Dinner with the ghost of Lorenzo Thomas
He was wearing a dapper suit and midnight blue brocaded tie–no stripes on him.
There was a sparkle in his brown eyes/his ghost was most corporeal
You’re still curious about the world, I asked.
“Oh yes”, said he spying an Obama 2012 poster.
“Brotherman needs to keep smoking!”, he opined
The hole in his throat the size of a ballpoint pen.
“Reefer” I guessed. “Oh yes”, he laughed.
The digits of his spectral hands shook gestures
What do you miss, I asked.
“Skin, he says. I remember flesh
soft to touch or rough from scabs on shins
falling off bicycles and such. Tough
Life was/is tough. But you”, and then his voice
Muffled something meant for me, but
Oh Lorenzo, what did you say to me?
He chuckled, then rhymed
“The world is always spinning round like a broken toy you can’t shut down”
Light crosses the hole in his throat.
As if its speed has found just the right portal.
“Reefer”, he repeats. And we are laughing
I pick up the bill. It costs what it costs.
I pay what I can pay.
What was it he said, and why couldn’t I hear it?
Bet your beeswax who said
Bet your beeswax what is
Beeswax –how did it arrive?
What moist hands dropped it where and oh how
Clever to drink from a cup made of bets
On beeswax, crop dusters, gramophones
Huge things with gears and bolts a century of
Forget-me-nots plucked and placed in books
Biblical in manner the colors flat –one day
Fade away like a plume of smoke pretty sight
The mustachioed man the pretty desperate woman
A song between them, ancient, hostile heard long
After the first singing. The payoff made in amber.
Patricia Spears Jones is poet and playwright and author of Painkiller (2010), Femme du Monde (2006) and The Weather That Kills (1994) and three chapbooks. She edited Think: Poems For Aretha Franklin’s Inauguration Hat/ (2009) and Ordinary Women: An Anthology of Poetry by New York City Women (1978) and is editing 30 Days Hath September for the Black Earth Institute blog. Anthologized in Angles of Ascent; Black Nature: Four Centuries of African American Nature Poetry; broken land: Poems of Brooklyn, bumrush: the page and Best American Poetry, 2000. Mabou Mines commissioned and produced ‘Mother’ and Song for New York: What Women Do When Men Sit Knitting. Former Program Coordinator at St. Mark’s Poetry Project. Prose and commentary in Calabar, http://cultureid.com The Poetry Project Newsletter, The Village Voice, www.tribes.org, and Bomb, where she is a contributing editor. Poems and prose are featured in African Voices, The Agni Review, Bomb, Barrow Street, Calabar, Callaloo, www.kwelijournal.org, Fifth Wednesday, The Oxford American, The Southampton Review, and TriQuarterly. Awards from the NEA, NYFA, the Foundation for Contemporary Art, the Goethe Institut (Boston) for travel/research in Germany, and the New York Community Trust. She is a senior fellow at BEI and has read and taught at colleges, universities and literary centers around the nation.