Take Me Out to the Go-Go

By Thomas Sayers Ellis
Nikita zips across stage
Trailed by a troop of white-gloved
One-wheelers: Killer Joes,
The 12 & Under Crew
In disguise.

A sixth sense guides him
Beyond darkness. An
Inner voice says when,
Don’t stop, don’t stop, don’t stop,
I’ll tell you when.

A constellation of funeral homes.
Jumpsuits. Red & white
Ribbons in the sky. The total
Groove, a carnival of roses
Circling the moon.

Mere call & response
Never knocked socks this way,
Lifting nicknames & dates
From the faces of tombstones
And mere call & response never will.

God climbs inside,
Asking for souls—
Something we weren’t taught to share.

FOOTNOTES: go-go, (noun) I. to go for it [Fr. early Motown; poss.
Yoruba “agogo”]
. I. A vernacular dance music
unique to Washington, D.C.; a non-stop, live party
music in which a pulsing bass drum beat blends
with African rhythms and the sounds of timbales,
cowbells, and conga drums as trumpets, trombones,
saxophones and synthesizers belt out licks from Jazz,
Funk and Soul, punctuated by rapped greetings
to the local crews and ongoing dialogue
between the dance floor and the band;

2. a music/dance event featuring Go-Go
bands, generally at a community center,
skating rink or dance hall, frequented by teens
and young teens “hooked up” in the latest
casual wear; (verb, int.). I. To go for it.

Thomas Sayers Ellis, “Take Me Out to the Go-Go” from The Maverick Room. Copyright © 2005 by Thomas Sayers Ellis. Reprinted by permission of Graywolf Press.

Source: The Maverick Room (Graywolf Press, 2005)

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Poet Thomas Sayers Ellis

Subjects Living, Death, Religion, God & the Divine, Arts & Sciences, Theater & Dance, Social Commentaries, Popular Culture, Music

 Thomas Sayers Ellis


Thomas Sayers Ellis is the author of The Maverick Room (Graywolf, 2005) and a chaplet, Song On (WinteRed Press, 2005) and his interview with Bootsy Collins appears in Waxpoetics #18. He lives in Brooklyn, New York and teaches at Sarah Lawrence College and in the Lesley University low-residency Creative Writing Program.

In April 2014, Thomas Sayers Ellis was a featured writer for Harriet.

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SUBJECT Living, Death, Religion, God & the Divine, Arts & Sciences, Theater & Dance, Social Commentaries, Popular Culture, Music

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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