Mark Twain v. Blind Tom by Tyehimba Jess

Some archangel,
cast out of upper Heaven
like another Satan,
inhabits this coarse casket;
and he comforts himself
and makes his prison
beautiful with
thoughts and
dreams and
memories of
another time
and another existence
that fire
this dull clod
with impulses and inspirations
it no more comprehends
than does the stupid worm
the stirring of the spirit within
her
of the
gorgeous captive
whose wings she
fetters
and
whose flight she stays

I’m sent from above-
like rain on blue prayers.
blessed with Gabriel’s lost notes, I
can see up to God’s throne, yes,
while he plays this soul
of flesh free- makes me
the music of piano, the
breath and
burn in the
stormcloud’s roar from
when sound called up,
first made me whole.
sounds like love.
weighted in my chest
-it finds freedom after
hurt. I hear Earth’s tremble harsher
-better than the soil itself. When
land and tree sing to me, I hear
notes
wildly
blooming inside- a spirit
shadows across my face,
breaking free
unloosed.  I play the wind
in my blood.
 

**  Left side is original quote from Mark Twain’s Special Letters to the San Francisco Alta  California August 1, 1869

*Blind Tom was a highly popular autistic and blind pianist who performed throughout the US from 1860’s until his death in 1908

This is a stunning form – I’d love to experiment with something similar!

Mark Twain v. Blind Tom by Tyehimba Jess

General James Bethune and John Bethune Introduce Blind Tom by Tyehimba Jess

2016-04-05_jess-poem

Source: Oxford American | A Magazine of the South


Blind Tom (Thomas Wiggins) was an African American pianist and musical prodigy in the 19th century. He published a great number of original compositions as well as having a long, successful career as a performer across the United States, becoming one of the best-known American pianists. While autism was not a known condition during his lifetime, he is now described as an autistic savant.

More information is available at blind tom.org.

General James Bethune and John Bethune Introduce Blind Tom by Tyehimba Jess

Beauty’s Nest by Robin Coste Lewis

   JIM CROW WELCOMES YOU HOME
AFTER THE WAR, JUST AFTER MIDNIGHT
GRAND CANYON: 1951

Beauty’s nest
renders the body
mute. An elegance
so inconceivable,
it’s violent. Extreme. It hurts
the heart to see
something so vast and deep
can also be made of dirt.

And if it can be
of the earth, the body
ponders, might
such a landscape
exist also within me?

The four of you stand
silent, uniformed on its rim,
while the imagination tries
to conceive all the things
it is still too dark
to see.

You jump back
into your wide tan Ford
and begin to drive
again — again — past
all the motels, and their signs,
which, were it not just
after midnight, you know —
and could see — say
WHITES ONLY

Beauty’s Nest by Robin Coste Lewis