Saul Williams – Release

I first heard of Saul Williams in two different places in the same week. Both were songs, one was Release by Blackalicious (if you want to skip to Williams’ part, use this link); the other was a version of Nine Inch Nails’ Survivalism featuring Williams. Unfortunately I can’t find it online, but there are other songs by NIN featuring Williams. I picked up his book, Dead Emcee Scrolls, and since then he’s been one of my favourite poets and my favourite spoken word poet.

‘Through meditation I program my heart to beat breakbeats and hum basslines on exhalation’

This is his ‘verse’ from Release.

 

Release

Inner breathlessness, outer restlessness
By the time I caught up to freedom I was out of breath
Grandma asked me what I’m running for
I guess I’m out for the same thing the sun is sunning for
What mothers birth their youngens for
And some say Jesus coming for
For all I know the earth is spinning slow
Suns at half mast cause masses ain’t aglow
On bended knee, prostrate before an altered tree
I’ve made the forest suit me
Tables and chairs
Papers and prayers
Matter versus spirit
A metal ladder
A wooden cross
A plastic bottle of water
A mandala encased in glass
A spirit encased in flesh
Sound from shaped hollows
The thickest of mucus released from heightened passion
A man that cries in his sleep
A truth that has gone out of fashion
A mode of expression
A paint splattered wall
A carton of cigarettes
A bouquet of corpses
A dying forest
A nurtured garden
A privatized prison
A candle with a broken wick
A puddle that reflects the sun
A piece of paper with my name on it
I’m surrounded
I surrender
All
All that I am I have been
All I have been has been a long time coming
I am becoming all that I am
The spittle that surrounds the mouth-piece of the flute
Unheard, yet felt
A gathered wetness
A quiet moisture
Sound trapped in a bubble
Released into wind
Wind fellows and land merchants
We are history’s detergent
Water soluble, light particles, articles of cleansing breath
Articles amending death
These words are not tools of communication
They are shards of metal
Dropped from eight story windows
They are waterfalls and gas leaks
Aged thoughts rolled in tobacco leaf
The tools of a trade
Barter’s bard, barb of barters
Catch phrases and misunderstandings
But they are not what I feel when I am alone
Surrounded by everything and nothing
And there isn’t a word or phrase to be caught
A verse to be recited
A mantra to fill my being in those moments
I am blankness, the contained center of an “O”
The pyramidic containment of an “A”
I stand in the middle of all that I have learned
All that I have memorized
All that I’ve known by heart
Unable to reach any of it
There is no sadness
There is no bliss
It is a forgotten memory
A memorable escape route that only is found by not looking
There, in the spine of the dictionary the words are worthless
They are a mere weight pressing against my thoughtlessness
But then, who else can speak of thoughtlessness with such confidence
Who else has learned to sling these ancient ideas
Like dead rats held by their tails
So as not to infect this newly oiled skin
I can think of nothing heavier than an airplane
I can think of no greater conglomerate of steel and metal
I can think of nothing less likely to fly
There are no wings more weighted
I too have felt a heaviness
The stare of man guessing at my being
Yes I am homeless
A homeless man making offerings to the after-future
Sculpting rubber tree forests out of worn tires and shoe soles
A nation unified in exhale
A cloud of smoke
A native pipe ceremony
All the gathered cigarette butts piled in heaps
Snow covered mountains
Lipsticks smeared and shriveled
Offerings to an afterworld
Tattoo guns and plastic wrappers
Broken zippers and dead eyed dolls
It’s all overwhelming me, oak and elming me
I have seeded a forest of myself
Little books from tall trees
It matters not what this paper be made of
Give me notebooks made of human flesh
Dried on steel hooks and nooses
Make uses of use, uses of us
It’s all overwhelming me, oak and elming me
I have seeded a forest of myself
Little books from tall trees
On bended knee
Prostrate before an altered tree
I’ve made the forest suit me
Tables and chairs
Papers and prayers
Matter vs. spirit. Through meditation
I program my heart to beat breakbeats and hum basslines on exhalation

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