Friday, August 2, 2019

#Poetry In Process

Let me say, first off, my apologies for subjecting you to Blogger and Google and the monopoly of manipulation you enter whenever you go to any website. If you are still here after their warning you that they will follow and sell every mouse move and click you make, you get to take part in an experiment. This is the second draft of a new poem and I feel insecure about it. It is about RACE, which is of course a touchy subject for a white man to address. I have asked two poet friends for reactions, both white, and they haven't said a word, which I know, it's hard, so I don't judge. That said, I am hoping a reader, somewhere in the world of weird connections, might give me a reaction, the hardest part is what I must leave out and I think there's something not quite there.

Ode for David Jackson

David, you don’t remember this. I wouldn’t expect you to.
I was just some white guy among the white guys you knew.
You, however, were the only black person I ever talked to.
I still remember the look in your eye when I sat next to you,
while you showed me what you could do on the school piano.
It was nothing, you tossed it off; it stayed with me though.

I think back at how you showed me its simplicity,
how vital and real notes could be in your hands,
the left-handed base line, repeating, so soulfully
and playfully; right fingers dancing, so delicately.
It came naturally to you, this aural seeing through
to how these notes fit, but I would never have heard,
on my own, what you showed in a moment or two.

It was at the Annual Lion’s Club Minstrel Show,
I just happened to sit in the front row and you
happened to be setting up for the band. You
played the drums, as I recall but I am old now,
my memory less distinct, like fog in the snow.
I recall men in black face made you turn yours away.
I feel ashamed to have been there, silent to this day.

You had shown me how James Brown moved,
like he was floating above the floor, and how
he changed the way the downbeat came, on
one and not on two and I understood it, too.
It was not something just anyone would do.   
I became a devotee, some called me a Negrophile,
One said I was a Wigger. I fell into it naturally,
sliding from Ray and Steve Wonder into the blues,
I even played a bluesman once, even paid my dues.

But Dave, I never got to thank you, for hipping me
to sound, to how simple and profound it can be,
music, like life, here and gone, almost instantly.
You never came back after high school. I can’t blame you.
I didn’t either. Who could stand that small town,
so hard to breathe, so low down,
and the culture, so square and unrhythmic,
no heartbeat, no soul, no sound.

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Thanks in advance for any reactions and input. I appreciate them. Poetry's a solitary activity, normally.

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