Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Gates

Nature is the fountain of all we do,
where we drink and sup and make love in shade
before we return to work that we do
not against but instead of the dead world
surrounding us and having its long day
fulfilled, as long as we remain its slaves
as long as we have families who need
our supplication at the feet of gods
to bring back from all our nowheres
what is locked down for the common people:
We who try the locks and hammer the doors
are we who have our nowheres for a prize
that never rusts, nature has no word for
supplication, not even cruelty.

Music flows from the south up to the north.
You’ve heard rivers go against gravity,
well, so does the history of music.
In New Orleans King Oliver taught
him how to stage his trumpet and his voice,
Louis took it on up to Chicago.
I believe he was happy to be gone
from back alley poverty, his mama
turning tricks to keep her family fed,
rough trade everywhere you must learn to fight
not just to get the prize but stay alive
until you were able to play trumpet
and sing people back from gloom into light,
not even happiness but ecstasy.

And so I go nowhere now. I am here
to stay. Adore says, Juan, you are a fool.
She is tired of hearing her own footfalls.
She knows why I am here, and it is not
for her gris-gris to bring a woman there
I love still, but to find the words for what
I could not know I was too young before
I began to remember what I knew
but did not know I knew . . . Just a minute,
she interrupts, no kin of my husband
is more than a fool, is an idiot
in my house. I want it to be your house
but you are going to have to earn it now
that you no longer need my gris-gris to live.

Part of the magic would never return.
Her part. If he stayed to help her die now
he would do what she had asked him to do,
what he was already doing, writing
the family back through memory’s gates.
Ah, the time it takes, false starts, true endings
that lack only a beginning to be
perfect, finished, so that you can live life
anew now, go to her body in bed
if she were here and love her like lovers
must love. If only there were time enough
to reverse the flow of the river north
and make gravity her magic, she would
be here now, you would be able to love . . .

Adore says, You may be a damn fool, Juan,
but I love you. Just say the word and I
will work my gris-gris again to bring her . . .
He should go over to the park and dance
in his head the music of Congo Square.
He could travel north to Chicago then
and carry her back, to the home he has
made for her here . . . He is going nowhere
today. Nor maybe even tomorrow.
Love has its rules, they are not like art’s rules.
You can dream all night but what you believe
is true is so only if it’s not false . . .
Adore says, Cut the crap, honey . . . you must
see if your dream is ivory or horn.

(27 January 2011)

copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander


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