Blues Chant Hoodoo Revival

my story is
how deep the heart runs
to hide & laugh
with your hands
over your blank mouth
face behind the mask
talking in tongues
something tearing
feathers from a crow
that screams
from the furnace
the black candle
in a skull
sweet pain of meat

    let’s pour the river’s rainbow
    into our stone water jars
    bad luck isn’t red flowers
    crushed under jackboots

your story is
a crippled animal
dragging a steel trap
across desert sand
a bee’s sting inside your heart
& its song of honey
in my groin
a factory of blue jays
in honey locust leaves
wet pages of smoke
like a man
deserting his shadow
in dark woods
the dog that limps away
& rotten fruit on the trees

this story is
the speaking skull
on the mantelpiece
the wingspan of a hawk
at the edge of a coyote’s cry
the seventh son’s mojo hand
holding his life together
with a black cat bone
the six grandfathers
& spider woman
the dust wings
of ghost dance vision
deer that can’t
stand for falling
wunmonije witch doctor
backwater blues
juju man
a silk gown on the floor
a black bowl
on a red lacquered table
because it’s true

    let’s pour starlight
    from our stone water jars
    pain isn’t just red flowers
    crushed under jackboots

my story is
inside a wino’s bottle
the cup blood leaps into
a man on his knees
facing the golden calf
the silverfish of old lust
mama hoodoo
a gullah basket
woven from your hair
love note from the madhouse
naming the shape
of things to come
old murder weapons
strings of piano wire

    let’s pour the night
    into our stone water jars
    this song isn’t red flowers
    crushed under silence

our story is
a rifle butt
across our heads
arpeggio of bowed grass
among glass trees
where they kick down doors
& we swan-dive from
the brooklyn bridge
a post-hypnotic suggestion
a mosaic membrane
skin of words
mirrors shattered
in roadhouses
in the gun-barrel night
how a machine moves
deeper into piles
of bones
the way we
crowd at the foot
of the gallows

Yusef Komunyakaa, “Blues Chant Hoodoo Rival” from Pleasure Dome: New and Collected Poems. Copyright © 2001 by Yusef Komunyakaa. Reprinted with the permission of Wesleyan University Press.
Source: Pleasure Dome: New and Collected Poems (Wesleyan University Press, 2001)
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