Wednesday, August 25, 2021






Eastern guard tower 
glints in sunset; convicts rest 
like lizards on rocks. 

The piano man 
is stingy, at 3 A.M. 
his songs drop like plum. 

Morning sun slants cell. 
Drunks stagger like cripple flies 
On jailhouse floor. 

To write a blues song 
is to regiment riots 
and pluck gems from graves. 

A bare pecan tree 
slips a pencil shadow down 
a moonlit snow slope. 

The falling snow flakes 
Cannot blunt the hard aches nor 
Match the steel stillness. 

Under moon shadows 
A tall boy flashes knife and 
Slices star bright ice. 

In the August grass 
Struck by the last rays of sun 
The cracked teacup screams. 

Making jazz swing in 
Seventeen syllables AIN’T 
No square poet’s job. 

Etheridge Knight
 from The Essential Etheridge Knight
University of Pittsburgh Press 1986