I pay tribute again!

I pay tribute again/East Coast Tribute.

Recalling Browne

and his For a Dancer

I’m not sure

what it is

about these days

that reminds

me about those times

on the East Coast

and of that Christmas

in 73.

It wasn’t white

it just rained

the grey mist

collecting

and clinging

to the forests

on the hills

above Torrington

and so you agreed

to drive me to the house

of Harriet Elizabeth

Beecher Stowe.

And you asked

if I knew much

about her and so

I recounted her life

and you asked

how an Englishman

knew so much

about America

but you made

no reference

to the blacks

and slaves.

So I told you the title

of my thesis in 72

Racism and colonisation

and the way

I was brought up

in a non-conformist

Methodist tradition

and you sighed

and just said

keep talking

I love the sound

of the way you talk

and the way

you use words.

 

On another day

I paid tribute

to Dylan walking

across town

from second avenue

to Hudson and 11th

in some kind

of pilgrimage

to the White Horse Tavern

and sitting

on the shiny

red plastic

covered stool

at that long

dark wooden bar

I ordered a beer

and recited aloud

the words

“Over St John’s Hill

the hawk on fire hangs

still in a hoisted cloud,

at drop of dusk,

he pulls to his claws and gallows up the rays

of his eyes

the small birds

of the bay

and the shrill

child’s play.”

I much preferred

Finnegan’s Wake

on 1st and 73rd

the owner was

from Galway

and I’d meet

the postman

late at the end

of his shift

and we’d sit

and drink Schlitz

and talk about

songs and hymns,

and the day

he ran from

the Red Army Choir

in Bute Dock

in Wales

and he’d sing softly

Ar hyd yr nos.

 

 

Lorca lived

for a while

on 116th

near Harlem

a stretch

too far

in my white

friends eyes

back then

but I walked there

anyway

and imagined

how this man

of Duende

and the deep songs

of the flamenco

loved this place

the sound of

its music and rhythms

and the grace

of the way

people smiled

and what would

Lorca have said

if he’d heard

the tone

of “Do not go

gentle”

and maybe

he too

would have

recognised

the Duende

in the Welsh blues

and I recalled.

“By the East River

and the Bronx boys were singing,

exposing their waists with the wheel, with oil,

leather, and the hammer. Ninety thousand miners

taking silver from the rocks and children drawing

stairs and perspectives.”

It is the deep song

that greets me

that makes me rise

that made me the man I was,

the man that I am.

 

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5 thoughts on “I pay tribute again!

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