Once upon a today and yesterday and nevermore there were 7 men and women all locked / up in prison cells. Now these 7 men and women were innocent of any crimes; they were in prison because their skins were black. Day after day, the prisoners paced their cells, pining for their freedom. And the non-black jailers would laugh at the prisoners and beat them with sticks and throw their food on the floor. Finally, prisoner #1 said, “I will educate myself and emulate the non-colored people. That is the way to freedom — c’ mon, you guys, and follow me.” “Hell, no,” said prisoner #2.
Stars from five wars, scars,
Words filled with ice and fear,
Nightflares and fogginess,
and a studied regularity.
Gon’ lay down my sword ’ n’ shield —
Down by the river side, down by the river side —
Down by the river side...
Lord she’ s gone done left me done packed / up and split
and I with no way to make her
come back and everywhere the world is bare
bright bone white crystal sand glistens
dope death dead dying and jiving drove
her away made her take her laughter and her smiles
and her softness and her midnight sighs —
Eastern guard tower
glints in sunset; convicts rest
like lizards on rocks.
The piano man
is stingy, at 3 A. M.
his songs drop like plum.
Morning sun slants cell.
Drunks stagger like cripple flies
On jailhouse floor.
To write a blues song
is to regiment riots
and pluck gems from graves.
A bare pecan tree
slips a pencil shadow down
a moonlit snow slope.
The falling snow flakes
Cannot blunt the hard aches nor
Match the steel stillness.
Hard Rock / was / “known not to take no shit
From nobody,” and he had the scars to prove it:
Split purple lips, lumbed ears, welts above
His yellow eyes, and one long scar that cut
Across his temple and plowed through a thick
Canopy of kinky hair.