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JUNE 19, 2008
© Amir Bey, 2007
Reginald Lockett as he began to read at Cornelia Street Cafe last September in New York City.



Reginald Lockett, a master of the spoken word who some called The Poet Laureate of Oakland, passed away this May 15 of a heart attack. He is remembered as a supportive, loving artist and educator who gave inspiration to those he came in contact with. I met him during a reading at The Cornelia Street Café in New York City last September, where he was a guest of Golda Solomon’s Po Jazz Series. His poetry was enriched by a persona endowed with a sense of humor and obvious love of people. We had a conversation about education and the need for teachers and institutions to be sensitive to their students, and how the system often fails in that regard. He was a believer in the power of education to create opportunities for people, or, if "education" was negatively applied by institutional negligence, it had the power to destroy. The following poem, HOMEBOY ADRIFT IN PARIS is an example of how he often referenced his native Oakland, California in much of his work, as well as his creation and use of colorful characters, some of them real. To view a video of his reading at The Cornelia Street Café last September, please visit click on the video above. In the video, he’s reading two excerpts from his most recently published work, Random History Lessons. For some computers it may take a few minutes to load; or using a different browser may help.<

Homeboy Adrift in Paris
A denizen of the late night parties,
he's on the scene at the Sunset
in Jardin de Lombard every
night drinking whatever it is
he drinks, drunk as a skunk,
standing at the bar
talking trash about nothing
in particular. Paris is
a long way from West Oakland
in miles and vibes, that's
for sure. And standing there
with me at the bar in that
smoke filled club,
he recalls the smell and taste
of tamales sold on every corner
up and down 7th Street,
Peralta, 18th and Market,
Adeline, or San Pablo,
living across the street
from the Pointer Sisters, his mama
ordering Saturday night dinner
from Moon's Chinese Kitchen,
gigging in Martha Young's
band--a concert here, a gig there,
a recording session somewhere
else from noon until
six the next morning
only to get up and do
it all over again. But Martha,
Prez's niece, died,
and that was that, and he's been all over
Europe playing music,
drinking good liquor,
chasing the dollar, women,
and dreams that'll
never come true.

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