song for the dead

eight grade our souls green opening
baskets shooting baskets dance
hips swivel with the feet chain
dance snowing seeds spring seeds
soul seeds under the cottonwood
eighth grade in your basement smoke
your father dead now dead now
it’s 1968 can’t let go
clutching slow dancing cottonwood snowing smoke
in the night freedom basketball light
shining above the backboard shining
in my eyes smoke
martin luther your father dead like any man
white or black doctor pediatrician smoke stopping
his heart luther take aim let go don’t look
back don’t look back
the screened in green fingers of our minds
probing the face of god clutched
clutched clutched and let go take aim backboard shot
in the night
smoke curling
into the basket into the light
dead like any man
not any man
smoke doctor pediatrician king
history dead hammock gone
and i can’t let go of eighth grade riding
in an open convertible
riding top down the first time
kissed slow dance in my basement don’t look
back you stood back from the kiss
holding my hand hollywood
gazing into my eyes basement
hollywood and i laughed i laughed i want to take
back that nervous titter thin white girl lips twenty years
twenty years i’ve wanted to take back that laugh
and finish that kiss still want to plant
that kiss
shot in memphis
and you doctor like
your father dead now dead father lost basketball lost
dance lost convertible lost cottonwood lost
hammock lost lost kiss let go let it go
don’t look back

wendy shaffer

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