Voodoo Child is playing on the radio,
This Benjamin Sainte-Clementine lad cries out in broken notes,
A Jimmy Hendrix cover done some final justice,
Quick violent tunes,
By a soulful dark man from Edmonton.
Strange verses from a wicked street in his memory.
Stick fingers plunking out deep dark secrets from piano keys,
Bare black feet tapping underneath.
The sweetest pain you ever heard on public radio.
They play this kind of stuff right before daybreak,
Thru the graveyard shift,
For truckers and prostitutes,
Addicts and store clerks,
Night watchmen and writers.
For the strange and very lost,
Silent champions – these ones,
Tough acts to follow,
They have gone another night
without slitting their wrists.
I remember my first impression,
Of the singer’s handsome Negroid cheekbone,
His face in a newspaper center-spread
that wrapped some fresh baked madeleines,
A smudge of lemon glaze on his dark forehead,
His dark slim nose,
His pure white eyes surrounded by words in Françias,
He owned the best frown you ever saw on a Paris street,
The last of his breed,
There were not many left,
People with perfect frowns.
His animated rendition inspires me to write,
Some pretentious lines,
A little like poets today, you know.
There is a ‘76 typewriter
I picked from a shylock man in McKinney for nothing,
To impress a white Presbyterian girl
in the store minding her business.
I never won any souls with that bloody thing,
I never started any fires or cooked any passions with it too.
I roll out of bed at 88:88,
To light a Camel,
After a while naked on all fours,
I find it,
the old typewriter under rubbish,
I recover that missing glass vial,
with my severed appendix saved in chloroform,
I hold it up against the light,
The damn thing breathes still.
Pour myself some rum and coke, why not?
Ants escape the cup,
I extract the typewriter from its coffin,
Read its manual,why not?
Position it just right,
Sit to type a miracle,why not?
Roll in a yellow lined paper,
Test my damn ribbons,why not?
Crack my knuckles —
Oh for goodness sake.
Take another sip son,
Expect the magic of typewriting to kick in,
I want to write about love and such
like these vanilla poets.
But there is a riot outside my window,
I pull out a drawer,
Push aside tiny bibles and receipts,
Grab a blunt cooking knife,
Stand beside the window, ready for war.
A drunk white man has fallen off the roof,
Bleeding from every ungodly orifice.
His friends debate to let him die,
A quick fight starts,
They move him about,
Then stop on occasion to puke blood and laugh,
catching their breath.
Then wisdom arises,
After a few random punches connect.
They leave him there to die,
He grunts like a wounded warrior,
Surrounded by darkness and crickets,
And a solemn pond with tall dancing meadows nearby,
And ducks that play in the middle of the night.
It is a beautiful place to die anyhow.
I dial 9-1-1,
A man warns me to stay on,
I dislike his voice,so I hang up.
Soon a woman calls,
To ask if I had died already,
Not tonight lady, I tell her.
But there is a dead white man outside my window,
She starts to take notes,
and do her job.
She asks my name,
I give her a test,
I ask if she knows this singer on my radio
– Benjamin Sainte-Clementine.
She says no,
I drop the call,
Thinking, white man must not be that important.
Voodoo Child plays on,
A second time,
And I think — this is the sort of thing
To write about,
A soulful dark man from Edmonton,
And happy white men falling from the sky.