Reading: Of Darker Ceremonies by Phillip B. Williams

Phillip B. Williams (b. 1986) is the youngest poet I have read here so far, seven years younger than myself. He is from Chicago and is currently teaching at Bennington college. I read something I found that was inspired by hip hop:

After “E. 1999 Eternal” by Bone Thugs-n-Harmony
Dear god of armed robberies and puff-puff-pass,
a chalk outline unpeels from the street, smashes
every windshield, and leaves florid temples of crack
on porches. Burnt-black pleats of   joint-pressed lips
prophesied your return. Please accept these nickel bags
as offerings. Brick bastions of piss-stench thresholds
and boarded windows require a weekly sacrifice.
Is there a Tarot card called “The Corner,” a shrike
shown lifting a corpse from the pike of a middle finger?
Children speak to their murdered brothers with a cereal box
and construction paper cut into a Ouija’s tongue that licks
yes when asked if   liquor could polish a skull in a way
pleasing to the dead, licks no when asked for a name.

Hip-hop inspired poetry. Williams has written elsewhere about the empty heaping of syllables in hip hop, the god of armed robberies and puff-puff-pass seems an apt adressee for this epistular poem. The murder is described precisely: The chalk outline ‘comes to life’ and goes on a rampage smashing windshield and shooting around. The return that was prophesied is the cycle of violence that has plagued the American ghettos and gave rise to groups like Bone Thugs-n-Harmony, NWA, the Wutang Clan, and so on.

The tribute to the criminal overlord is described cynically “brick bastions of piss-stench thresholds and boarded windows” (I only know these from the video clips and an occassional glance at Brooklyn’s darker parts.

I don’t understand the Tarot card, but it looks like quite the horror. The cereal box scene is difficult too. Do you have any idea what it means?

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