Ode on a Maverick Son

 

thomas sayers ellis

the voice

the cadence

the chant and beat

A-MEN, BEAM IN

 

the bard of D.C. streets

raps us up and down

these pillars a-cross

the gabled tower ceiling

 

he raps us rapt

stompin the floor

and whap-tappin

the microphone

 

BEAT MAN BIRD

MAN BEAT MAN

BEAST TONGUE

LICKIN BARE EVERYWHERE

 

EVERYBODY EVERYONE

for more than a grinnin

hour or less than it takes

to walk those crystal stairs

 

he mocks the talk, rocks

the cock-jivin po-em-men

entertainers crowin Dick

Gregory for Flip

 

Wilson or Nipsy

Russell big Bill

the Cos and Little

Richard Pryor

 

smilin white

teeth agleam burnin

his ventriloquist stream

the chorus preacher

 

of dreams deterred

recurred and referred as strange

fruit Huey’s slurred panthers

echoin fros and horn rims

 

thump, a-thump, thump

pick it up, CUT IT DOWN

thump, a-thump, thump

PICK IT UP, dig the sound

 

thump, da-bump, thump

MOVE IT OVER all around

thump, da-bump, thump

TURN IT OVER, burn it down

 

bippity, bippity-bap

BAP, BAP, BAP

keep rappin that milk bowl

bread happity, clap-slap

 

Malcolm X SHOT dead

smart and sober, just

like that, another SHOT

another SHOUT in the dark

 

hate is black and white

red-green as Christmas

Oh, children, it’s just a SHOUT

away, just a SHOT away

 

SHOT away, SHOUT away, away

away, forty-five years back

Charlie Watts felt the beat

as black is black

 

and blue stoned shelters

on the streets still scream

brother Baldwin’s fiery

news from mountaintops

 

roll on, Thomas thunder

give us your go-go

ed-ja-cation, N-intimidation

those master-con tribal-ib-ulations

 

some fate or gate or bait-

your-nation idea

of Gandhi Christ Buddha

Holy Moley Allah Moses

 

MAN-WO-MAN

go forth and propagate

illustrate conjugate

articulate Mother-me

 

lover of too much fun

bop stomp, stompin puns

this rattlin ivory hall stutters

high hats and chopper guns

 

chained between chandeliers

his tongue is one gone down

done and dirty son of a

native song singin along to

 

Albert, B.B., Freddie

M.L. King dreams his pulpit

table snare of conga drums

like Baraka rollin beyond

 

Le Roi’s blood-brother Ali

never throwin in the towel

just burnin down the house

all butterflies no bumblin clay bees

 

for Thomas Sayers Ellis

 

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