This is the real money…. Nikky Finney

For Derf Reklaw 


men & music & friendship 
levitated by sound emanating with no coercion 
rise & listen & witness 

dap in a nod from pianist resolving a solo 
trash-talking fingered into beatitudes on upright bass 
saxophonist awakens breath haunted with anger  
exhilarated percussionist collages 
suppressed votes memories of sacrifice  
 glint of grace prophecy in action 

/ this the real money / 

/ pay at the door / 
ephemeral threshold 

/ come as you are / 
seekers of transformation 

brave ensemble suspended over quicksand 

quilting civilization  
outing ascertainment 
tithing immortality 

aerating our irrelevant walls 
just so we can pinwheel 
 into the unrehearsed slow light 
of an improvising band

Copyright © 2022 by Peter J. Harris. This poem appeared in SongAgain (Beyond Baroque Books, 2022)Used with permission of the author.