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R H Y T H M & B L U E S
S H I M M Y
Through the wallI hear them again—the couple—not fighting but doingthe other thing— his cat-criesas if a trapped beast— even above the musicsaying God— her quiet—my owneavesdropped breath— You are, lady, admired—secretsomething kept afar, a near,anywhere mist gatherslike moss. She fluteme, fa, fast, quick- silvered— E T U D E I love making love most justafter—adrift— the cries & sometimetears over, our strong swimming done—sheet wreck— mattress a life-boat, listing— D I T T Y You, rare as Georgia snow.
J I N G L E
I drive past pickup windows, unordered—only want to chew your fingers like a child do—to taste, watch with each bite—a breath—your body & breastses growas if my mouth led to your smooth stomach. F A N T A S I A Day disappears like a doveinto the dark of the magician’s hat— abracadabra alakazaam—my hands flutter about, offstage, lost undernight’s false door.
B L A C K B O T T O M
Norhunter great am I though I the seafor you would cross—Forgive me— your ivory etceteraI have smuggled through customsinto tuneless this C A N - C A N I am some sitcom star—too oldto be acting this a-way—You lay me out, ko— Okay, they say, is anAfrican word—I nowknow how a lexicon canbecome less, turn to mere mutters & otherwords for yes— B O A S T S Wouldn’t be no fig leaf if I was Adambut a palm tree. S T R I D E P I A N O I wish to tell you I want you to come downwhere kudzu takes you all a sudden, the light,the porches bloom(& are no stoops) with bourbon& even the talk has a song long since gone.
B L U E SGimme some fruitGimme some fruitFresh salted melon maybe some mango tooYou had me eating pork ribsYou had me eatin hamYou had me so I was feedin straight out your handGimme some fruit, babyGimme some fru-uitSomething red& juicy I can sink these teeths intoYou had me eating peas LordYou had me eatin spam(You had me so turned round)I never dreamt all you said came straight out a canGimme some fruitGimme some fru-uitGimme something strong girl to clear my system a youYou served me up like chicken You deviled me like hamAlls the while I never knew you had you another manGimme some fruit, girlGimme some tomato tooWhat else is a poor carnivore like mewithout you supposed to do
J I V E
OnceI did not dare R H A P S O D Y Tonite too many things lead to those whiterooms the face makes once skin pulls back—what’s beneath the black—Lord, teach me how to returnto that thing called flesh, how to give upthis ghost—The woman I woke to the world withgone from the places once we stood. Some days I wish myself S O R R O W S O N G Saying goodbye to the body her body, to whatwe knew or growed used to—on the subway home, her mouth stillon my mouth like the gospel(thick as a cough or its syrup) hummedby a woman on the loud orange seat beside me.
D R U M T A L K
Lord knows I am myself unsure & alone—wreckt—ship, rocket stranded, snared, stripped—I am both the naked& the priest we parade C A L Y P S O I touch my hair and sigh. Child,I have left only skin—an oldunstirred soup’s— E N C O R E Are the proper authorities notifiedyou’re aloose— heartbreaker like youshould be outlaw on the run—I ammyself a man most un-wanted, profilein your local post office a lost puppylove.
L O C O M O T I V E S O N G S We were hobos every year
Of the trees, nests are all that’s left—in wind pine limbs creak like an old man’s, Even a bird, a dog, got him a cagehe can bark all night in, or sing. D O O W O P Honey babyLady lovelyMilk shake your money makerShoo wahShoo wahCountryfiedSudden friedAlabama mamma jammaLow bassFast pacePast faceFemme postalePenned palMy galCorner songDone wronged B A N J O And after 3 days rain the frog song stops—which had womped& bumped loud like a distant chained-up dog—and the birds begin—mockingbird,wren.
F U N K
Thank youthen, for not even the note, just my opening the door to find you ( 4 ) Sometimes I feel like the stargazersI bought you (and you left behind to die, and remind) will last forever orat least one week longer. I would get down on knees, or payto build a stain-glass mission if that would get me in—I’d slave& scrub & sing in Sunday best till I was cleanas a broke-leg dog—I’d save & spring for a whole new church wingif that would let me see my Lady of Fog& the FortySorrows again— F I S H S T O R Y For you I would give upGod—repeal once & for all, unkneel—you are beautiful, little devil—redbonedrusted.
J U B I L E E
Sister, you are a late-night preacher, laying handsupon me cross a tee-vee screen—I bow down & send you all my green—trace my palm’s outline so you can bless merich. S U I T E No more flights— the climb up the steepsteps to your roostI will no more make.
H O N K Y T O N K
This town’s not near big enough, baby—one saloon, a strip club & this buzzardof a cop who keeps circling circlingAnd still this traffic S A X O P H O N E S O L O Drive till sun stares me down. The dog in the flatbed in front of me, surfingdelighted, tonguing heavy air—The way he does not bother with death (or viceversa), or the fall possible ahead—a broken hip S L I D E G U I T A R Tonight I wake with mud in my head, a thickbrown I sink my line into.