Poem Written While Listening to Kamasi Washington's "Change of the Guard"
I suppose joy is a worthwhile thing to discuss. Triumph
makes me nervous. I’m attracted to pride. When speaking
of the metaphysical, obtainment feels more akin to reaching
a destination—maybe that’s why I don’t believe money
is real. It’s time
to turn now. I’m growing comfortable
in my discomfort. I love jazz
because of how I feel it in my body.
I love closing my eyes and moving. It’s not dancing—don’t
call it that. I don’t
dance. My mother never taught me
how. When the horns come in
—that’s where I noticed the absence
of vocals, oh, that’s what those chords were, in the corner, in the
back. But here I go again
confusing my senses.
Here I dabble in my imagining
of a space. Here comes the chorus. The swaying. The
passion. I don’t think I could ever kill a man
which is why others do it for me. One time I killed a chicken.
I still think about it. I’m sorry I always jump
it’s just that I’m living in the imperial core. What I’m listening to
is very beautiful, I promise. It’s just
I’m a failure. It’s just I have a very hard time staying focused
on what’s in front of me, and there’s so much chaos
in the world and there’s so much chaos
in music and I have so much faith
in Kamasi’s orchestrations
that even as the horns belting strains itself into what nearly becomes
a scream, I trust the longing
in that sound, do you trust me? I am not interested
in a thesis, or clarity, just the refrain
of rage and whose it is and who
it is for. It never occurred to me to be mad at my uncle, whose
chicken I killed, until I put the image of the moon in its eye
in a poem, then called that poem Noon. Then the white American
city-girl said That’s so traumatizing! and for a year I walked
around calling myself traumatized. I think a song can stay with you like that.