An American Muse

I: An American Muse

hard enough being a black American ballerina,

during the rise of Western consumerism and its slithering hydra of racism

then to be beaten, drained and marginalized

by that American hero, artist, frontiersman

who showed the rest of us what to do with talent

but had no room to value hers, or maybe he

did and just wanted to lock it up and

use it to heal his own damage

over the city roof-tops

on a starry night, aiming that

one high note right through the bullshit

of historical rage and grief

he was that American hero who gave us a look at true wealth

beyond this earthly game

in a note, in a note, a note

that teacher of how to draw music from

every possible form; to always be

in a process of creation

always moving, renewing

our American anthems

just not for this woman he tried to marry


a girl born of beauty and colour

another set of jewelry to weigh down her wrists and neck

heavy lessons on an Aerial spirit

before she even knew language

that a commercial look was all the power

she would ever have – and should be more than enough

to satisfy her

stupid lessons that should have been

so familiar to her husband, but wasn’t

O dear Francis, how you could have shown us

what it means to rise and stand with the tallest grace

for a nation, for a people, for our moral salvation,


and why not, balance all of that

on the finest of a lady’s legs?

for there isn’t any girl who can stand on point

during the rise of Western consumerism

and its slithering hydra of racism

who doesn’t know

strength, discipline and I’m getting up anyway


have to be crazy to beat on a beautiful swan

and she was like a caged bird

never offered much of a story for herself and made one anyway

if he is one of our American hero stories, lyw

than what is she?

she, my dear, is the survivor;

the American muse


II: Miles Away

I don’t know what it feels like

to be a genius,

this man,

this black man growing up in a racist

middle class American society

this man who abuses women

this addict

this person with chronic pain

but he looks like

a human

with eyes electrified


American monster both good and bad,

a human in the past; a legend in the present

and a way to understand the future

male, black, brilliant, violent, angry,

juvenile, ageless creator of new music,

new paths to take us; new paths to make us

as flawed and perfect as we can be; monsters both good and bad


lit on music, on sound, on sending out his note

into his crowded world,

young men could find their own way in his shadow

women, too, unfortunately, in a different way,

was he so afraid of love, don’t tell me he didn’t understand

feelings; then, again, maybe he knew them

but never quite caught them

beyond the music

because he was so angry

for things that didn’t have

words in English, so he cussed and attacked like Caliban

an earth-bound spirit with one channel to let out

what can only be his untouched soul

moving through the soft and hard cancer cells

holding back the din

of the cities of consumption:

of wanting and having and needing

a domesticated, yet insatiable,

middle-class hunger


his humanity stumbled onward with crutches;

music cannot cure your psychology

when you use it as another drug;

a fleeting high, a live experience,

pure improvisation witnessed or even missed,

by a small room,

then gone, when gone,

who will remember when

the room goes cold


a man can’t play forever,

even and when with the first note,

he can invite us to take the same high with him away and away

again and again, forget our own wounded bodies and minds

into that  perfect and untouched soul


more important,

we cannot play forever,

cannot play this man’s judge, though he lived so big

we need to accept ourselves

as we truly are, outside of heaven,

on this planet Earth;

bring to our flawed heroes

bring to Miles

a little peace of our own


© lyw

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