Regarding the Conversation Between Black Body and Sound


By Cortney Lamar Charleston

Bone talks beat because the name they
took from me is the mating pattern of
fingertip and drum; because even a shackle can
                          sing in chime, or the black body
                          can become a tambourine, heart
                          beating against the beaten hide;
because pride must admit a handful of
quarters is a gracious mile more than
pocket lint; because my father lent me a nice pair
                          of shoes to go stepping at the high
                          school formal so the white kids could
see I had class; because I have been
doing this for many years and there
ain't been one class that I needed to
                          take; because Granddaddy is a Baptist
                          deacon decades deep and never felt like
                          a sinner for tap-dancing in front of me;
because my version of heaven is a
P-Funk concert on the dark side of
town and everybody takes a soul train all the way over
                          to that joint; because when riding on the
                          subway I hear the car, a mule with even
less free will than me, fighting to get
free on the track; because my peoples
be packed on them trains like multi-syllables in a bar of
                          rhyme that I be knocking head to; because
                          alcoholism don't run as thinly as the gin in
my family and I need something else
to do when my friends drag me to a bar;
because my homie is a b-boy and I'm not trying to get
                          clowned in front of all these fine women;
                          because if a man wants children he usually
has to lay a woman on them sheets
like an eighth, no – quarter, no – half,
no – whole note; because I have a whole band up in this
                           body, instruments of life playing inside the
                           ballroom of me and we need to fill it to the
walls; because a gang of ancestors dwell
along my red rivers, and they found the
time to dance between living and dying.


Cortney Lamar Charleston is an emerging poet from the Chicago suburbs, but currently lives in Jersey City, NJ. He is an alumnus of the University of Pennsylvania and its premier performance poetry collective, The Excelano Project. His poetry has appeared, or is forthcoming, in Control Literary MagazineGravelKinfolks QuarterlyLinden AvenueLunch TicketThe Missing Slate, and Specter.