Kevin Simmonds



Strum the banjo.
Strom is dead.
            Tickertape, tickertape
            Soul parade.
                        Grits-cooking woman.
                        Lower your head.
                                    Strom is dead, y’all.
                                    Strom is dead.
                                                Bible school dropout,
                                                Scripture’s been read.
                                                            Bull Connor’s waiting.
                                                            (No more hoses)
                                                            The fire instead.



for Paul Robeson

He unbuckled his voice to the congregation
For washing.
He unbuckled his voice to the tribunal,
They panicked.

Amen! never means the same thing
To everybody,
Even shouted out of the same
Unclosed mouth,
In the same
Molten voice.

Big black booming bloom,
A man,
Fanning the blistering rod.
His voice and us still passing through
The opened sea.

* * *

Kevin Simmonds, a Cave Canem Fellow, has recently had work in The American Scholar, River City, and Nimrod. He lives in the US and northern Japan.