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Recorded for Poem-a-Day, April 6, 2016.
About this Poem 

“John William ‘Blind’ Boone was one of the most successful pianists of his time. His motto, ‘Merit, not sympathy, wins’ guided his path through music and life. The haiku here are labeled with the notes of Pentatonic Blues in C.”
—Tyehimba Jess

Blind Boone’s Apparitions

John William Boone (1864-1927) world-renowned Ragtime                pianist.

C

my motto for life

                      - merit, not sympathy, wins-

                                              my song against death.

E♭

i stroke piano’s

                           eighty eight mouths. each one sings

                                        hot colors of joy

                                                                                                 F

                                                                                     pentatonic black

                                                                 keys raise up high into bliss,

                                                 born to sing my name

                       F#

                    whippoorwill, hawk, crow

                                   sing madrigals for blind men.

                    forests blooms through each note.


                                   G

                               my eyes: buried deep

                                             beneath earth’s skin. my vision

                               begins in her womb.


                             B♭

                         darkness sounds like God

                                             flowering from earth's molten tomb...

                         writhed wind. chorded cries.

C

rain, flower, sea, wind

           map my dark horizon. i

                                              inhale earth’s songbook

 

Copyright © 2016 by Tyehimba Jess. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on April 6, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2016 by Tyehimba Jess. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on April 6, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.

Tyehimba Jess

Tyehimba Jess

Tyehimba Jess is the author of Olio (Wave Books, 2016).

by this poet

poem
Carved Marble. Edmonia Lewis, 1875
 
My God is the living God,
God of the impertinent exile.
An outcast who carved me
into an outcast carved
by sheer and stony will
to wander the desert
in search of deliverance
the way a mother hunts
for her wayward child.
God of each eye fixed to heaven,
God of the
poem

the war speaks at night
with its lips of shredded children,
with its brow of plastique
and its fighter jet breath,
and then it speaks at daybreak
with the soft slur of money
unfolding leaf upon leaf.
it speaks between the news
programs in the music
of commercials, then