Thursday, September 11, 2008

Mixing mortar, baking bricks

Here's another try at the sonnet. This one is kind of special for me, been trying to write a poem for/about Phyllis Hyman for almost 12 years. I grew up with her younger brothers and sisters (she was eleven years older than me) and met her once in Union Station in DC. She was in line in the Food Court and I happened to be behind her and recognized her, she was dressed down and had just got off the train from NYC. We talked for about 15 minutes after we got our food, she was so fine and sweet and super quick and very real. Then she was gone.

for Phyllis Hyman

What distant cry is this, whose rising moan,
whose flurry fleet of turquoise colored notes
caress the dark arms of the air? Then floats
and trails, rippling like scales or silver stones
awash and polished in a sonic stream
that cocks the head and taps the tempted toe.
Wends sibilant seduction in its flow,
vanishing towards the dawn like a dream.
Your bluesy whistle, hi-hatted with flair,
once also kissed the naked neck of night.
Improvised in the heat of harmony
it rose, a soft solo of hard blown air
dipping, fluttering, almost like a kite
held fast by cords, that somehow floated free.

I'm pretty happy with this version (Many thanks to Kevin Simmonds for his clear eye and sage advice), This poem probably needs to be recited from memory, rather than read off the page. I used to perform almost all of my poems from memory, but then again I used to dunk too. My dunking days are definitely over, but I can still memorize poems, it just takes work now, whereas before I would just remember them with no effort. I wish there was an open reading here in AC where I could go to try out some new stuff, maybe I'll trek into Philly to hit at one of the spots there.
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