tomorrow 

The Month After September

It’s cold out as tourists snap pictures of the gaping hole in the center of the 9/11 Memorial site. People are unfazed by the rain as it mixes into the constantly churning waters. The sound of the giant, cubic waterfall drowns out the rest of the city in this congested part of lower Manhattan. In the distance, the museum gleams, packed with even more people.  

Officers wielding large weapons appear every few minutes or so, scanning the area instead of taking it in. Some people march by, dressed in suits or business attire, barely glancing at the memorial as they file by in herds towards the rebuilt train station. Others stare down into the gushing rapids, or carefully run their hands over the hundreds of names engraved in the black stone surrounding the water. Everyone is trying to take the best picture to bring home in commemoration. They have to bend in awkward angles because the memorial sites for both buildings are vast in depth and size, and hard to fit into frame.   

The blown out windows in all of the bordering buildings are all fixed. Dust in the streets has been replaced by sturdy, dark concrete that stretches in every direction. A new Starbucks is bustling, while the destroyed corner church’s construction is still underway. It’s walls will have vines, green patches, and an observation deck overlooking both of the tower memorials. In the background, the freedom tower is tall and brightly lit in the onslaught of night. The first few floors flicker on and off in a subtle pattern. From the plaza there is no bottom in sight to the waterfall. It seems to go on forever into the ground.

 

11th Annual Honk NYC Music Fest Kickoff At The City Reliquary Museum

When’s the last time you heard an all brass brand play The Game of Thrones theme song and then seamlessly shift into the polka version of Britney Spears’s Toxic? No? Shame on you.

The 11th annual Honk New York City marching band festival officially kicked off with a packed yard and an explosion of music, food, and dancing, at the legendary City Reliquary Museum in Bushwick.

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The City Reliquary Museum yard and the Nevermind Orchestra starting the show at the Honk NYC festival.

Honk NYC is the gathering of street and marching bands locally and nationally, and in some cases internationally, to perform instrumental music for diversified audiences. Shows will be from October 10th to the 15th, spanning the city from Staten Island to Harlem with a guest spot in New Jersey. The bands playing at the event were The Nevermind Orchestra, The L Train Brass Band, and the New Creations Band.

According to Sara Valentine, Honk NYC Festival Steward and Co-Founder, the festival started out as an accident. It was a dinner party and a subsequent after party between rather talented friends, namely the Hungry March Band, that snowballed into three years’ worth of musical bashes before it became official. It is now the festival’s 11th year visiting the city from its original point in Boston.

“It’s accessible,” said Valentine on why she thinks marching band music in particular is so successful, “Can happen anywhere. It’s history. And it’s likely you’ve played that instrument as a kid.”

As of May 2016, the U.S Department of Labor reported that New York is the second highest employer of musicians and singers that play one or more musical instruments or sing; perform on a stage; and that perform for on-air broadcasting, or for sound or video recording.

Emily Smith, of the Seattle-based Filthy Femcorps band, said, “Marching bands, we’re a community.” She as well as several of the members of the performing bands actively participate in multiple or each other’s bands, fostering a real sense of unity among the musicians.

The bands certainly kept up the playful atmosphere among the functional tree house and bar located in the wide, ornate yard behind the museum. The New Creations Band that closed out the celebrations had a saxophonist that literally lit his instrument on fire as a final shocking note

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New Creations saxophonist that lit his instrument on fire as a final performance act.

Musical selections ranged from comical Friday the 13th songs to traditional New Orleans big band classics. There was even an original composition such as L Train Brass Band member Ryan Hall’s Bushwick, which encompasses the groove, people, and general weirdness of his favorite neighborhood.

“You see who’s here. White, Black, Asian people. Every culture has a grass band tradition,” said Valentine. More than anything she expressed that the festival’s mission is about making connections, not through social media or cell phones, but in real life with music across all backgrounds.

Community Joins Forces to #GetBKOrganized Against Racism in Brooklyn

Senior Rabbi Rachel Timoner and the Racial Justice Subgroup of Get Organized Brooklyn have banded together on Wednesday to assist with their community in self organizing efforts to confront racism in Brooklyn in response to the white nationalist rally and attack in Charlotte, Virginia.

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Senior Rabbi Rachel Timoner shown before her opening remarks for the GOBK meeting

The Charlottesville incident last month concluded when several people were fatally injured after a man ran his car into a crowd of counter-demonstrators at a white nationalist gathering.

In response, the Brooklyn organization decided that it was important for white and non-white members to reflect on root causes of white nationalism that affect their borough. Since last year the massive bi-monthly meetings brought together a “multi-racial, multi faith” group focused on breaking down systematic racism. About 300 people were in attendance in the large auditorium, quietly murmuring amongst themselves until the beginning of the meeting.

Councilman Lander, who was present and in full support of the group, and Rabbi Timoner gave brief introductions and updates on the agenda. Dara Silverman, director of Powerlabs, which is a network that backs other independently run organizations took the floor.

“Racism isn’t just what happens in the south, or in Charlottesville, or in other places, but it also happens here in Brooklyn,” said Silverman. She spoke briefly on different forms of oppression.

The other prominent speaker and group member, Eric Ward, advocated for positive and creative responses to bigotry or racism rather than violence, such as marching or artistic expressions.

“The best defense is unity,” said Ward, “unapologetic unity.”

A panel of community leaders spoke on diverse subjects such as the criminal justice system, segregated schools in New York city, passing meaningful legislation, and intergenerational incarceration.

As part of the non-hierarchal philosophy, the closing “break out groups,” small sections of attendees that are interested in specific panel discussions or activist subgroups, convened afterwards. They even took to separate floors or rooms in the building with self-appointed leaders to hyper focus on their interrelated agendas.

“We have these mass gatherings,” Timoner said, “to build democracy. I do think that’s the answer.” She said that they are committed to holding an open space for people to continue to organize themselves and make an impact.

Your Mother Wears a House Dress

If your house

is a dress
it’ll fit like
Los Angeles
red sun
burning west,
deserts, fields,
for certain it will
drape even
a boy no less
boy in disrepair
wandering from shore
to crest, others
mistake his
searching for
despair, no,
never, but
for thirst,
cloaked as
he is, warm,
radiant in a
house dress.

By Joseph O. Legaspi