This Is A Recording
“Since the emotions of the Negro race are foreign to the white man…”
You should have heard just what I seen
and shrug off a music that cannot be escaped—
my sainted mother’s song prizes
tarpaper, water’s tap, shuffle of the broom on the roof
so the whole house don’t fall in, precious.
No room in here, no room’s sound silenced,
no key unkeyed. Night was dark but the sky was blue.
Don’t go nowhere. Who do you love.
Ambience suggests a torture to hear by. Radio
standing in for today’s weather, lightning’s white thread
stitching up lilac and slate, tug and trestle cloud’s
down to downpour. Murder ballad’s something
I know about and Bible stories too.
I X becomes abomination in thine eyes
then shut thine eyes and darkness once more upon the water.
But let the needle slip into the acetate
& there’s nowhere even God can get to, can go.
Lordy, my Dixie holograms sheathe and shine.
Throw a present down a well but praise the echo,
call it past and seed every inch of Lake Providence
with microphone until the swamp serenades itself.
That lake is the will of God, God filled it up.
Is that what I sound like? Jesus doesn’t breathe
while he mans that trestle and track. That rail,
righteous as rain, underwater railroad,
each drowned station stippled with sound.
Who do you love. Who do you love.
Don’t you know a railroad man will kill you if he can.