Bardic Circle Rap

By Steve Trombulak

 

I was walkin’ down the road at this festival one night,

with thoughts of birds and the bees

under the stars and the trees.

I had some mead to feed my need

‘cause it’s my creed to slow my speed,

and it’s a fact I do concede

that I was feelin’ alright.

 

I came upon this guy, and he was lookin’ kind of low;

perplexed, full of strife,

like there’s a hex on his life,

and his face held a craze

like he was lost in a maze;

thus immobilized, rooted in place

he had nowhere to go.

 

So I said to him, Friend, I don’t mean to be rude,

but the grace of this place

should erase such a face.

Through day, dusk, and dark

we surf on ripples and sparks.

Your ride’s about to embark!

What’s the marrow of the sorrow

that leads to your attitude?

 

Well, I don’t want to complain,

but this festival is lame.

There is no lace, there is no leather,

there is no spirit at the fire.

There’s no dancin’, or trancin’, or even romancin’,

just elders prancin’ enough to drive me insane.

 

I could see he was thinkin’ that perhaps he should go,

so I said, Come with me to this place that I know.

A sonic bubble of words,

a perfect circle of bards;

not babble from the rabble, or divination from cards.

It’s not hard to embrace, not like taxes or school.

Radio Free Mental Space, and we got just one rule.

 

You gotta bring it (bring it), bring everything you got.

You gotta bring it (bring it), cool as ice or smokin’ hot.

You gotta bring it (bring it), bring your head and heart and soul,

‘cause our goal is to roll through the night and behold

who we are in this fold.

 

I’m talkin’ ‘bout poetry, friend, words that bring you alive,

shine a light, hold a mirror, cut to bones with a knife.

He said, Poetry? Shit, man, what’s poetry done?

It’s just rap with a snap,

rhymin’ jive in the sun.

 

What’s poetry done? Hell, wake up to the world.

It’s poets who showed how to get our freak flags unfurled.

It’s poets who stared down the barrels of guns,

and held up lanterns brighter than thousands of suns.

It’s poets who remind us what teachers make;

what’s at stake if we mistake

what’s real and what’s fake.

 

They’re dreamers and schemers who dare to aspire,

and the best minds of MY generation are still howling from mountain tops,

watching for fires;

still howling from watch towers, temples, and farms,

howling for justice, sounding social alarms.

Reflecting what’s real, what we see but ignore;

what we love, what we fear,

what’s gone past, what’s in store.

When we’re angry at oil spills or blissed out in love,

it’s poets who shines the light from above.

 

‘Cause we bring it (bring it), we bring what we feel.

We bring it (bring it), we only bring the real deal.

We bring it (bring it), to our circle of kin,

and begin to spin what’s really within ‘cause we know

if it’s less then it’s surely a sin.

 

He said, Wait a minute, Chester, you know I don’t have much to say;

I still have all my hair and my beard ain’t grey.

I haven’t lost at love, at least no more so than most.

I’ve no boasts and no ghosts or testimonial toasts;

I’d be roasted alive if I offered my jive.

 

Listen to me, let your life show the way.

You need not experience death; if you’ve ever drawn breath

you have somethin’ to say.

And the structure and form conforms to no norm.

Strict rhyme in time …

… to free verse with words that barely connect with one another.

 

You’ll shine with your lines,

whether prose or pentameter iambic,

and the ladies always dig a guy who’s poly … syllabic.

 

And words needn’t be from your originality.

Read OPP, or Other People’s Poetry.

There’s Edward Taylor, Taylor Mali, Molly Ivins, Ivan Franko,

Frank O’Hara, Harry Graham, Graham Leese, Lisa Zaran,

Sarah Ryan, Ryan Lewis, Lewis Carroll, Carol Coe,

or even if you want, some dude named Poe.

 

We read Casey at the Bat, and the Cat and the Hat;

if it speaks to where you’re at,

then pin it to the mat.

 

He said, You know, I think I feel it, I think I get what you’re about.

It’s what you learn on your turn;

it’s the journey, not the route.

It’s not a stage, they’re not your audience,

they’re your people, they’re your crew.

It’s not rhymin’ for the masses; it’s sacred what you do.

 

Now you get it son, so come make this circle strong.

Gie us a gift and make your voice lift,

it’s here that you belong.

Find your voice, speak your words, join this circle of the bards.

Say it fast or make it last,

but whatever comes to pass,

just get up here and KICK MY ASS.

 

And if you bring it (bring it), the best that you are able.

If you bring it (bring it), leave nothin’ on the table.

If you bring it (bring it), and let us know what you’re about,

show your heart and your dreams, you’re soul and your schemes,

your tears and your fears and all you hold dear,

with a laser-like whisper or a feather-light shout,

then you can always be proud of what you brought. Word out.

 

 

(c) 2011 by Steve Trombulak

For Billy and Ulf, who keep bringing it year after year.