MAP #155-1 Theme: Mistress of Heritage House

1. passing through by Cheryl Latif

history speaks its sorrow and strife

along southern country lanes, now paved,

lined with clapboard houses and

gardens of wild corn.

dogs laze in summer sun,

bark at passing strangers.

nestled in the shadow of austin's skyline

one corner house, wood-sided, porched,

arching crepe myrtle shading the yard,

stands testament to tradition tempered

by changing times.

art fills the air like morning's aroma of

cinnamon rolls, hot and sticky from the oven,

coffee percolating on the counter.

art is the heritage of this house,

resounds in the grain of its rich wooden floors,

midnight sighs of shifting foundation.

love is the prayer of this place,

where strong boughs shelter from heat,

crickets speak late at night,

and long before dawn a woman rises

to mix flour and water, get coffee brewing,

see to the art of welcoming strangers

who cease being so once they pass through her doors.

© C. Latif 25 Oct 00

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2. Bennedene Smile by Ivan Miller

I saw a light at Heritage House

and she smiled like a great Goddess in the night

making music in an atmosphere

of poetic clouds

and all the poets danced

to her spirit always reaching and teaching

us to be like that smile

that could warm hardened hearts and the bad day blues

as the whole world wishes there were more smiles

like her, like love, like Bennedene

© 2000 Ivan Miller

3. A Prologue by Faraji Salim

One of the very first things that I noticed about the Heritage House upon my first stay was its close proximity to the Texas State Capital Building and the Governor's House. I found it somewhat amusing that literally miles away from the chaos that George Bush was creating, rested a house that was filled with love, soul, and art. It is ironic indeed that The Heritage House sits in the valley of the Texas Capital Building-In The Heritage Valley of Bush. Once again reaffirming the old southern parable that, "the fruit is much sweeter in the valley than the fruit from the tip of its mountain."

With love and gratitude, this poem is dedicated to Bennedene Walton and The Heritage House family in beautiful and eclectic city of Austin, Texas

In The Heritage Valley of The Bush

Nestled in the valley of the King George's mountain

is where you'll find her

In the Valley of the Bush

While his justice is swift and unmerciful,

Hers is a heritage

That denies the King's mentality

That aligns with all of humanity

Upon leaving King George's mountain,

The pain of persecution is pushed aside

By the elation of love

Emanating from the leaves of "Bushes"

Throughout her very own Heritage Valley

The Bushes in Heritage Valley so majestically

Frame the path of the House that her love built.

Standing tall as the Sentry of her Valley

Guarding their queen, and her castle from

King George's spies faithfully

The Bushes in Heritage Valley sing of the justice

That longs to scream from the mouths of King George's Bushes

Standing feebly as the Sentry of his stupidity

Guarding their king, and his mentality from humanity's reality

While perched mountain high obliviously

For in the Valley of the Bush

Things are planted in ground that is rich in Heritage.

They chose to Surround the house that

Denies the King's mentality

That aligns with the beauty of humanity

If only our king

Would visit his own valley

Perhaps we all could be free.

© 2000 Faraji Salim

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4. Divine Mistress

Homage to Bennedene Walton by Jarry Jaffe

A woman walks

on water

calls herself friend

she interrupts her life

to honor others

with space

for contemplation

and sustenance for

creative minds.

Heritage House

opens minds and hearts

a spiritual cavalcade

like old time revivals

of spoken word raining down

on celebrants

like Marvin, Floyd

Stazja and the list goes on…

Bennedene Walton

takes us into her life

her heart

her spirit

and we

make ourselves

at home.

© 2000 lgjaffe

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5. For Bennedene: Mistress of the Heritage House by Marvin G. Kimbrough

Up the concrete steps at 810 East Thirteenth Steet

On the east side of Highway I-35

Beyond the loquat tree, past the century-old oak

To the pale pink, double-story house

Where poets and peasants, professors and prophets

Sway on the old wooden swing and sip raspberry tea

And sample southern tea cakes baked by Bennedene

Where children and dogs race around the perimeter of the house

Playing games that only children and dogs can play together

And where the Austin sun is less hot as the breeze meanders

Through the trees at the pink house

Yes, this is the pink house that spawned the anthology Heritage Blue

That poetry place for both slam poets and sonneteers

That poetry place for neophytes and laureates

That domicile of queen Bennedene, who with Victorian elegance

Mingled with vision and strength of the twenty-first century

Braids the rope that holds together the heritage and dreams

That keep alive the memory of the black college Samuel Huston

Where its president J.W. Frazier and wife Laura

Lived in the year of 1916 and served as surrogate parents of

First generation ebony-hued college coeds

The house where later, Alli Aweusi lived and beat African Drums

And hawked poetry about black power and liberation and read his own

Poems about "Bag Ladies of the World"

And where Ivan Miller is now heard hosting his venue Inner Circle of Spoken Word

And where the Austin International Poetry Festival invites global bards and poetry

buffs

And where Stazja and Larry and Marla and Moshe and Pat and Jan and Cheryl

And Carl and Heidi and Tammy and Marvin and Floyd and Taalam and Faraji

And B.S. and Michelle and Rashah and Circe and Mike and Donn and Akwasi

And Joseph all gather together to poet together

While the joy in the heart of Queen Bennedene swells as she watches her dream,

Her dreamscape, her playscape, her pink house, her Heritage House

Become a reality

For: Those who poet together and play together have no time to destroy or pollute

the planet.

© 2000 Marvin G. Kimbrough

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6. Bennedene by Floyd Freeman

The house with its rich heritage

Sits majestically on a hill

close to IH-35

almost overlooking the capitol

As I approach the white picket gate, swing it open

I am greeted with a low growl

And a sharp bark

Challenging me,

The dog dares me to approach

I walk toward the house, the pink house

The house, former residence of a Huston College president

My mind races back in time

And conjures visions

Of guests, socializing, dancing, and frolicking

On the front porch

The dog is silent now

Poets and guests are seated in chairs on the lawn

Stazja is the MC

Her low intriguing voice penetrates the heavy sultry air

I swing open the creaking screen door

And join others seated in the living room

Oh! What a room

High 12ft. ceilings, 8ft. double-hung windows

Framed by delicate, white lace curtains, wooden floors

Buffed to a high gloss and a small transom over the door

The music is playing and poets are chatting

I move to the dining area

There she is -- the tall, soft-spoken, gracious

Queen of the Heritage House

Who has opened the doors wide to local, national, international poets,

Travelers, musicians, and students

And Oh! How she can cook and bake and make you feel so warm,

Comfortable, and welcomed

Bennedene, a personality that cannot be duplicated

Because she is she, she is real, no pretense, no con

Just sweet, lovable BENNEDENE

© 2000 Floyd A. Freeman

7. dearest benne, by Mada Plummer

before the sun

arrived, just about the time

a deep blue october sky

was turning over,

i came back

with a flashlight

to search

for the fresh footprints

i left in your flowerbed

the evening before.

they got erased

by torrential night rains,

and slashing wet winds

that cleaned the air, silenced

the streets, and fiercely shook

the small elms

in your front yard

until they dangled,

as if unplugged.

"the will of God

will not take us

where

the grace of God

cannot

keep us."

in sisterly harmony,

we still share giggles,

swap recipes

for a happy day,

plan a sunday afternoon

tea time and swing

back and forth until sunset.

the first time

i crossed the threshold

of the "pink house"

on east 13th street,

familiar spirits

met me at the front door,

tore my breast, split my blood.

from my great grandmother's

indigo scarf, to my father's coffee cup

stain on your kitchen table, and

my mother's apron on the doorknob,

my sister's framed smile on the mantle.

the sound of your quiet

footsteps across hardwood floors

rival slow, deep sleep heartbeats;

the sight of the old piano

in the corner stands

like forgotten cobweb;

the lacey curtains that hang

at the windows reminded me of

how my mother waited, watched

listened for us to come home

in playground dirty uniforms.

before the sun

goes away today,

we should

walk deliberately

in the garden

among the tall grass,

leave behind our

footprints.

© 2000 Mada Plummer

8. Dear Miss Benne by Ian Bernard

I remember the first time

I walked up to the front door

of the "pink house" on East 13th.

My mom brought me to you

on the scariest day of my life

since coming to Austin,

even more scary than going

driving down hill on Spicewood,

my first day at a new school

with faces I had never seen.

My heart felt like it would break

out of my chest when I saw

the taillights of my mom's car

move away from where we stood.

But then you opened your arms,

and hugged me. Thank you

for making my heart feel better,

and beat slower.

My mom said that the two of you

share mothering me.

And that's cool!

Remember the morning when

my mom told you

I have a stomachache?

She gave me a teaspoon

of Pepto Bismol and waited with me

at home until my stomach settled.

I want to thank you Miss Benne

for stopping to the store

on the way to school to buy a bottle

of blue colored Gatorade for me and

for the hug at the gate

when I had to go my way

and you had to go yours.

This Monday morning

while it was still dark and a little foggy,

we drove up to your corner

and there you were,

sitting on the bottom step

with the jack 'o lantern we carved

from a big fresh pumpkin.

And the candle you lit glowed warmly

through the openings. Thank you.

Thanks Miss Benne

for being in my life.

I just wanted to let you know

how I feel about you.

Something else we share,

the same birthday, November 12.

Now that's cool!

Love, Ian