francine j. harris

escape (after Michael Jackson and for Blair)

The dead Michael has a new album. I could listen 

with the dead you. You and me we could

dead snap to the dead Michael. I get why it’s sparkly.

The first song music is back to the old Michael. I wonder what

old you the dead you would release when you were old

and famous. On a stage in Motown, spinning and snapping

with your fingers at your nipples, like dead Michael.


The second song is why the Michael is dead. His voice

is strained and lightened to a shade of boy band. It’s too bad since

Justin Bieber. not dead. and whiny. It’s too bad since

this Chicago is trying too hard. This Chicago is the old dude at a house party

in a green track suit. sequin something inappropriate. aging vocal chords.

The dead Michael could stand a dead road trip.


By the third song, I’m in the mood for Michael. It is a mood

isn’t it. something heaven, whatever. When Michael presents.

his arms cruxed and his leather jacket pushed up to a painful

elbow fold. At least you never wore those awful pants.


You did, however, sometimes make a moody abstraction,

like Michael. like the fourth song. You had a threshold for cheese. 

You weren’t afraid of covers or rewriting the whole verse. You had

a big open palm when you cupped your hands and sang and then

opened them up to the sky. You moved backwards across the stage

sometimes unlike Michael, sometimes like a flock of reversing birds.


longplay:  It gets better, I notice. Of course, you weren’t afraid to say nothing in those moments. a look in your eyes. a star. a star right there in the corner and the moment when you took it in. in the position of the cheeks, in the shoulders, when you sat real still, not everything was chorus. Maybe we can’t say the same for Michael. He had such hope for epic.


So it makes sense then, the digits in that fifth song. We need

the film and circuitry from dance that makes a cyber slave of things. It’s funny

how often the characters in his songs were virtual women

like this one, nameless and spinning because. ya know. Music. but

whose music? When Ms. Thing is so clearly dead digital Michael. What girl

was Michael ever watching, undead. her own mirror on her own dance self.

maybe some kind of twinning. maybe dead Michael as slave.


Dead or not, that sixth song is silly. You know it. I know it.

Let’s not talk about it. The children are not worth such awful

laser. Dead Michael is on Seth Meyer right now. You and dead

Michael are doing a TeDx talk about poor laser children. Let’s hope 

it wouldn’t have simply hashtagged our girls, with no real plans. 

It, like other things, is catchy. Let’s just wait and see.


If me and you had blue fedoras, and took blue canes along West

Grand Boulevard, one more time. Your neck the thick of blue bogart

and maybe we didn’t touch, but finally in Detroit, we could wear

our OG white tailored suits. Is that too much? stars

in the phone wire. shoes spit shine step to cement

and the color of swans. The moves so easy. fall in every one

who knew you, a parade of flash mob with dead Michael

in their heart, and a white kerchief in their breast pockets.


We can both agree on this thought about the final production.

The market wants something you are not. It’s in the boom.

in the beatsnare meant for club sound. It’s really un-interrupted, right.

As soon as you open your dead Michael. and you.

It is hard, right, when the only real xscape …