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from Swordplay by Baba Brinkman



See now is the time
When freestyles combine
And wild minds connect
To produce miles of rhymes
That wrap a thousand times
Around this ball of twine
Like power-lines
Still the tower climbs
Encircled in spiral vines
As every hour finds
Us closer to cloud nine
It could all turn out fine
In the end like fairytales
Where females marry males
At the end of weary trails
And friends with cherry nails
And grins carry the veils
But the legendary scale
Of it all is very real
With a fear I barely feel
I can clearly reveal
Babel is terribly frail
And threatens to unravel
If the dictionary fails
If we neglect the song
Concealed in the lexicon
And instead press on
In the direction we’ve gone
Headstrong, just pawns
And can’t resist being drawn
Into a festering swamp
Where no one gets along
And the congested throng
Would give its left arm
For a second of calm
Does the question belong
Anywhere in this quest we’re on?
This is the dawn of wordplay
That serves to straight
Purge agitated nerves
And gives words what they deserve
This world is made of words
They were created first
And gave us our naked birth
And kept our place reserved
On the face of this earth
Sacred words taught us
The way it works
From caves in the dirt
They enable us to flirt
With this elevated perch
And make sure that sages lurk
And the pages are versed
‘Til they’re like slaves and serfs
With an insatiable thirst
To rehearse, play with words
Narrate and create mirth
A job with major perks
It’s got my crazy bird
Tryin’ to break the shaman’s curse
I can’t stay in one place and chirp
Stagnation hurts
So when my aches converge
To where I can’t take worse
My legs stir, and there’s
No questioning my path
I get my things and dash
I spread my wings and flap
Nothing can bring me back
The way I think and act
Could be linked to the fact
That I’ve been trapped
My whole life in English class
Where the ink is black
And the paper’s white
So when I sing this rap
That’s the way I take flight
And relinquish the past
Wide awake late at night
On the brink of collapse
Less afraid of stage fright
With every page I write
Ready to grace the mic
With a charismatic presence
And take rap expression
Straight back to its edges
‘Cause it’s fraying at its edges
I’ve been taking magic lessons
Since my days of adolescence
Asking enigmatic questions
And laughing irreverently
At Catholic confessions
But I’m not past lifting
My hands and asking forgiveness
Or learning surrender
I’m having to live with
Fire while burning to cinder
Summer turning to winter
Lumber turning to splinter
Wonder turning to cynicism
Permanent injury
Returning to sender
Earning to spend, we’re
All churning in blenders
Serving currency lenders
Currently interest
Is working against us
Like murderous fingers
Like scorpion pinchers
Holding us with their
Poisonous stingers
Hoisted, sinister
Over us, quivering
Noiseless, dripping
And poised to deliver
Destroying and limiting
Choices like liver
Cirrhosis limits
Enjoyment of liquor
As a boy I was quicker
I think I’m growing thicker
Stoic I slowly wither
And show it; my hope flickers
I know it’s a stark change
But really there’s no difference
When it starts to rain
And the flame starts to wane
Darkness reigns and sharp pains
Plague the heartstrings
Harsh things mingle
And it’s hard to maintain
But the blaze can rekindle
If a single spark remains
Cymbals clang, bells jingle
Simple and plain
Babies age from dimples
Into wrinkles and veins
From the Olympic games symbol
To a limp with a cane
Some begin to complain
‘Cause they think it’s a shame
Every link in the chain
Is made to dwindle and fade
The only way to stay sane
Is to contextualize
Whatever gets to arise
Is standing next to demise
Death moves life
Like breath moves rhymes
And the flesh we use dies
And never gets two tries
So it’s best to utilize
Every blessing in disguise
Respect lies within
And proof testifies
It’s like, unless you reply
You lose; there’s no second prize
So guess to get through
Surprise tests, but choose wise
‘Cause true lies exist
And stress reflects blue light
And celestial skies
So let the moon rise
On the ocean horizon
From the coast to the highest
Mountain, open your eyes and
Don’t be surprised when
Emotion flies out and
Your throat chokes with sighs
And throws your insides out
From this explosion of rhymes
If you’re doped by the sound
And hypnosis arrives
And your soul cries out
Well then you know you’re alive


from Swordplay, released April 20, 2004


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Baba Brinkman New York, New York

Science rapper and inventor of several novel hip-hop variants. Canadian transplant to New York. Pathological optimist.

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