Rhapsody – Poetry in Motion


(Singing) I hate to see the evening sun go down (Spoken) I had a dream I was dancing with the dead We were swinging, with hollow voices, hollow bones, emptying our lungs of the cities we carried for decades. I knew they was dead cause they had memories, wrapped around the necks, and the feet moved so fast they didn’t touch the floor. You see, at night this body allows the multitude
within it to awake, for a rhapsody in blues. You see these legs, I got them from dance
and, I used to dance the belts off brothers back in the day. People used to say, “Oh, she from the North!”
but we had dance. Don’t know which coast I came from, they
just assumed north, or “Oh, She from the Islands!” I never had no island in me, but my mind was
in the islands each time I poured a bad boa from these here hips, ask your mama. I remember the stirrings, that birthed the
movement. You see, swing was the physical account of
a people that weren’t being heard. Swing started way back in the Middle Passage
as we rocked between them waves, we were swinging. Swing was the response to the calls of jazz. Swing, my people’s way of loosening nooses,
of dismounting the hung. Good old fashioned Condor practice, to pay homage to the body stolen from this year’s skin. Black bodies swollen, black bodies swinging,
black bodies swinging in the southern breeze. Deuteronomy 21 verse 23: “The body must
not be left hung from the tree overnight”. The body must not be left hung from the tree
overnight, the body must not be left hung from the tree,
the body must not be left, but the body must not be, the body. You see, at night shoes were strand with cod liver oil, one thumb licked with disgust, two shadows. Black boys drawled in groups to windows, calling
their lovers and sing song, eat gin, People from all over the place don’t know
nothing about dancing, and they wanted to do the Carolina Shag the Collegiate Shag the
bop. These dances came from culture Basin of the
African Spirit, passed the rivers of blood that bridged all the way back to the Middle Passage, arrived on the shores of the Negro Identity,
long before America would claim us. The dance play route like full-on swaying
bones, with sound crooked like a neck snapping tomorrow breathless. Morning always came, with bodies smelling
like bitter herbs after hours of crowds contorted into the colors of night. Swing wasn’t just fun, you know, it was a
very real claim of the Holy Vessel. See the legacy of slavery was a divided country. Black men and brown women went missing through
the customs of hate crimes. Lynchings raped the South. But you see, there ain’t no bad the good
don’t come from. So when they left our brothers and sisters
hanging from them trees, from the margins of society, we saw that swinging. We repurposed the movement, we swung with
them, made the white people do it too! Industrious spines of the working class hung
on the air as musk, beer breath, and rhythm only colored people could emit from breast. Lungs swung to impossible heights, legs swung
impossible heights, jumps moved in every direction, the coast of swing. They say, what you give up violently, your
offer ever bound to. Every time somebody went missing, it sent
me into a timeless body, you see I had to swing, I was the anchor to the other side. Swing is limbs exhaling color lines at this
body’s right wrapping, crossing up themselves on the dance floor. It is the dismemberment of steps in search
of missing parts, brother or sister. It is hooks in tunes wrapping arms noose-like
around waists Every shift of the fingers was a measured
movement. Black bodies swung from the floor to verse. We were cold switching with the languages
in our bones. We were shotgunning with percussionists. Exhaling rhythm that would press and plead. Ladies watch with shifting skirts. Blood pooled in the legs first. Feet acknowledged each beat they were missing as if they need to itemize each part of the holy congregation. Waist twist pop-less from the pelvis. Hip over shoulder like branch over body. Heaven has always been just beyond bent spines
and gasping. It is in the ache of emptied lungs and swollen
fingers, bulging eyes and the twisted mouth. If you find yourself wanting to taste this
dance, then part the lips first and allow the collar bones to snap into a cadence of swing.

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