North

This is a love poem about youth, music, and accessing the impossible. I’m always trying to recapture those singular days or nights when we know in our bones that some significant change is taking place. Here I write about the first time I met the R&B superstar, Alexander O’Neal, and with whom my cousin Jeff Victor and I started playing when we were just fifteen.

Soul Star Alexander O’Neal

Weeks-old dishes stacked in the sink.
Bacon grease, egg shells, moldy turnip peels
and a derelict pitbull licking his balls.

I can see the two runways 
of the Minneapolis-Saint Paul airport out 
the frosted-over kitchen window.
Each new touchdown rattles
the sheetrock.

Jeff and I ride north, past state Highway 55
in the back of an Impala, full of smoke and young black men.

Standing near the front door at 1:00 AM,
the vibrations from Jimmy’s (no one knows his last name) bass amp escape from the window wells.

Downstairs in the tiny house
Alexander O’Neal and the Black Market Band play, 
eyes closed, as if in prayer,
tied-together like links in 
a chain of Rhythm and Blues.

I plug in my guitar 
and ease my way inside 
their groove.

I find something 
alive.

I close my eyes and breathe wonder inside me.

Image courtesy of Unsplash
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