There’s a father sleeping it off in every master bedroom
of the cul-de-sac the morning after, so Saturday
morning is a snooze. The moon is still out, eyeballing
the quiet street like Sun Ra did his Arkestra. Somebody
has to be a father figure for all of those musical notes.
No school busses to huff after, no mothers yelling
their children onward. The only weekend noise is us,
kicking rocks—so bored we can’t even hear each other—
on a celestial swirl of asphalt that will be a playground
one day. We stand, right feet extended in unison like foos
men, rock after rock arcing at sorry angles toward
the open bar that hopes to dangle four swings. Some
rocks go through, some miss as we balance on concrete
meant to backstop hop scotch & echo knock knock jokes.
Not somebody’s father, finally up & at ‘em, yelling,
You got to be kidding me, after he opens the property tax
bill. Maybe these bars were placed here for some other,
future kids to be dragged away from by big ears
or red necks toward the unavoidable arguments, fist-to-face
noises & the bleating saxophones that come after.
—after “Trumpet,” Jean-Michel Basquiat
the broken sprawl & crawl
of Basquiat’s paints, the thin cleft
of villainous pigments wrapping
each frame like the syntax
in somebody else’s relaxed
explanation of lateness: what had
happened was. Below blackened
crowns, below words crossed out
to remind of what is underneath:
potholes, ashy elbows, & breath
that, in the cold, comes out in red light
& complaint shapes— 3 lines
from the horn’s mouth
in the habit of tardy remunerations.
All of that 3-triggered agitation,
all that angry-fingered fruition
like Indianapolis’s 3-skyscrapered smile
when the sun goes down & even
the colors themselves start talking
in the same suspicious idiom
as a brass instrument—
thin throat like a fist,
flat declinations of pastors
& teachers at Christmas in the inner city.
Shoulders back & heads up when
playing in holiday choir of hungry
paints, chins covered
in red scribbles in all of the songs.