« Who Ain't a Slave? | Main | Hotlips »

Two for Phil ("Sometimes We Tremble")

By Roxane Beth Johnson

Roxane Beth Johnson’s first book of poetry, Jubilee, won the Philip Levine Award for Poetry and was published by Anhinga Press. In awarding the prize, Levine commented: “These luminous poems depict a world I never knew—or knew as a child and since forgot—and they do so with the authority of a totally mature voice. The artistry that unifies this collection is so perfect it is almost invisible. Altogether an amazing debut."

Here's a poem from Jubilee:

Weeknight Services

The organ's flare-hued opera hummed loud
in the small church above the bar
with its bumpy music. Our voices wound
up being too small to drown it out by far.
We sung of Jesus' blood with a tambourine,
one drum, twenty voices, paper fans, bells --
while the thump-thump of bass through the ceiling
made rhythm that silenced our fears of hell,
demons, white folks, Catholics, death's certain flood.
But the music—blood of Jesus, God bless
the child I was then—the music: The blood,
we sang would wash us white as snow. Blessed
assurance, Jesus is mine, Oh...what fears.
When I hear those drums, my heart is in my ears.

And here's one from Ms. J.'s second book, Some Glad Morning, that puts her spin on Levine's main man, Walt Whitman.

Slaves out back in the garden among the zinnias are

singing—death is a simple thing, he go from door to door. Say—this here’s how we stay alive: we pocket stones. Our favorite scripture is, Jesus wept and so we got to feel no shame. This is our hammer—we use the forked end to pull nails from our hopes. This here’s how a mother let go a child to be sold. Here’s how we beat out birds to hide in trees. Afraid we were, but knew even Jesus had no bed. Zinnias all over the place! Where’s your rock garden, girl? We need something stronger to keep the dust around our roots from going. Enough time here we’ve had, though. One last thing, though—here’s two stories we love to tell: Jesus slept on a boat during a storm; Pharaoh’s army drowned. Death is a simple thing, he go from door to door. Sometimes, we tremble.

From March, 2015

Trackback Pings

TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Two for Phil ("Sometimes We Tremble"):

» herbal asam urat from herbal asam urat
First of the Month [Read More]

Tracked on March 27, 2015 07:26 PM

» christian louboutin pigalle from christian louboutin pigalle
http://tsclub.com.my/images/gnIl-61.html [Read More]

Tracked on October 4, 2015 02:44 AM