Published on Academy of American Poets (https://poets.org)


The Electric Slide is Not a Dance, Man!

I wanna privy you to a little secret. Come close now. Good. So, what you need to know is the electric slide is not a dance. It's a transmission code. What I'm trying to tell you is every time I need to leave here, every time I need to get to a place that feels like my mama’s cooking or my brother’s cackle booming from soot, I sound the gathering. I bring out the trumpets and horns whenever I need to shake this crypt dust settling my bones. I turn my stereo up. Just the other day, so-and-so tells me he wants me to teach ‘im the moves. I can’t teach style, can't learn blood to pound to a drum pulse so slick, it glide. So free, it ain’t. Can't teach ‘im, or nobody else who not from where we from what's innate. I mean, man, shit, there is a place I need to get to, a grin I need to spread, a quaking of my foundation ungrounded from laughter. The codes an impenetrable thing; how the slide is sauve, how the count off for the take off is the dip low, the count out. The down swing recollects our plot of land on this earth. Picking a leg high, a knee raised, a turn to the left is the way we know to leave our massacre behind, man. The dance floor is a square padlock you can't crack. Each space we take there is meant for us to occupy. Each brethren is attached to our side, our fronts, our backs. This pattern is a shield against depression or hunger hanging out of someone's blue eyes. Our bodies arrange a constellation in memory of the boy who was slain with no indictment, for the guillotined girl who went forgotten, for the housing stacked like the gut of the ship, the dogs and the waters. The blast off happens insync and our spirits rupture ceilings. We ritual. Sacred. Secret. Originators of a beat cascading. The electric slide is how we leave here, how we ascend. This kinship is how we get to a place named joy, and go home. That's blood, history, man. Ain’t no teaching that.

Credit


From i shimmer sometimes, too (Button Poetry, 2019) Copyright © 2019 by Porsha Olayiwola. Used with permission of the author.

Author


Porsha Olayiwola

Porsha Olayiwola is the author of the collection i shimmer sometimes, too (Button Poetry, 2019). An Individual World Poetry Slam Champion and the artistic director at MassLEAP, a literary youth organization, Olayiwola is the current poet laureate for the city of Boston. 

Date Published: 2019-11-01

Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/electric-slide-not-dance-man