Young Jackson is from wherever he is,
mostly from the country near the levees
where lights are dark, nobody walks but him
only because there is no other way,
and nobody sees the stars anyway.
He likes to go to town to hear music.
He’d stay home and listen but he has none.
There’s an old falling-down house no one claims,
no one knocks down, no one sleeps there but him.
One day he heard these men doing music
not far from his house, you can call it that
if you don’t have a home, and there they were
with drums, bass, sax, and horn, and did they jam . . .
He thought he knew how to talk about what
but not how, besides he wanted to play
not talk, he wanted to woo animals
back where they belonged, humans took over
too soon, crocodiles, pelicans, and snakes
four legged, two legged, and no legged,
and they might eat you up, land on your head,
or slither up to you in bed, but men
beat hell out of you if you didn’t mind
what they said, and you know, I never did,
he said one day he stopped me for a dime,
I gave him a quarter, he followed me
to Adore’s, she invited him inside
and after an hour she said he could stay
if he didn’t steal, do that and you’re gone
for good . . . He would mind the lady,
he would be quiet, he would leave his friends
where they were, in the river, in the marsh,
even in that bed that sure was no match
for this day bed in Adore’s living room.
What’s your name, honey? Adore asked. Jackson,
he said. You don’t have no last name, sweetheart?
They call me Hey kid! Nigger boy! you know . . .
That’s okay, Jackson, That’s like what they called
Adore here: Nigger girl! and I let them . . .
Then I found this house out in the bayou
where I didn’t have to hear that no more
and found a baby bird that went with me
to town and all over that lovely place
I made my own until I grew too tall
to justify my girlish ways and here
I am. Jackson went over and kissed her
and put his arms around her and held on
for dear life as she held him tight to her.
So Adore and I slept in the back room
when she was home and I was with her there.
I slept in HO HOTEL when she was out
in New Orleans with that Questionmark,
whom I saw only that once the loas
must have led me to him or him to me
bent over like his name, older than death
but Adore loved him because he loved her,
besides he wasn’t as old as he looked,
she declared. She learned new potions for love
he taught her and she made them up for me,
Juan Flores who abandoned his old loves.
Because Jackson was gone during each day
we made love in sunshine as though nighttime
was for traipsing around . . . when she was home.
Eighty years, she looked like a girl again,
this time tall to start, but a way with her
mojo no man is gonna bitch about . . .
(27 March 2011)
copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander