Brien James Dawson
The city hears nothing but the blues
for Langston and Charles
Somewhere downtown was a staple of conversation.
Every sentence started or ended with somewhere downtown.
Summer shows its face, shirts slowly lose sleeves
and the skirts, they sway to the movement of jazz music.
Heat hovers over you like a halo.
Left alone at night, I am with the blues,
the bay cat’s-paw slithers a shimmy
past the old cistern, gunning my bones and I shiver.
I got nothing left but living.
In this town, everything is pavement.
A woman at a bus stop collects her hair
and holds it high the sweat shines
like honey on her neck.
Everyone is in heat.
The marrow wakes
in the pelvis, in the feet.
my shoes shuffle slow circles
on concrete stairs.
In my studio,
late at night,
the blues walks in.
He looks like Langston Hughes,
smokes cigarettes and
blows out the saddest music
you ever heard-
beautiful, terribly beautiful
like a nuclear explosion
or an old black dress
falling brown shoulders.
When I’m with the blues,
city morning feet play the pavement
like piano keys and the music
of our movement wakes my center
and my muscles ache and swell.
I close my eyes, suitably stoned,
only so long can you be with the blues.
On the bus, crowed Monday morning,
my sadness is satiated by the girls
with the knack
for picking just the right skirts.
skirts that sway like horns
talking to each other,
in slow motion walk,
fabric dance with thigh,
My center is soused
from these small moments.
I hear the chaos of hurried feet
when the bus door juts opens
with an ah, as if to say it’s old,
tired, run down, pooped.
I hear the hell of other people’s
conversations and I want to blast
a drum suite salute into each mouth
that isn’t living off this music.
There are so many
bandstands and bedrooms
for me to make noise,
I just want silence.
I just want to sleep.
Stepfather blues #1
I lean down as gracefully
as a man of my size can
and whisper like a secret
She opens her eyes
the way gods part seas
twisting towards the window.