October 10, 2009



(After John Lee Hooker)

The clipper swings by the low wave trough

The men pitching, sing the horn slave song.

Blown by the trade winds, in the gullet drifting.

In their ears pitching, back to New Orleans.


Trapped in their churches, crammed in the holes.

Fed to the veins of the earth.

The death-sweat, the deep-dark trees

The lull of long relief.

But something is born. There is some mystery,

Some frothing in hush, and rock.

Absolutely of themselves, the Canaan-Caribbean

like a twisted blue caress.


Sax pricked with acacia,

Some double bass from jungle toads.

Shoeless, loveless, listing with



Give them no way out,

they said

Let them remember the hush

the rock.

The last line of Ghana,

the Ivory Beach.

Give them no way out.

For apology excuses,

apology forgets.

Drive them down to the sea,


Give them no way out.

Take the sea,

take the sky.

Let their children remember

This was you,

this was I.

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