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Poetry

Some of the things I was not doing at the age of twenty-two:
learning the Latin names of flowers (or even their English ones)
living abroad
recording music with the intensity & abandon
you hear on every single cut
of At Last! on which Riley Hampton’s orchestra’s
a tame & obliging brook under storm-spew’d sheets
of Jamesetta Hawkins’s—I hesitate to apply so diminutive
a word as voice to what heaves, careens, flutters & screams
from that beautiful black body that came to be known,
like so many other beautiful black bodies,
by her first name only—Billie, Ella, Dinah, Nina, Etta—
just to slip the tongue around those two syllables,
silk gloves tailored to contain exactly what they need & nothing
more, is to loose a world, a wonder, a wound
healed only by the implacable keeling
that overcomes the strings within the first two seconds
of “Anything to Say You’re Mine”
& gets so deep inside the body
it is no wonder we sing hymns
let certain words, certain sounds touch
the ribs, the hips, the feet, the teeth—
an utmost possession & discipline—
when Paul said the Spirit intercedes
with sighs too deep for words
he must have had in mind a wracked wail
such as churns from Etta & turns the simple pronoun “I”
into a four-measure lament, an unspeakable,
only singable & singeing cry over the gulf
between the soul & what the soul longs for—
night hangs heaven-festered scents
of jasmine & geranium across the street
from the Pentecostal church I walk by on my way
to the bus, late January in Atlanta & already
a cherry, a magnolia tree are bewitched into
flower there is no way to know the time of God’s
music but the ink-blotted moon moans, moans


The Image archive is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.

  • Taylor O

    Chills. I have chills. I love everything Jason Myers published in this issue.

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