Goodbye to the Porkpie Hat

Goodbye to the Porkpie Hat


ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes



Cross riffing square kingdoms, riding midnight Scottsboro

trains. We are haunted by the lynched limbs.



Books by Larry Neal


Black Fire  / Hoodoo Hollerin Bebop Ghosts / Visions of a Liberated Future


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Don’t Say Goodbye to the Porkpie Hat

               Mingus, Bird, Prez, Langston, and them

By Larry Neal



Don’t say goodbye to the Porkpie Hat

that rolled along on padded shoulders

                       that swang bebop phrases

                       in Minton’s jelly roll dreams

Don’t say goodbye to hip hats tilted in the style of a soulful


the Porkpie Hat that Lester dug

swirling in the sound of sax blown suns


                       phrase on phrase, repeating bluely

                       tripping in an under crashing

                       hi-hat cymbals, a fickle girl

                       getting sassy on the rhythms.

Musicians heavy with memories

move in and out of this gloom;

the Porkpie Hat reigns supreme

smell of collard greens

and cotton madness

commingled in the nigger elegance of the style.

                       The Porkpie Hat sees tonal memories

                       of salt peanuts and hot house birds

                       the Porkpie Hat sees . . .

Cross riffing square kingdoms, riding midnight Scottsboro

trains. We are haunted by the lynched limbs.

On the road:

It would be some hoodoo town

It would be some cracker place

you might meet redneck lynchers

face to face

but mostly you meet mean horn blowers

running obscene riffs

Jelly Roll spoke of such places:

the man with the mojo hand

the dyke with the .38

the yaller girls

and the knifings.

Stop-time Buddy and Creole Sydney

wailed in here. Stop time.

chorus repeats, stop and shuffle.

stop and stomp.

listen to the horns, ain’t they mean?

now ain’t they mean

in blue

in blue

in blue streaks of mellow wisdom

blue notes

coiling around

the Porkpie Hat

and ghosts of dead musicians drifting through

here on riffs that smack

of one-leg trumpet players

and daddy glory piano ticklers


twisted arpeggios

with diamond-flashed fingers.

There was Jelly Roll Morton, the sweet mackdaddy,

hollering Waller, and Willie The Lion Smith—

some mean showstoppers.


Ghosts of dead holy rollers ricocheted in the air funky

with white lightnin’ and sweat.

Emerald bitches shot shit in a kitchen smelling

of funerals and fried chicken.

Each city had a different sound:

there was Mambo, Rhega, Jeanne;

holy the voice of the righteous sisters.


Shape to shape, horn to horn

the Porkpie Hat resurrected himself

night to night, from note to note

skimming the horizons, flashing bluegreenyellow lights

and blowing black stars

and wierd looneymoon changes; chords coiled about him

and he was flying





into cosmic silences

And yes

and caresses flowed from the voice in the horn in the blue

of the yellow whiskey room where bad hustlers with big

coats moved, digging the fly sister, fingerpopping while

tearing at chicken and waffles.


The Porkpie Hat loomed specter like, a vision for the world;

shiny, the knob toe shoes,

sporting hip camel coats

and righteous pin stripes—

pants pressed razor shape;

and caressing his horn, baby like.


So we pick up our axes and prepare

to blast the white dream;

we pick up our axes

re-create ourselves and the universe,

sounds splintering the deepest regions

of spiritual space

crisp and moaning voices

leaping in the horns of destruction,

blowing death and doom to all who have no use for the 



So we cook out of sight

into cascading motions of joy delight

shooflies the Bird lolligagging

and laughing for days,

and the rhythms way up in there

wailing, sending scarlet rays, luminescent,

spattering bone and lie.

we go on cool lords

wailing on into star nights,

rocking whole worlds, unfurling song on song

into long stretches of green spectral shimmerings,

blasting on, fucking the moon with the blunt edge

of a lover’s tune, out there now, joy rifting

for days and do

railriding and do

talking some lovely shit and do

to the Blues God who blesses us.


No, don’t say goodbye to the Porkpie Hat—

he lives, oh yes.


Lester lives and leaps

Delancy’s dilemma is over

Bird lives

Lady lives

Eric stands next to me

while I finger the Afro-horn

Bird lives

Lady lives

Lester leaps in every night

Tad’s delight

is mine now

Dinah knows

Richie knows

that Bud is Buddha

that Jelly Roll dug juju

and Lester lives

in Ornett’s leapings

the Blues God lives

we live


spirit lives

and sound lives

bluebird lives

lives and leaps

dig the mellow voices

dig the Porkpie Hat

dig the spirit in Sun Ra’s sound

dig the cosmic Trane

dig be 

dig be

dig be

spirit lives in sound

dig be

sound lives in spirit

dig be


spirit lives

spirit lives

spirit lives




take it again

this time from the top


*   *   *   *   *’s 25 Best Selling Books

For July 1st through August 31st 2011  


#1 – Justify My Thug by Wahida Clark #2 – Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree #3 – Head Bangers: An APF Sexcapade by Zane #4 – Life Is Short But Wide by J. California Cooper #5 – Stackin’ Paper 2 Genesis’ Payback by Joy King #6 – Thug Lovin’ (Thug 4) by Wahida Clark #7 – When I Get Where I’m Going by Cheryl Robinson #8 – Casting the First Stone by Kimberla Lawson Roby #9 – The Sex Chronicles: Shattering the Myth by Zane

#10 – Covenant: A Thriller  by Brandon Massey

#11 – Diary Of A Street Diva  by Ashley and JaQuavis

#12 – Don’t Ever Tell  by Brandon Massey

#13 – For colored girls who have considered suicide  by Ntozake Shange

#14 – For the Love of Money : A Novel by Omar Tyree

#15 – Homemade Loves  by J. California Cooper

#16 – The Future Has a Past: Stories by J. California Cooper

#17 – Player Haters by Carl Weber

#18 – Purple Panties: An Anthology by Sidney Molare

#19 – Stackin’ Paper by Joy King

#20 – Children of the Street: An Inspector Darko Dawson Mystery by Kwei Quartey

#21 – The Upper Room by Mary Monroe

#22 – Thug Matrimony  by Wahida Clark

#23 – Thugs And The Women Who Love Them by Wahida Clark

#24 – Married Men by Carl Weber

#25 – I Dreamt I Was in Heaven – The Rampage of the Rufus Buck Gang by Leonce Gaiter


#1 – Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable #2 – Confessions of a Video Vixen by Karrine Steffans #3 – Dear G-Spot: Straight Talk About Sex and Love by Zane #4 – Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny by Hill Harper #5 – Peace from Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What You’re Going Through by Iyanla Vanzant #6 – Selected Writings and Speeches of Marcus Garvey by Marcus Garvey #7 – The Ebony Cookbook: A Date with a Dish by Freda DeKnight #8 – The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing #9 – The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter Godwin Woodson

#10 – John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History  by Ahati N. N. Toure

#11 – Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure by Tavis Smiley

#12 –The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

#13 – The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell

#14 – The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore

#15 – Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can’t Commit  by RM Johnson

#16 – Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins

#17 – Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell

#18 – A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle

#19 – John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard

#20 – Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris

#21 – Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife by Carleen Brice

#22 – 2012 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino #23 – Chicken Soup for the Prisoner’s Soul by Tom Lagana #24 – 101 Things Every Boy/Young Man of Color Should Know by LaMarr Darnell Shields

#25 – Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class  by Lisa B. Thompson

*   *   *   *   *

Visions of a Liberated Future

Black Arts Movement Writings

By Larry Neal

“What we have been trying to arrive at is some kind of synthesis of the writer’s function as an oppressed individual and a creative artist,” states Neal (1937-1981), a writer, editor, educator and activist prominent in the Black Arts movement of the 1960s and ’70s. Articulate, highly charged essays about the black experience examine the views of his predecessors–musicians and political theorists as well as writers–continually weighing artistic achievement against political efficacy. While the essays do not exclude any readers, Neal’s drama, poetry and fiction are more limited in their form of address, more explicitly directed to the oppressed. The poems are particularly intense in their protest: “How many of them / . . . have been made to /prostitute their blood / to the merchants of war.” Rhythmic and adopting the repetitive structure of music, they capture the “blues in our mothers’ voices / which warned us / blues people bursting out.” Commentaries by Neal’s peers, Amiri Baraka, Stanley Crouch, Charles Fuller and Jayne Cortez, introduce the various sections.—Publishers Weekly

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Finding Aid for Larry Neal papers, 1961-1985

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The Black Arts MovementLiterary Nationalism in the 1960s and 1970s

By James Edward Smethurst 

Emerging from a matrix of Old Left, black nationalist, and bohemian ideologies and institutions, African American artists and intellectuals in the 1960s coalesced to form the Black Arts Movement, the cultural wing of the Black Power Movement. In this comprehensive analysis, James Smethurst examines the formation of the Black Arts Movement and demonstrates how it deeply influenced the production and reception of literature and art in the United States through its negotiations of the ideological climate of the Cold War, decolonization, and the civil rights movement.

Taking a regional approach, Smethurst examines local expressions of the nascent Black Arts Movement, a movement distinctive in its geographical reach and diversity, while always keeping the frame of the larger movement in view. The Black Arts Movement, he argues, fundamentally changed American attitudes about the relationship between popular culture and “high” art and dramatically transformed the landscape of public funding for the arts.—Publisher, University of North Carolina Press

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

*   *   *   *   *

Ancient African Nations

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*   *   *   *   *

The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery /

George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

*   *   *   *   *

The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 — The Founding of Haiti 

*   *   *   *   *


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posted 4 November 2007 




Home  Askia M. Toure Table  Amiri Baraka Table  Black Arts and Black Power Figures

Related Files:  Neal Interview in Omowe   Larry Neal Chronology  The Black Arts Movement  (Larry Neal)  “Don’t Say Goodbye to the Pork Pie Hat  Larry Neal Bio  Sonnets for Larry Neal

  Larry Neal Speaks  Black Fire: An Anthology of Afro-American Writing  

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