Poem

Pres Spoke in a Language

Amiri Baraka

Pres spoke in a language
“of his own.” What did he say, between the
horn line
s, pork pie hat
tenor tilted
pres once was a drummer but gave it up cause other dudes
     was getting
the foxes
while he packed his tomtoms
“Ding Dong,” pres sd, meaning
like a typewriter, its the end
of this
line. “No Eyes,” pres wd say, meaning
I didn’t cdn’t dig it, and what it was was
lame, Pres
had a language
and a life, like,
all his own,
but in the teeming whole of us he lived
toooting on his sideways horn
translating frankie trumbauer into
Bird’s feathers
Tranes sinewy tracks
the slickster walking through the crowd
surviving on a terrifying wit
its the jungle the jungle the jungle
we living in
and cats like pres cd make it because they were clear they,
     at least,
had to,
to do anything else.
Save all that comrades, we need it.

Love what you've read? Subscribe to The Paris Review.