Five Homage Poems


Four for Shepp




Gatefold album covers of orange

inside of which Archie Shepp manifested

statements of art,

social responsibility, tradition—


serious texts to accompany

a serious music

a fire music forging

socio-aesthetic felt fabulae




poems propounding pleasure and protest (both),

a tone propolict, gooey,

propitious in its gutturality—

it’s gonna be a good night—


to lay down those scratchy slabs

of vinyl, their heavy covers,

their heavy register finding

the ingate then the path




“[James] Joyce went back to the Druids.”



which is to locate the spirit

in the word and wail, the recitation

of knowledge—be it mystic or felt,

felt textures, a texture of foal’s fur


a text, printed or pressed in wax,

the bees fly us there then erase it,

wind out of a horn, born once more blow

the location of a spirit underneath the mind




“This is a black music. It is a form that black men have given to America . . . havegiven to America . . . out of love!”



acknowledgment or reference to tradition

back/front-garde, thing nouvelle

revolving to a gutbucket beat or

no beat where the wail warps itself


in a pome tenor-throated, of the stage

or in the studio threaded with tapes

revolving and tender, impressions

of birth, and by which art


« murderers

« they shall be destroyed »


and for which art—

for what it’s worth,

I offer my humble




Archie Shepp: 1960s-70s free-jazz saxaphonist and poet.



Bill Evans (Juxtapositions)



Swirls of notes and

shimmering rolls,

or the bittersweet note,

the sad simplicity of

the out-of-key jab—


not always entirely in the blues,

the complexity of bop and

the lyricality of something

I don’t know,

be it fast, or

s l o w


—you listen to Bill Evans

in those places in

your chest or mind you didn’t know

were there, yet there

are those weird places,


a vein

you both share


Bill Evans: Mid-late-twentieth-century jazz pianist.



For Richard Realf




doomed as Burns and Byron,

stabbed and wandering


whose guesses at the beautiful,

whose petting lissome ladies

whose draggled torn-up pages


to Five Points, then to Kansas

to fight against the slavers

—guerrillas American of the soil,


militant rhetorics of poetry

composed upon the prairie ground

at night, or daylight in the leaves


Realf, secretary of state

in John Brown’s provisional govt.

in secret meetings and orations


his Jesuitical responses

to Jefferson Davis

in the federal inquest committee room


and in the outright war

fuck the South, its “chivalry,”

bullets, bullets galore


Realf, post-war wandering

city to town breakdowns,

Pittsburgh panic and poverty


who desolate had burned with love

and swum the hashish skies,

his primal mystic texts, reports


whose mistakes kept coming back

like bad metaphors,

to hurteth him as he hurteth


and ever on he fled his own flaws

hawking rehashed poems to papers

doomed finally to Oakland by the bay—


Realf, I glimpsed you, hoary,

turning a wood-clapped corner

down a hallway of the Winsor Hotel


peripheral visions of poison suicide

daisies round your grave,



Richard Realf: 1832-78, mysterious and storied poet.




Homage to Peggy Pond Church



Once she held this book

to sign it—

and if in dream the dead

return to tell you something—



does she hand you the golden flower?

do you fly above the mesa

pursuing her vision of beauty

the bulge of twilight

the bird that finds its exit

from amid the beams

of the box store


this pink book with green endpapers

of hills, dry riverbeds, ski trails,

and arroyos filling with rain

that she held cupped in hands

till it ran through and down

the atomic air


Peggy Pond Church: New Mexico poet, 1903-86.



Elegy for Leroy Carr



Preceding the blues

of the southern fields,

the Indianapolis avenue


on which human being

sang his sogged refrain

and folded the chords of a traum-time scene


rain along gutters

of the Avenue,

black holes in the white wall of the back room


a becoming-wax—

a becoming-train—

there’s rats in my bed, and booze for my tomb



Leroy Carr: Indianapolis blues pianist and singer, recorded 1928-35,

accompanied by Scrapper Blackwell on guitar.