Oyster Boy Review 19  
  Fall 2010
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» Levee 67


Jack America

Mark A. Roberts

I want them to swing with your words,
Sing your jazzed jams,
Blow your holy horn
Tear the veil with a literary sword.

But how many years since
Your go's been gone?
Your be-attitude's been scat?
But, Jack, your gig-antic diary still beats, bops, and swings,
Even though most are deaf in a post nine-eleven scream.

In a Lowell deluge, you beheld the vision,
Saw in the flood that immense, immigrant capability
To drop Jean-Baptiste for Jack America.

Then, the horse of the apocalypse cantered in
When you bore the sight of your brother buried.

Those pre-drinksad eyes, that unbeknownst drunksad mind,
Tripped ahead in time, loaded up, slung Cody poetry
On the high, white literary walls—beat-graffiti.

But your angelic thunder, Jack, falls, I fear, on ears that cannot hear

      in a land were children aren't supposed to die, where honey-tongued
        mediums lick your lowly pilgrims, who wander, forlorn, down that
                  Huckleberry road toward what they're sold as freedom . . .

Tell me you got to some kind of freedom, Jack. Tell me.
Is the way to heaven through the rock of St. Pete?
Or achieved at the bottom of my drink?  I imagine you now
Leaning on the backdoor of heaven, instead of a bar—spirit-drunk.
Redressed, Jean-Baptiste describes, this time in God rather than Buick-speed,
The Prophecy of America. And the Apostles of Paradise weep
While all creation groans, and cherubs sweetly sing—

Woe, Woe, Woe to thee,
Falling down the dream
America! 'Merica! 'Merica! 'Merica!
A vain imagining . . .