- la fete
la fete (for Brother Shaheed Abdul Muhammed)
To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.(Ecclesiastes 3:1)
. . . the quality of the music is judged not by the ability of the players, but by the success of the occasion as a social event. How good a time people had.—Eric Charry
the signal, a break beat dou gou dou gou dou gou dou gou kack kack kack collects a chorus through all the calluses and dust: sienna in motion. dume gou dou kack dume gou dou kack runs parallel to thigh muscles, a relucent line between layers, like past incarnations, the same intensity of light, emanating from any number of remote voices, overlaps to interlock. dume gou dou kack prose breaks into meter. forget in part, your part, but recall the whole history of the village in tingling tips of fingers as if it was a dream, hands still percussing your pattern, the pattern: gou dou gou dou dou kackgou dou gou dou dou kack
do not take this out of context. there are no spectators in balandougou or the bush. come singly, by twos, or threes to the challenge to enchant feet to beat the earth into song, match step for tone, a hip shake for every high pitch of slap: kack kack kack kack, gou, kack kack kack kack, gou— strengths, weaknesses exposed in individuals are masked in consistory of echoes. a kinetic brume implicates the living dead in this circle of the living. as identity so old it smells of smelting minerals pours from a lenge chalice orchestra like libation. gou dou gou dou dou kackgou dou gou dou dou kack such elegant diction and clear enunciation even though everything is a little out of tune as it should be. there is a time [End Page 502]
to fete, and to cry out; a time to welcome the birth of ancestors, and to marry villages; a time to thank the rains, and to honor the sacred grove; a time to throw bones, and to question the wind; a time to taste metal sharp in your mouth, and a time to cut back foreskin; how else do you keep time except with a jembe?
there is no question after you kuku, simply consensus:
there are drummers; and everybody else awakens to the dance.
dume gou dou kack dume gou dou kackdume gou dou kack dume gou dou kackkack kack kack kack kack kack kack kack kack kack kack kackdou gou dou gou dou gou dou gou kack kack kack [End Page 503]
Makalani Bandele is a Louisville, Kentucky native. He is an ordained Baptist minister and pastored churches in North Carolina before becoming a writer, musician, and freelance instructor of literature and creative writing. A Cave Canem fellow and one of the Affrilachian Poets, he has won the Ernest Sandeen Poetry Prize and a Literary LEO 1st Prize in Poetry. hellfightin’ (Willow Books, 2011) is his first full-length volume of poetry. His poems have been published in Mythium Literary Magazine, Tidal Basin Review, Pluck!: The Journal of Affrilachian Arts and Culture, Black Arts Quarterly, Platte Valley Review, and Sou’wester.