Amplify: Something in the Way: A discussion of Amiri Baraka’s ‘Something in the Way of Things (In Town)’

*UPDATE: Now with video!*



Knows me? You knows Amiri Baraka is the grounding voice. Fascination. inspiration. Baraka’s work shows the way forward—we so often lose the way. Freedom.

“The real problem is you don’t know the real problem.” Remind us: Keep peeled.

A great podcast was released sometime: William J. Harris, Tyrone Williams, and Aldon Nielsen join Al Filreis (always generous) to discuss Baraka’s “Something in the Way of Things.”

I’m delighted Filreis chose to play the version of the poem from the Roots’ 2002 album “Phrenology”. The album—I bought it from the Staten Island Mall on day one—was essential in showing this young introverted weirdo that his suspicions about people being easily defined was specious—contrary to everything my small island peers had suggested. Punk. Rap. Poetry. R&B. Soul. Sound collage. Techno. Profoundly compelling instrumentation. Music as preparation. As runway.

Hard to conceive I first heard Amiri Baraka’s words 16 years ago.

Anyway, the podcast discussion is accessible and criminally brief.

After I listened to it, I was sent back to my bookshelves to hunt down a collection of Baraka’s work from 2014—the year he died—SOS.  The hardcover version of the work collects some of the poet’s final poems. That’s how I’ll be spending my night.

I had to share it with all of you in hopes you might share it as well. Be well.


For further study:

all the notes from tonight



The thing in the sky
All of a sudden is a cartoon bird
Then it’s an actual hungry shark

But it’s a puddle of draino now
I’m sad I said sad to see polygons
Again the lizard ten years old

Then chemo
Is a seahorse
Then it’s a chicken

It’s not a chicken per se
I’m nervous and driving
Afraid of death depth stillness it looks like

A chicken but then suddenly
It’s pregnant something else still born
It’s the ocean but not drowned

A seahorse hot
A shark it’s not a
Chicken it’s a rotten cartoon it’s

Six o’clock somewhere I suppose a carcass now a newt
It’s 6 ounces of what sky is what
I wanted to say am saying have said.

Wikipedia Poem, No. 285


“it’s christmas, carnival, easter, / our lady of aparecida, and the final judgment / all at once.” from “microwave” by Angélica Freitas

offers deeper 

absorbed in 
building the redeemer volume 
       of measuring noise 


       product displays 

  on audibility 
a signal bellows reverberation 

      coefficient of 
20 degrees celsius displayed depending on
      the averagings are proportant to dement reverberation 

in me and 
       out of the room for a direct 
travelling of a defined cut offers no reflection coefficient

exponential so too the materials the terrestrials

        of absorption 

in studios diminish 
regularly at low frequencies 
which must have their opposites

Wikipedia Poem, No. 265


“Vex thyself not through all thy wanderings, / through all thy vagrant course from land to land / Vex thyself not, if but there be to hand / A hut, a fire for warmth, and simple things / For food—a cake, kneaded from trough of stone / Relished with mint or thyme, or salt alone.” Leonidas


prefer to discuss who disgusts
one avoid this phrase as a mewet
on the gibbous moon of dry ink

distinction as plosive implies third eye
and creative nasal cones deflect áphōnon
one avoids this phrase altogether in order to prefer

one must not call an unreleased burst plosive
through sounds inaccurate one doesn’t know where one
comes from nor does one particularly matter



Source: Dudley, Donald R. “A History of Cynicism from Diogenes to the 6th Century A.D.” London: Methuen, 1937. Print. Page 115.

wikipedia poem, no. 24


          the explicit camphor find it two notes a major 
      third interval
then the cuckoo i know the unfading 
green camphor when i hear it do you

      notes a major 
interval and then the idea of an owl 
juxtaposed by the 
cuckoo the meantime the shuttering engine

	it all adds up to a subtle push
you had pushed the owl did 
          not I said but in the unfading 
      camphor      the kei engine
third interval 
some naming the cuckoo the unfading green camphor 
two knots I 
said becomes three and so on but in the definite article of the owl 
he/I did note a major third interval

note it

cuckoo the owl 
      did note a 
  major third interval   and spring 
the cuckoo 
      the owl was not I 
         but in the unfading green camphor        bang bang
two notes a major third 
      The cuckoo you who
the owl notes a definite 
          major third

After Eugenio Montale’s “Sul Llobregat

untitled, 092920121223

it’s not enough to be
clever; each little sound byte
performance padded; deeper philosophies
cold, carrying scaly sustenance; what is
a poem
if not a poem; a hard
tea-thin blade dimpling the pink
precious flesh of yr mother’s throat

oh to bring her back; oh
to save her;

a poem —