Atoms, Soul Music and Other Poems

atoms, soul music and other poems

Paris Review Press/British American Publishing


Soul Music

The Baltimore evening I saw
Otis and Aretha I knew
Kings and queens existed after all:
Something good and true and danceable,
The uncharted earthbound hit.

They said to believe and leap,
The nation no longer was diagrammatic,
Unsevered feeling fit
Into anybody’s skin.
Unthwarted sound was the test
Of embodied, unchurched progress.

Outside that night
Plate glass fractured like
A sobbing final tone,
A plea which brought white men
To the city on a Sunday afternoon
To watch the condemned frolic
At everyone’s expense.

Whole blocks burned gladly,
The stuff of democratic
Promise freely redeemed,
The grandeur of performance
Burlesqued by riot.

I, too, protested:
Hadn’t I been good,
Hadn’t I endorsed
Both sympathy and force?
Didn’t I love the music
As much as I could?

On the televised streets
I saw people dancing,
Souls on fire with a passion
That sang of days
No ticket could touch.

© Baron Wormser