Poetry Month: Day Twenty-Eight

A couple of summers ago, Tyehimba Jess spoke about his book leadbelly and writing in general at the community college the next town over for me. Though the book had been out for years by that point, I’d only just picked it up during a seasonal buying binge from Amazon, and was loving every point-of-view swap and key change. The only problem was that I found out about the event a month after it occurred while I was reading myself silly in the college’s air conditioned library. Since missing perfect events, then stumbling onto another opportunity years later is kind of a theme with me, I’m not too worried about getting another chance. For all fans of Lead Belly or poetry (and I hope that covers all the bases for anyone reading this), the book is nothing short of a joy to experience.

will you take this load...

he came at sundown, naked
of guitar, stripped of metal slide
ring, his fingers fretless and
filled with dirty sheets.

said he wanted to know how come
i never danced much at the jook,
why i just sat there in the back
next to the door, riding a slow nod,
the silent wound in his womb of music
he couldn't quite fill with flatted thirds.

asked me to wash his seed stained, lipsticked
sheets bright clean like sunday morning
sermon so he could lay down hard
in religion and wake up to rapture.
then he lean in close as summer heat:

what you know 'bout that word girl?
you know what rapture mean?
leadbelly writes home, 1934


lomax is carpetbagger
to the core.
truth slides itself
slicked up and sideways
out his mouth,
dressed up in the way
he wants to see the world.

so i let him brag on
how "he freed me"
'cause the fastest way
to a white man's heart
is through his lies,
the fastest way out
of his grace
is truth.
Image: Hipstaprint Leadbelly by Steve Snodgrass

3 thoughts on “Poetry Month: Day Twenty-Eight

    • All poetry will cease to exist and we will enter the dark days until next April.
      Or life will continue and everything will be okay and your days will be full of words.
      It’s kind of half and half.


      • I have just finished one of the best books I’ve read this year The Untelling and I slgrnoty suggest it to anyone that love good story telling. The writing remind me of my favorite author J. California Cooper. It is a simple story but very well told. It is of secrets and family and what secrets can do to your life and your relationships with those you care about and those you keep your secrets from. I look forward to the author’s next rendering.


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