Undersong

An ode to the late poet Jake Adam York comes to life through Matt Smithson’s sketches of his native Southern landscape.

Undersong

--for Jake Adam York
 
 
In the timpanied tenor of penny arcades,
the red roofs of rusted tin shacks, hollowing,
in the plinking half notes of bare bulb juke joints,
we hear your song:
 
on stilts in swamps near gators half-breezing,
in the boiled brass cauldron bouillabaisse
bubbling, in the brined ribs and brisket slow
smoked in brick pits, we hear
 
your song in the scorched afterburn of good
bourbon, in the cracked red clay of dirt roads
undriven, in the low aching moan of loblollies
swaying, we hear your
 
song in the spluttering mutter of combines
grinding, in the shape note singing of clapboard
congregations, in the churchyards and graveyards
mossed over, tall grasses,
 
in the tune a child hums licking clean greasy
fingers, in the off-pitch whistle for a redbone
come running, in the symphonied cicadas, the tree
frogs tirruping,
 
in the deep breath beginnings of an old story, summoned,
in the borrowed voices of the exhumed, and revived,
in all of the places where you’ll never again be, Jake,
we are listening for you.
 
Stacey Lynn Brown
 

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Poem ©2013 Stacey Lynn Brown, all rights reserved. Used by permission of the author and publisher The Volta: Evening Will Come. Film ©2015 Motionpoems, Inc., all rights reserved.

 

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