(For Jon Hassell)
At the edge of the world, on Maarifa Street, children dream of a new
god’s pointless S.O.S. & march throughout the town under a ten-foot
tall Rumi-On-A-Stick It is baseball season, & they play no baseball,
suicide is passé, the parlor game of another generation, & delinquency
has yet to slip into its spats & introduce itself as a viable pastime. So
they sit here in these shag trees & they wait. This is the sound of time
passing, the open secret of the hills. Dust & dirt & dry as a bone meal
aperitif. They are already older than the rain, than the idea of the rain,
mock clouds circling, dust in the brain stem, dust in the socket, empty
water buckets plotted about in long lines. Siroccos furnace, & a yard
bird sets to scratching an escape route into the chicken coop floor. In
the twilight when the temperatures bottom out to flatline at slow-burn
the village opens up its trap door & dangles a slide rule from a string.
Crones tell of a dervish that one day will begin to knuckleball & then
cross over, meanwhile they have the caves, when the bats clear there
are still the caves. The best two out of three builds a better machine.
Song for Johnny Dyani
From a swatch of African veldt: Johannesburg, risen, along with hundreds
of tin hats laid out as a lane. The witchdoctor’s son & beautiful obstinacy
of an Ark strolling in ostinato spirited after. Reckoning as the crow flies
it’s about 8000 miles from here to New York City, another 4000 to Berlin,
& the electrons shed by Dyani are everywhere in between, holding court,
a mighty foundation poured joyous despite. We cannot abide a philosophy
of silence. On a corrugated rooftop a little girl singing Mbizo! is throwing
diamonds at the sun, in lion-shadow, Johnny Dyani a river behind his bass.
Jeffrey Little is the author of Five & Dime, The Book of Arcana, & The Hotel Sterno. He also has two chapbooks on view at Mudlark. Along with artist Karoline Wileczek, he is the co-author of two children who have each elevated mayhem into a recombinant art form. Jeffrey is a Delaware Division of the Arts Poetry Fellow, and an all around swell egg.