Poem for Mahalia

Move On Up A Little Higher

I shit you not
I sat down
put on the headphones
and slapped the needle
down. and
had a spiritual experience:

hearing Mahalia
feeling Mahalia…
but not just in some
simple, auditory audience
way, not just receiving


I channeled a spirit.
Moved up on higher

swept up to the clouds
of the gods
upon the warm updrafts
of her vibrato

knowing all the words
as if I’d been in church
all this time {and I had}

the very sunshine
crept out of her throat
unleashed the power
of faith
to carry on

the foundation of strength
in her breast
that heaved upon
the weary cries
of so many ghosts
that spoke so clearly
in her call
a call to peace
and light
as if Zora or Ralph or Ishmael
had taken
another path in life

the path of swing
gradually, yet surely
firing towards
the sky

the truest of Cupid’s arrows


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