Drive, man! It’s Round Midnight, Thelonius
in the beginning and now in the end,
man. I think–no, I feel . . . play! do it for us,
stroke one key against another, do right
the way you first heard it, before you knew
taking it out and into the clubs changed
the flats and sharps, do you still call them that?
I take the wheel. Guide me through Manhattan.
I turn up the other side of Harlem,
among them, the people who look like me,
I love to hear what I can do they can’t.
Mind you now, they see more than I can play.
I don’t know where to find rats on the keys.
Who knows why a body stays far from home?
Only Mama knows how you get up here.
The South’s a good country to be born in,
maybe, but don’t let anyone tell you
it gets better the more time you let pass.
There’s only one reason a man goes there
without her voice getting tangled in yours,
you can’t wait for the heat down there to rise.
(23 November 2013)
copyright 2013 by Floyce Alexander