the louderARTS Project

Mara Jebsen

Mara Michael Jebsen is a poet/vocalist raised in Philadelphia and in Togo, West Africa. Her approach to spoken word poetry is a unique blend of melodies, speech and rhythmic play which communicate image-laden narratives that call to mind both of her childhood stomping grounds. In 1998, she joined the founders of the Blue Roach, a Duke University spoken word artistās collective/venue, famous in the South for bringing nationally known poets such as Asha Bandale, Sekou Sundiata, Ntozake Shange and Carl Hancock Rux to North Carolina. She has written multiple poetry/theatre pieces performed with Modern and African dance ensembles before large audiences of both children and adults. She has also held feature and spotlight performances at The Blue Roach, The Nuyorican Poet's Café, WestSide Rhyme @ the Bowery Poetry Club, and 13 Bar/Lounge. Mara has performed at benefit concerts and cultural festivals for New York University, Georgetown University, Duke University and the University of North Carolina. In 1999, she competed in the Cantab Lounge Boston Poetry Slam Semi-Finals.

At present, Mara is completing a CD project that embraces both her lyrical & writing talents, and preparing to pursue her Poetry MFA at NYU's acclaimed Creative Writing Program.

marajebsen@yahoo.com




Mamadou's Second Wife

When she sings it's like she'll breathe you
The air in the village

She can breathe you onto
The inside of an image

Earthy and heavy-wet like
Inside clay water pots

Elders under a triangle of sacred trees
Sifting the breeze with thier old man's knees
Spilling palm wine; shifting the fold and line
Of thier bright bubus, saying
"What can we do? Eh? What can We do?"

Mamadou's second wife cooks to save her status.

She makes the sky shake, sweats hot pepper tears
Hears hot pepper cries come screaming from her eyes
And her heart beats quick, like the wings of flies
As she flicks her fire-fan above the coal-pot-
The skies boil angry; she has made that stew too-hot
Overtop the smoke, her song carries
Her Song Carries.

I hear its echo from the balcony of my bungalow;
I glow off aqua-blue walls and iron-wrought windows
I hear the endless scrawny rooster crow
The big ladies battle to let each other know'
Mai Mava Obanalo
Mai Mava Obanalo

Live life hard; Live life slow
In dirt and green and red like mango.

She said. "AGO! Move OUT. Let me through!"
Mamadou's second wife carried hot peanut stew.
Called her daughter Adjo-come and collect the plates.
Mamadou brought his stick for the meal was late;
and his wife, Akoko, was hungry and so
Mamadou's second wife took an extra blow.

The elders stood by and shook thier heads.
But still she sang, and Her Song Carried.

Somewhere deep in the bottom of my skull,
It got mixed up with the engine's lull
Of a that tinfoil taxi that took me to class-
fool taximan always tryna pinch my ass,
And marry me...us, we'd be happy....
Dancing down de street of de white man plenty, him and
Me.....

Also his sister, brother, grandmother and Tanti.
I ask him please to hush, I am searching now to
find...
There is a village wailing in the back of my mind.

Bone to veranda, coke bottle in my hand,
I sat studying for my physics exam, with
African stars telling stories in the skies
when a whiff of hot pepper come screaming in my eyes.

The coke bottle shook from the funeral shots.
My heart shook too. she had made that stew
Too hot.

Mamadou's second widow sells candies at my corner.
Exiled in fire, but strong as ever.
She says Move Out, she says AGO!
She lives life hard; she lives life slow
In dirt and green and red, like mango.

But still she sings, and

Her Song Carries.
Her Song
Carries.



© Mara Jebsen



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