Monday’s Verse 2/5/2018

Dear friends,

well, that hiatus wasn’t intended, but I guess in retrospect it was necessary, and that’s why it happened. I flew out to Phoenix on MLK weekend and just lost all sense of space and time. As happens in Phoenix. My interactions with poetry have been limited over the past weeks, outside of good music on my car radio. And there was also a brief moment at some point in the last 3 weeks when I had to recite "The Lake Isle of Innisfree" to myself just to settle the ol’ nerves, knowhattamean?

I do follow the Poetry Foundation and Poetry News on Twitter, so every once in a while a new poem just flits across my screen, and if the title or photo grabs me, I take a swipe at it. Like the title of this one.

Cornelius Eady ("Say uncle, or die!") co-founded the Cave Canem poetry workshops in 1996. The group promotes work by emerging African American poets, many of whom have passed through the University of Pittsburgh — and many of whom we’ve read in Monday’s Verse. He uses the rich traditions of African American music in his poetry, and the title of this one caught me because I assume it’s about Nina Simone, one of my favorite singers. The mention of keyboards and the gigs she turned her back on tells me so. I’ll assume most readers have listened to her a time or two; if you haven’t today’s a great day to start! Have a great week, -ed.

NINA’S BLUES

Your body, hard vowels

In a soft dress, is still.

What you can’t know

is that after you died

All the black poets

In New York City

Took a deep breath,

And breathed you out;

Dark corners of small clubs,

The silence you left twitching

On the floors of the gigs

You turned your back on,

The balled-up fists of notes

Flung, angry from a keyboard.

You won’t be able to hear us

Try to etch what rose

Off your eyes, from your throat.

Out you bleed, not as sweet, or sweaty,

Through our dark fingertips.

We drum rest

We drum thank you

We drum stay.

-2008

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