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Holy Blues and other poems


Holy Blues

Alvin Ailey’s Revelations

intense extensions along sheltering arms
bent spines, turned knees, high palms

impossible translations of journeys
by pilgrims of sorrow
and their burden of strange fruit

Contortions choreographing

pain beyond the covering tracks
of naked field spirituals

storefront sanctuaries
stubborn marches on Washington
the faith of holy blues and night club jazz.

Dance Hall Queen

Ocean shadows off the horizon

play themselves like archipelagos
or extending continents of forest

fictions of colored globes
imagined spaces without explorers
traders in ivory and bodies —

I am, she says, those myths and metaphors

aboriginal transcendent spirits
in hip-hugging torn jeans

taking all my green lights to swing
over the pedestrian crossing
under their narcotic glaze.



“I am old and in the company of shadows” (Dionne Brand)

existential, unutterable hungers
like homeless planets, drifting stars

at interstices of vapour worlds
like black holes of distracted hearts
opening in cosmetic theatres of inter-galactic dioramas

through sinuous mirages above desolate asteroids —

who, who will embrace you
in their orbit, fading comet?

who restless gnostic, persistent
veteran of “calligraphic shapes
of imagination”

will translate the far light of your hybridities?

John Robert Lee is a Saint Lucian writer. These poems come from a manuscript in progress titled Diary. His Belmont Portfolio: poems will be published by Peepal Tree Press in November 2023.
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