NYU Black Renaissance Noire Volume 18 Issue 3 - Fall 2018 - Page 64

— for Richard Danglemont It’s those things the memory of which I may never be free The daily in/digestion of each little bit of French history the licks from the cane landing like mangos falling from their trees And a flute LIKE A ROSARY SATCHMO recited for the peace of a soul so too my nights go by counted like beads silent like a monastery haunted no don’t shut your ears to the hiccups the sobs the subtle glissandos the stridence the insistence the cadence of the blues — swung — oh! — [Léon-Gontran Damas, Graffiti, 1952] by the trumpet of Satchmo lament stifled in the maw of the lynched black A reed flute playing its slave-songs out over the mornes the oxen ruminating over the savannahs and the zombies that prowl around while the mill bosses fuck around and the good nigger turns on his miserable straw pallet after ten, fifteen hours’ labor in the sugar-mill glup-glup-glup of blood sliding over the mighty waves of the River Mississippi [Léon-Gontran Damas, Pigments, 1937] green lightning flying crackling burning in Virginia Kentucky Georgia the steady balancing of bodies whipped to frenzy by sermons and long sanctified cries rolling up the aisles of black churches in Missouri red desires rekindling Alabama nights Oklahoma nights Bahama nights no don’t shut your ears to the hiccups the sobs the subtle glissandos the stridence the insistence the cadence of the blues — swung — oh! by the trumpet of Satchmo don’t shut your ears to the laughter the sighs the delirium to the blasts the wa-was the joy building up — ha-ha! — cuttin’ loose — I do b’lieve ya! — from the trumpet of Satchmo smiles of black babies brightening the black night of Alabama Oklahoma the Bahamas the faked joy of black girls yellow girls in the black cabarets of Harlem searching the bottoms of their glasses of dark whiskey of golden whiskey for the forgotten face of some brown boy some yellow boy from Baton Rouge or Natchez laughter of black people cruising the streets the black streets of Frisco Chicago Santiago no don’t shut your ears to the laughter the sighs the delirium the blast of the wa-wa the joy building up — ha-ha! — cuttin’ loose — I do b’lieve ya! — from the trumpet of Satchmo RECALL Poems by Guy Tirolien translated by Brenda Marie Osbey poetry