Infinitude: inside the poem [poem discussion]

Discussion with Poet Tshombe Sekou regarding his poem: “Infinitudes” 

available for reading at 


Discussion facilitated by poet Lana Joseph:


Session began at 12:56 PM on Sunday 06 May 2012, local Japan  


LJ:  I’m here (SMILES)


Tshombe Sekou:  ah ha! Blessings and light to you.


LJ:  To begin with … I appreciate you immensely for wanting my thoughts on your work… blessings love and light to you too!


Tshombe Sekou:  I know that you are serious about your work and that means that you will be the same with anyone else’s work. 


Amiri Baraka stated once…


“…if you want to know the truth about your poetry, ask someone who is equally as serious about their work or ask a complete stranger.”


 LJ:  That is indeed a powerful statement & I am in total agreement with that assessment. Thank you!


And thank you for your acknowledgement. 


Yes… I value our gift and I have a few notes about some things that I was hoping to reach a bit of clarity on…


Tshombe Sekou:  then I am prepared to address them…


LJ:  So with that being said, let’s dig in! 


LJ:  THE FIRST NOTE:  The word “They” in your first stanza… gave me pause. The reason for the pause is that I felt as though you had already given power and immediate ownership to those who are considered “They” as opposed to using the word “Some”


Tshombe Sekou:  I chose it as an antecedent pronoun; it refers to those before me (souls); “Some” is sort of segregated to just anyone.


LJ:  I see… I’m clear now.


LJ:  SECOND NOTE: Fantastic metaphors!!! I Love the Jazz concept… Poetic Brilliance… and how the way the stanza makes your reader feel…


   My mind would drift on Tranes for Miles…

   Ra in the meadows of blue’s 

   Pyramid sand dunes

   against sunflowers and moon trees

   infused with the quintessence of purpose.


LJ:  Tranes for Miles… clarity in Tranes, is that an aesthetic decision to make it plural?


Tshombe Sekou:  (LAUGHS), yes that stanza was one of my favorites to construct, especially since jazz has been the cornerstone of my development…I wanted the reader to take a trip with that one.  

Trane (John Coltrane) for Miles (Davis); yes, I extended a poetic license at pluralizing “Trane” for context of auditory rhythm.


LJ:  (SMILES) I see…


How about “would cats be like “Yo’ I’ll sell you mine” is the “yo’ ” a typo or an aesthetic choice as well?


 Tshombe Sekou:  I chose the urban vernacular to give it a more concrete, yet definitive of the environment that surrounded me and the sense of alienation by expressed language.


LJ:  Yes… I love the language it works well.


searching for new time in new bio-vehicles

trading bodies like cats trading in rides

would cats be like “Yo! I’ll sell you mine

because I’m low on cash;

I can’t afford to occupy

because the mortgage is too damn high.




Tshombe Sekou:  Yes!  That part was really to connect with the audience with something real familiar while we are “making-believe”; the tether back to reality or fantasy, depending on which you choose is real or make-believe.


LJ:  Awesome!


Tshombe Sekou: I actually leave some imperfections in my poems, it keeps me grounded, and it also gives some people a reason to judge.  That gives me the sense they read something in my works, kind of the “can you find the error?” challenge, if you will. I am a puzzle maker when it comes to a lot of my work.


LJ:  I believe that, I too leave some imperfection in my work as my own aesthetic decision, as we are perfectly imperfect, God’s choice; he gave us our gift.


Tshombe Sekou:  yes, it keeps the arrogance at bay!


 LJ:  Indeed!


In Addition, I realized that ‘time and space’ was repetitive… yet placed where they worked well…


Tshombe Sekou:  Time and Space is the whole context to being here before…it is the infinitude.


LJ:  I love the way you made the reader see and feel the connection of being here before…The transition here:


and maybe its what gives context

to the illogical,

love at first sight.”


Brilliant! Has so much merit… well… the entire piece does…


Tshombe Sekou:  Thank you! That was such an important shift or bridge for me in writing this piece, especially since what generally rest at the center of our existence is love; the most complex simplicity and misunderstood subject of our life.


How do we explain, “love at first sight” unless it is something we once new, we recognize it! ; If we were to break that down, it means we re~ (do again) cognize (call to memory or think) love.  Meaning it was here before.


LJ:  Indeed!!! It makes sense whether a person would like to believe in it or not. 


Tshombe Sekou:  Hence I ask that we “make-believe”


LJ:  (SMILES) I love that too! 


When I read that entire stanza, I felt the depth and height in which you soared, actually throughout this entire work of art; I too LOVE JAZZ therefore the connection was at the forefront.


The references were even rhythmic!!!!


Tshombe Sekou:  In poetry, I believe we should be so bold as to challenge the sense and thinking of readers; we have a captured mind so let’s do something with it…you feel what I’m saying?


 LJ:  Yesssssssssssssssss I LOVE it and strive for that as well.


My spirit was uplifted because I connected so well to so much of it. It is always incredible when a poet/writer/author can come along and put into words the ideals that are fixed in your own mind, but not written yet; with this work of art you’ve done that…


Tshombe Sekou:  Ha!  I know exactly what you Mean, especially since I read more poetry than I write; it’s like at times I want to say “what, I was thinking that years ago and never wrote it.  They beat me to it!”



…since it’s all energy

it will return to us in reciprocity

as water to the ocean.


this could be poetic philosophy

          even prophecy…





Tshombe Sekou:  Yes, that was a bit of a wild section and wasn’t quite sure it would work for the reader, but then I remembered that Miles Davis said once, “don’t play what’s there, play what’s not there!” so I stepped out with it.


LJ:  Yes… (SMILES) And I too READ more than I write as well. I LOVE IT! Which is another reason why I LOVE your work. I Love scribes that not only move me spiritually, but also, moves me to a level of high minded philosophy, which you always you do for me in your poetry.


I’m glad that you stepped out there… The reader might not make the connection right away, but if he or she READS YOU—and I do mean READ from the soul; it will become clear, if not, well that is sometimes the risk we take when we step out there.


Tshombe Sekou:  true indeed, we offer an opportunity to the audiences to see who we are in all of the brave-vulnerability of our expressions; there is always the chance that many will not fully understand and few who will.  This is the life of a poet, and those who fail at grasping the idea that every expression will either miss or hit the mark will fail at transcending into higher levels of art.


LJ:  Then you break everything down regarding poetry as you see it to be… I love the way you make it very clear that you are not trying to change their beliefs…


Tshombe Sekou:  Well, I am a firm believer that poets, much like the ancient writers who wrote the beautiful poetics of the scriptures, will define the context of the future; almost as if we are writing what they will come to believe.  We are writing their beliefs, their definition of “now”, we will be “making them believe”.  This is why I find it so important to develop and be bold in challenging our scripts because someday someone will use them to govern thought and beliefs just as we have with the Holy Books.


LJ:  Yes! I remember that Walter Mosley once said:

Of all writing, the discipline in poetry is the most demanding. You have to learn how to distill what you mean into the most economic and at the same time the most elegant and accurate language. A poet must be the master of the simile, metaphor, and form, and of the precise use of vernacular and grammar, implication and innuendo. The poet has to be able to create symbols that are muted and yet undeniable. The poet, above all other writers, must know how to edit out the extraneous, received, repetitious, and misleading. A poet will ask herself, ‘Why did I use that word, and how will that usage affect meaning later in the poem when the same word is used again? A similar word?’


Tshombe Sekou:  Absolutely!


LJ:  I look forward to rereading your Exquisite Scribe, and I have a feeling that it will be read over and over…hundreds and hundreds of years from now, and discussed even more; even used in literary classrooms. By that time your little baby princess Nina Kai will say, “My Daddy wrote that!” I can see her beautiful bright angelic smile with so much pride and honor (humbly) in her sweet voice.


Tshombe Sekou:  (LAUGHS), I think you’re right!


She has been a great source of inspiration, as she has an “old, been here before” way about her already.


LJ:   I appreciate you more than I can express. That is all I had to go over with you and I graciously thank you once again for allowing me the opportunity. Thank you for the honor to give my thoughts, and get clarity on those few areas; I feel honored and deeply humbled. 


Blessings to you and your beautiful wife and princess Nina Kai.


Tshombe Sekou:  Thank you for the time dear one, it is always a great thing to give and seek clarity; I have learned much in this dialogue and give a huge thanks to you for the time and consideration.  It is I who is humbled by the inquiry and courage to challenge understanding; this is what being a poet is about: learning.  Writing the poems are only half of the equation, learning and discussing them is the other half; it gives them longevity. 


Tshombe Sekou:  be in peace and love, Tshombe.



Will do dearest one… Thank you!


Discussion ended at 2:28 PM on Sunday 06 May 6, 2012 local.