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Texts from MediAmerica Performance Project:

My daughter's thick, curling locks run wild about her head
She resists all efforts to tame them.
I slid my fingers inside and let them dance in the waves.
My mother's face is a sour lemon of discontent;
She wants her granddaughter to do something with her hair.
I slid my fingers inside and let them dance.
My son speaks perfect English and fluent French.
"What you trying to be white?" The neighborhood children taunt.
"A brother can't be black and intelligent?" He flings back.
My daughter's first baby doll was black.
I searched all over the city for it;
Clawed through boxes of blondes, redheads,
Sifted through shelf after beige shelf for brown skin.
My daughter's second baby doll was black.
I moved all the black dolls to the front in every store I went to.
Want to guess what my daughter's third baby doll was?
By the time she got that her first white doll,
She had no need to remake her image.
My daughter's thick, curling locks run wild about her head.
I slid my fingers inside and let them dance in the waves.

--Valentine Pierce

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I am fire. You can find me on the streets of this city walking into New Orleans mission on O C Haley, and you will find me in the belly of a brother waiting in line for a lukewarm meal. Three blocks down past Café Reconcile, you will find me in the walls of a crumbling building or the ashes of a burnt rusty Oldsmobile. This is where I come to smolder.
I, I am fire. I am the fire in the soul of a jazz trumpet on Frenchmen Street hoping for another gig while I sustain myself on Dewars and Marlboro’s, but til then I’mma keep playing.

I, I am fire. I am the fire of a 19% poverty rate hustling in the 9th ward. I am the fire that promises myself I’mma get out even, wait til you see.

I, I am fire. I am the fire in the ass of a teenage Vietnamese racer boy rockin my tricked out candy red ’95 Civic on Michoud Blvd. coming up on you from behind in a hurry, eager to prove to the world what I got in my heart and under my hood--sucka wait til you see…

I, I am fire. I am the fire that walks two blocks up to your gated garden district home, peering through your window, trying to unlock you from your iron bars. I’m the fire you think is trying to rob you, but I am trying to free you.

I, I am fire. I am the fire driving that dirty south hip hop beat blasting from a ’92 iroc t-top no stopping now bumpin to the beat, cruising down Canal Street, smilin atcha with mah gold teeth, now I’m shinin… I, I am fire. I am the fire of collective OC Haley Michoud Mid City Bywater Gentilly Uptown memory. I am the fire of a new Orleans heatwave in July downtown. I laugh at your hurricanes. I dance in your rain. I keep you hungry. I am the fire of this city that always remains.

--Sung Hong

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THE DREAM

I had a dream that we were all gods & we were perfect & the world was perfect & everything was so perfect that there was nothing we had to do, nowhere we needed to go, just perfect, perfect, perfect everywhere all the time, so perfect that it was...freakin’ hell.

You ever have one of those moments when you’re suddenly hyper aware of the moment you’re in? Well, I was just standing under a tree but I was standing under a tree & I knew it. It’s like all of a sudden you realize where you are & wonder if maybe your whole life before you’d been having an out-of-body experience, then you suddenly found your body & dropped into it, & there you are standing under a tree on Canal Blvd, going "How’d I get here?" Just then the tree I was standing under waved at me & informed me that we weren’t really that different, that it liked to play, enjoy the sunshine, gossip a little about the wind. See, just because trees don’t speak our language doesn’t mean they aren’t saying something. It’s all a matter of listening. And I enjoyed the conversation very much & everything was great until the leaves started to chime in, & then it just got too loud, & I thought, I don’t need this & I went home.

I had a dream that we decided to make up a story about being only human becuz then we could create games with winners & losers, & become human racings, human doings, human was-ings, human wanna-beings. And it was such a perfect story that we believed it completely & it became...a living freakin’ hell.

Have you ever felt isolated? It’s easy to have that feeling sometimes in today’s e-society. But, as we’ve already discussed, people & trees aren’t the only antidotes. There are plenty of other forms of energy just waiting for our recognition. One day I was at home putting ice cubes in a glass, & I noticed that there was one ice cube left in the tray, all alone, ice-olated, & I instantly thought, "Oh, it might feel lonely," so I grabbed it, too. When I realized later that I had anthropomorphized an ice cube, I thought it was either pathetic or mystical. Pathetic or mystical? Mystical, definitely mystical. As I said, it’s all a matter of listening. That single ice cube taught me that isolation is a state of mind; after all, why feel lonely when I can just open my freezer?

In my dream we still secretly knew that we were gods & that the story was just a story, & we remembered our perfection in our dreams. So every now & then, when some annoying gods began to think they were The God of the whole universe...well, being gods, we don’t like being demoted so we’d argue & spit & kick one another & draw some lines in the earth & pretend to be all different, even though we all bleed. And then, deep down, we’d feel bad about it because we knew that we were all the same. And it was...just a freakin’ dream, you know?

Everyone knows that cats know they are gods. Maybe the Egyptians taught them that or maybe they just are. I know my cat Dino was at least a saint who used all of his lives just to teach me a few simple things about life. I used to pride myself on being an outcast until it occurred to me one day that maybe I was never really cast out; I just wasn’t invited into the In group, so I stayed out. But I never fully understood until I learned to listen to The Dino. He used to sit in the center of the doorway forever, & I’d get impatient & demand that he make a choice: "In or out, Dino? In. Or. Out." I knew he understood me because he would look up & say, "INOOUUT." Because the Dino knew that In & Out aren’t exclusive—they’re just concepts we made up, like right & left, birth & death. When he died, I poked my finger into his ashes, licked it, & swallowed his dust. Now that I’m without The Dino, he is within me, which makes in & out, birth & death redundant.


I dreamed that I woke up & wasn’t sure whether we were all humans or gods (or both), dreaming or awake (or both)—but I was hoping we were all still dreaming so I wouldn’t have to go to work & I was desperately hoping that my boss wasn’t a god while I was human—& so, driven by uncertainty, I turned off the alarm (which sounded a lot like a cat caught in a tangle of leaves), got up, made some iced coffee, & decided, well, life is uncertain, whether you’re dreaming or awake, so I’ll act as if I’m awake

---Kelly Broussard Jason


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