Evie Shockley is the author of the new black (winner of the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award in Poetry), a half-red sea, two chapbooks, and the critical study Renegade Poetics: Black Aesthetics and Formal Innovation in African American Poetry. Her poetry and criticism appears widely in journals and anthologies, and she currently serves as creative writing editor at Feminist Studies. She is Associate Professor of English at Rutgers University, New Brunswick.
to be continued blues
the old folks had it right: the darkness always
plays with the light. nappy curl of bessie’s voice,
springing through backwater blues, strong pulled-tight
spiral riding the plane that rocks upon the pianist’s
knuckles. moonfaced, the proof and promise of sun
shining out of her skin. when her vocal lightning
strikes, sorrow gleams and winks: the joke is on
tomorrow. forgotten knowledge leaks from r&b’s
rusty acronym. thought hip hop had leaped over
that lesson, but chuck d tucked it under a rhyme.
the old school had it right. our darkness always
shines out on its kin when it goes vocal. lightning-
fast lines link black butterflies to (who’s that) blues
ladies, or last trains leaving sundown towns to new
orleans’ no-buses going no-where fast. sky’s so
dark and bright. she wailed 911 a long time ago.