Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE SYNCOPATED CAKEWALK, by CLARENCE MAJOR



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THE SYNCOPATED CAKEWALK, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: My present life is a sunday-morning cartoon


My present life is a Sunday-morning cartoon.
In it, I see Miss Hand and her Five Daughters
rubbing my back and the backs of my legs.
Nat King Cole provides the music and the words.
It's 1949. Finished with them, I take off
on a riverboat, down the Mississippi, looking for work.
On deck they got the Original Dixieland Jazz Band
doing "Big Butter and Egg Man."
A guru has the cabin next to mine and everybody
who visits him whimpers something terrible!
Stood on deck after dinner watching the clouds
form faces and arms. The Shadow went by giggling to himself.
An Illinois Central ticket fell from his pocket.
Snake Hips picked it up and ran.
Texas Shuffle, who sat in with the Band last night, this morning, dropped his
fiddle cases
in the ocean and did the Lindy all the way
to the dinning room.
I got off at Freak Lips Harbor.
Boy from Springfield said he'd talk like Satch for me for a dime. I gave him a
Bird
and an introductory note to the Duke of Ellington.
Found my way to the Ida B. Wells Youth Center.
Girl named Ella said I'd have to wait to see Mister B.
Everybody else was out to lunch.
In the waiting room got into a conversation. with a horse thief from Jump Back.
Told him:
My past life is a Saturday-morning cartoon.
In it, I'm jumping Rock Island freight cars, skipping
Peoria with Leadbelly, running from the man,
accused of being too complex to handle.
Sorry. Just trying to prove my innocence.
Meanwhile, Zoot, Sassy, Getz, Prez, Cootie, everybody give me a hand.
Finally, Mister B comes in. Asks about my future.
All I can say is, I can do the Cow-Cow Boogie
on the ocean and hold my own in a chase chorus
among the best!
Fine, says Mister B, you start seven in the morning!


Used with the permission of Copper Canyon Press, P.O. Box 271, Port Townsend, WA
98368-0271, www.cc.press.org




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