YOUTH DETENTION///(NAIL MY FEET DOWN TO THE SOUTHSIDE OF TOWN)

6. Underneath The Sheets of White Noise
The suburban skies
Crackled with the signal.
The national TV crews had descended
On the press conferences and vigils,
The food-court pundits at the mall.
She looked out
Through her frozen blue eyes,
From all the grocery-store checkout-line front-pages
At the tiny, grainy, black and brown faces
In yellowing flyers pinned to the wall.

Her objections are
Inspired, literate, brilliant,
In her cutting cadence, in her Northside drawl,
When Ms. England cuts her off,
Saying, “Girl, you’re just too loud!”
She has bowed her
Braided, beaded head back toward her notes, but
I can sense her shoulders slightly shake.
I can hear the tears tapping on the page.
I can see the ink begin to cloud.

The infield is thick with
Cries of “burnt biscuit” and “white chocolate.”
Then “bitch,” “bank account,” “peckerwood.”
I grow red in the stinging swarm of words
When somebody yells and points at the street.
There, like some old Western movie,
A few Mexican boys
Kick a ball into the park’s dusty fringe.
The posse turns from me to glare at the in-
Truders. I drink deep of the hateful relief.

Underneath the sheets of white noise
                    This city sings her multitudes,
Underneath the sheets of white noise
                    The verses long, the beats raw and loose.
Underneath the sheets of white noise
                    She sings awake her daughters and sons,
Underneath the sheets of white noise
                    And, at my very best, I’m only one.

You envision the
Raj’s stone halls, the dark, defiled Ganges.
She slaps the lectern.
Snow hurries past the window.
She points to the silent roar of burning widows,
Blackened figures on a bleached field.
Your thoughts turn south,
The crowd outside the hunched foodmart,
And that sagging copy of an old plantation,
Windows clad in pressboard, columns kudzu-laced.
Can the cornerboys speak?
Can the collegeboy hear?

Underneath the sheets of white noise
                    This city sings her multitudes,
Underneath the sheets of white noise
                    The verses long, the beats raw and loose.
Underneath the sheets of white noise
                    She sings awake her daughters and sons,
Underneath the sheets of white noise
                    And, at my very best, I’m only one.
 

Track Listing

  1. Breaking It Down!
  2. Sweet Disorder
  3. Good Old Boy
  4. Black & White Boys
  5. Whitewash
  6. Underneath the Sheets of White Noise
  7. I Heard God!
  8. Crooked Letters
  9. I Can Change!
  10. The City Walls
  11. Had to Laugh
  12. Nail My Feet Down to the Southside of Town
  13. Tongues of Flame!
  14. Trying to Ride
  15. The Picture of a Man
  16. Commencement Address for the Deindustrialized Dispersion
  17. Save My Life!