The Sunday Poem: Matthew Brown....Blood Diamond

 

Good morning, Albuquerque! Rich here, rubbing my gasping, exhausted eyes and stepping on my alarm clock and trying to figure out how to make the machine (the machine!) make me some coffee while whole big noisy flocks of roosters fly over my house in morning formation. You heard me. All of that. Listen, it's time for a poem...

 

...I love this poem by Matthew Brown. I love its voicing and technique and wit and sarcasm and anger. I see too little anger in poems, too little fire. I see a lot of sad and upset on the stages in this city but we don't have enough intelligent anger. This poem is certainly a good remedy to that problem. I had the pleasure of seeing Matthew perform this poem onstage about a month or two ago at a slam competition, and he just killed it onstage. Killed it. Which is a good thing. There were bodies in his wake. Here's what Matthew had to say when I asked him what he loved about Albuquerque: “My favorite thing about Albuquerque would definitely have to be the creativity. This city is the Mecca of southwest urban art. The infusion between Mexican, Spanish and Native America culture along the modern feel that our city offers have proved invaluable to my identity as a writer. " Amen to that, Matthew. Rock on.

Blood Diamond

 

So you’re looking for a wedding ring.

Please, let me help you.

A true ring symbolizes undying love.

Timelessness

And the promise of an eternity spent together.

The secret to a perfect marriage is the perfect diamond.

It must be the right size and stature Mr. and Mrs. Smith-

notice how it sparkles.

How it glistens in the display case.

How the bright light is contrasted

by the dark skin of the men who are forced to dig them up at gunpoint.

Gems too hot to handle with bare hands.

We leave the dirty work for the excavators.

We marvel at their labor.

How their spade fingers sift through rubble.

 

They often run into these precious stones

while digging their own graves.

But unlike the ancient Egyptians,

they aren't given the privilege of being buried with the jewels they've unearthed.

 

They call them conflict diamonds.

Siphoned from war zones.

Sparkling kidney stones mined from the belly of the beast.

A row of priceless teeth uprooted from the open maw of Hades himself.

Their history is as rich as the men and woman who could afford to wear them,

and believe me you both look like you can afford to wear them.

Mr. and Mrs. Smith,

death has never been so glamorous.

 

The diamond industry is a million dollar taboo.

We wear genocide around our necks like a fashion statement.

Bedazzle the empty frames of our jewelry

with the mass murder of an entire continent.

Stained glass shards of misery

fastened into wedding rings.

Something pretty to look at.

 

It fits easily on your bedside table

while you sleep soundly at night.

 

So how much money are you really willing to spend

for the biggest rock in the pile?

Mr. and Mrs. Smith,

men as dark as the earth aren't worth their weight in coal,

but the mass of a genocide can turn an African

into a blood diamond.

 

Please, try one on.

 

Feel the weight a century long struggle encased

between carbon fibers of that perfect diamond.

They shine brighter than the futures of the families that are forced to mine them.

Carved from 14 karat kill zones.

Clear enough to see through.

But I promise you,

if you look close enough,

you can see the slaughter marks engraved onto the surface.

These priceless gems are buffed to perfection

under the calloused feet of the men who excavate them.

 

I see you have an eye for sadism.

One you’re willing to spend thousands of dollars on.

So let me assure you

that each stone showcases our best quality

because something so beautiful couldn't exist

without the suffering of thousands.

 

These diamonds are not like other diamonds.

Would they be so exotic

if men didn't die trying to find them?

The value lies in the labor.

In the suffering.

Imagine how many severed hands have held the crown on your wedding ring

before it found its way into your palms.

How the men broil under the blazing African sun

trying to find your happily ever after.

Amidst the rubble

of fallen government,

failed justice system,

and martial law.

 

Their hands are ravenous augers that drill through the earth

Using the exposed bones that stick through their fingertips.

 

So go.

Fill your churches.

Use human confetti to celebrate.

Hear wedding bells of ignorance chime in the background

as he walks you down the aisle.

Drink from goblets made out of the broken skulls of infants.

Exchange your vows over a tombstone.

Go out with a bang!

I’ll make sure you look fantastic while you’re doing it.

Because death has never been so glamorous.

 

So pick a diamond, any diamond.

But no matter which one you choose

I can assure you,

that your hands

will look that much prettier

when you use them

to cover your eyes.

---

Matthew Brown is a young poet born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Though relatively new to slam poetry, he has performed alongside some of Albuquerque’s most seasoned poets, and represented New Mexico two years in a row as a member of the ABQUnidos Poetry Collective at Brave New Voices. Matthew Brown’s poems expose social, racial, and economic inequalities from both a Hispanic and African-American perspective. 

Poetry submissions are welcome.  Email theditchrider@gmail.com.

Local Poetry Event News: Recently, the great Smokin' Slam in Rio Rancho had to end its great run of open mic/slam nights due to the venue's closing down, but out of the ashes of that great series has arisen a new series for folks to check out. The Second Saturday Slam at Cafe Bella in Rio Rancho will have its inaugural night on Saturday, July 13, 2013 from 7 PM to 9 PM and will be co-hosted by Katrina Guarascio and Emily Bjustrom. Folks interested in either reading in the open mic portion of the night or in competing in the slam portion of the night are urged to get there by 6:30 in order to sign-up. Katrina notes that "our slam list will be limited to 6 people and will run head to head style for the first round and then a cut to the top three. There will be a prize for the winner." So, there you go! This event's first feature is the ABQUnidos Slam Team, of which our poet for today, Matthew Brown, is a member. Cafe Bella is located at 2115 Golf Course Rd. SE. #102 in Rio Rancho. For more information about this event, contact Katrina Guarascio at swimmingelephants@gmail.com. For information about the Cafe Bella, call. (505) 306-6974.

 

Views: 233

Comment by Margaret Randall on June 23, 2013 at 8:25am

I agree, Rich, that anger trumps sad any time. But anger isn't enough, either, unless the poem itself works. This one does, with its powerful metaphors that link exploitation and the demand that feeds it. I am reminded of an early Alice Walker poem on the same subject, although Alice's is much shorter.

Comment by Dee Cohen on June 23, 2013 at 9:51am

Sounds good live too. Thanks, Dee

Comment by Johnny_Mango on June 23, 2013 at 10:05am

Excellent piece Matthew!  The disconnect between the cultural symbolism of diamonds and the actual suffering that accompanies their production continues to amaze.  Big diamonds, big weddings, big homes, big bunch of nada.  Good poem...thanks Rich!

Comment by Katrina K Guarascio on June 23, 2013 at 11:55am
Comment by Rich Boucher on June 23, 2013 at 12:15pm

Margaret, thank you for reading this and for your comment! Do you recall the name of the Alice Walker poem?

Comment by Rich Boucher on June 23, 2013 at 12:16pm

Dee, thank you for reading this and yes, this is such a powerhouse poem live. I remembered being floored by it when I first saw Matthew perform this.

Comment by Rich Boucher on June 23, 2013 at 12:17pm

Katrina, thanks for reading this, and for the link! I hope word gets out about this and that you have a great number in attendance for the first Second Saturday Slam at Cafe Bella!

Comment by Rich Boucher on June 23, 2013 at 12:18pm

Johnny, you're welcome and thanks for checking this out!

Comment by Margaret Randall on June 23, 2013 at 2:08pm

Rich, the Alice Walker poem is "The Diamonds on Liz's Bosom" and it's from her book Horses Make a Landscape Look More Beautiful. Check it out.

Comment by Izquierdo on June 23, 2013 at 4:49pm

Well done. I can't wait for the sequel on Nike.

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