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“There was a time” James Brown sang, and I want to dance. But that causes the devil
to prance upon me, then lash higher his liege around my waist & squeeze me
till my voice box almost shatters. You’re a doll, he says, as he smashes our
turntable laughing at the clatter ancient 45 RPM’s make as they break treasures
from a lost last century when sweet soul music elevated our scissoring feet
How he hated haloed Afros radiant with pride & that slide away from suffering—
The devil hates Black genius. Made him work harder than hard to render
it witless and dope stung. He hates having to move one iota out of his trifling
comfort zone. Can’t I listen to one piece of my heart untarnished by his guile.
Child soul music is now in limbo, and me bruised again, cleaning up those broken 45s,
somewhere on the other side of this sad Kingdom
Another woman augurs the audio
& James Brown sings out “There was a time”
For Greg Tate
Copyright 2022 Patricia Spears Jones
Patricia Spears Jones many publications include A Lucent Fire: New and Selected (Buffalo, 2015).
I was inwardly weeping as I read this poem–so many gone, black genius exiled, shot, imprisoned, strung out, lynched. It isn’t my faith but the Devil is as alive to me as he is in your poem. Gratitude, Pat, for the catharsis.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Poignant. We envied those beautiful Afros but we were safe in white cocoons
Yes, we were unaware of our privilege, weren’t we?
Marvelous writing. Though I don’t believe in “the Devil”, there is hatred for black genius. Please keep sharing your thoughts. Rosemary
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