Work song in Akron & Mr. Terkel
I cross door posts of Ham holding lamb shanks. Scratch the promise land/make widgets and tool & die for tomorrow we’re merry. Signs For Sale in each yard. We bust blocks/we skip cool/we real school. Toque and coveralls. Rubber mountains of rock candy. Melting Pot lickers Free to Choose your Bread. Our place is loose change/mustard greens across the Mahoning. LeBron didn’t plan his return/future was a furlough. ‘The Decision’ was surplus value/he sent my kids to school with that revenue.
Ballers rivet our bearings/belt cities of the old drinking gourd. Cholera spares our democracy fresh water. The spark of a grazing lamb on Winthrop’s hill kicked a barn/set prairie grass to work building Chicago. Utilities of public power peopled journalists with bus stops/typeset in art deco plazas. Mr. Terkel knew the cow that burned an urban effigy. He interviewed her milker. On air. Prohibition bars serve lactose to sweeten the tax. Mr. Algren, come check this quote/You speak cattle. He works the bucket brigade for the rainbow sign. The America of business is witness. The State links hands with freshwater seas in a ferry dock to Luddington off Division Street. Studs knows Harriet Tubman’s niece/someone can vouch for her future on the twenty. Rivers flow uphill and tires traverse fire for a middle class.
Blonde Street youth all look the same/Platinum eyes/double Dutch dead elm disease.
Winter walk service hour shovel/Miller High Life eight cylinder/after school Uber drivers.
Boys dribble on blotter hoops/girls wear a wire/Thigh gap/scholarship/and a transponder.
Myra no hips knows beat drops/Justin black face minstrel mask/crawling king snake in tall grass.
Post modern giving makes Black Power salute/Blonde Street Prep proffer Mission Bibles to wit/
Global fight against dropsy/No mere nonsense, money. My friends collect sisters they like/
Instagram pics/Girls don’t live on our street/Territorio libre/8 Mile/Next town over.
Maquis mime troupe/the Ferlinghetti gang/We spit Lhasa verses from the Sorbonne/
Come on down Lawrence Clown prince/electric horseman/Buster Keaton for president.
Rotary jokes in camera must be told to Lions/Wake America/ Blonde Street youth tried heroin.
The river is a groove in the record.
Dilla (the vibraphone of God)
The Motor City Zeus for spinning Athenas/MCs spit rotors. Icarus, Dilla remains the sun to you pale misfit white hat prep of anomie. I never knew. Dilla. Spun records to the jungle gym/Sesame Street/Fisher Price/isn’t it nice/presenting The Count Counts To Ten/Little man. Hear my mother say/Black kids who play don’t play it ghetto/they play it like it’s played/You play it like it’s played. I hear an old teammate say/they play so well because they’ve got an extra muscle/we don’t. Coach says we’re too flatfooted to win.
I was a Jewish infant when Lailah paid me a visit. She said linguistics is light. Obstetricians delimit uhuru in the delivery room. Birth is a Tablet House of rhythm. I grew atonal uncoordinated in tap shoes/Olatunji’s hands should have raised me. Baby Dilla didn’t sleep/then dad played jazz. Later on in school. George Washington’s Drums on the Delaware was the album. Question: Is America the vibraphone of God.
Jeremy Nathan Marks lives in London, Ontario. Recent poetry, prose, and photography can and will be found in Chiron Review, Red Fez, Ottawa Arts Review, Floyd County Moonshine, Lethe Magazine, The Courtship of Winds, Unlikely Stories, Stories of the Nature of Cities, New Verse News, 365 Tomorrows, and Bewildering Stories.
–Art by Giuseppe Milo