Expose him, the first thief
who culled the strange fruit,
from another man’s tree.
Blue hues, strained through blank,
brittle pages of Southern Baptist bibles
poured over an ivory palate
to pack the cotton panties
of pubescent girls—with a bullet.
Cunning Iago with pompador’d fin,
a hillbilly hipster humping heartbreak
in roadhouse finery. Nothing intrinsic
ever flowed to the North,
save a white boy whose mouth dripped
of sweat-leather sex steeped
in Tupelo breast milk and honey.
Memphis’ man. Androgy’s scam.
Colonel Tom’s Cadillac King.
The slick highway man
polished That’s All Right Mama,
rubbed her clean,
and drove her to Levittown, steamroll’d
over Hoboken, sang gospel ‘til dawn,
with feather brushes plucked
from a black man’s swansong.
Blind Willie’s voice lies intestate,
while his tunes transcend solid gold.
First published 2001, The Pinch