A Background In Music

music city u.s.a. it was, nothing doing without a song,
and not just twangy tunes that rhyme southern drawls
with guitar strings, though it's true i knew charlie pride
before charlie parker, but music, music, music, broadway
numbers (one! . . .) broadcast over speakers in the park,
pointer sisters fingering ohio players on the school bus,
the elementary chorus performing a patriotic medley
for the bicentennial, the high school madrigals wringing
the carol of the bells out of our overworked throats each
december, WVOL simulblasting car wash or little red corvette
out the windows of every deep ride rolling in the black
neighborhoods, melodies to carry over the clap*slap*snap
of our hands clocking time (miss mar-y mack mack mack)
or to keep us out of trouble with the jump rope, pep squad
cheers to perfect, spontaneous spirituals in the church
parking lot, and, yes, some country, the mandrells, the oak
ridge boys, tuning in to hee-haw's banjo humor and gloom,
the music was howdy and whassup, hell naw! and aw yeah!,
merry, happy, baby-baby, and god loves you if no one else does:
to ourselves, to applause, in talent shows, in choirs, on cue
and (mostly) in key, we sang everything there was to say.

by Evie Shockley

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