Poetry Corner: Dasan Ahanu, 'Brown Bag Daddy'

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Dasan Ahanu reads his poem Brown Bag Daddy.

ED GORDON, host:

Now it's time for our Poet's Moment.


My name is Dasan Ahanu, and this is my poem, "Brown Bag Daddy(ph)."

My father kept his whole life in a brown bag, squeezed tight at the top to hold dreams in, held up to his mouth to drown his sorrow or wash away his pain, facing everyday full of liquid courage and kept his potential in a brown bag. Sin laughed on neighborhood street corners, wisdom spoken in slurred speech, young eyes learned way too early that nobody beats the bull; $3 for ice cream from the ice cream shop; $2 for a Schlitz malt liquor bull from the corner store; $5 from a battered and withered wallet; 20 minutes spent between father and son that's priceless because a working man works for a living, and his living was in that brown bag; not in child support payments, school clothes or school supplies, no Little League refreshments, basketball shoes or football cleats, no roses on Valentine's Day; only Wild Irish because a mad dog sees street lights with 20/20 vision, trapped in a Boone's Farm; 40 acres and a mule is 40 ounces and a jackass, pissing away his life, love and child's admiration; in part, Bushes(ph) talking trash as time ticks, and he's hung over like necks hung from nooses.

His spirit is dying. Tomorrow is dying. His liver is dying. His mother is crying. His son is crying. Optimism is hopeless. No half-empty or half-full, he only sees the world in pints and fifths, so don't tell me about happiness and sadness. Don't tell me about heartache and pain and ups and down until you've seen your happiness go with the bottom of a bottle and come with every open top. Don't tell me about obsession until you wake up one morning and realize you can't stop; when sobriety is worse than insanity and every day is better straight up, no chaser; when your melanin is corrupted by wheat and barley; when your first love hardly recognizes you anymore and your son grows under your nose.

I wrote the poem "Brown Bag Daddy" sort of to get rid of some feelings that I have for my father, and my father had me at a young age. He was 17, my mother was 16, and has been an alcoholic for many years, and I struggled with trying to deal with that for a while and trying to get him to understand how bad it was for his health, and this poem kind of documents what I knew from when he was young and how he got started on this path all the way, and the poem ends with his death, sort of to try and let him know what will happen if he keeps down the path, and I actually wrote it just to perform in front of him, and it became such a powerful piece for me that I share it with a lot of other people now.

GORDON: Poet and spoken word artist Dasan Ahanu reading his poem, "Brown Bag Daddy." Dasan also teaches at the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University. A CD collection of his work titled "Dilemma"(ph) will be available this summer.

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