Poem for Michael Jackson, parts 1-9
i.[impromptu celebration of a life, via the Apollo Theater, Harlem]
You can see the hands
jutting, crisscrossed, zigzagged
into the air, tapering off the edge
of the camera,
five fingers part, a generation
of mimics, trying to reach out
to a ghost (far above us) in
celebration of a life.
This is where you started, they say,
this is where the break dancers
came with no warning to gyrate
down the sidewalks
as though this were a movie.
ii.[Billy Jean, south of 15]
That crisp sound (falling rain)
dances in the background,
as though you could deny the
or a voice that slides
from the edges of my
headphones like lace
with enough sequins to
keep me intrigued.
Enough strange beauty
to stop me flat in my
alone-dance to pull a pen
between my fingers,
Nothing reminds me of my
childhood more then
the first few
angry notes of this song.
He says: the fire's in their eyes, and beat it,
their words are really clear, so
just beat it
my father and I are driving
along the sliding globe of a sunset,
my hand tiny on the gear shift,
while he teaches me how to drive a stick
even though I haven't even
started kindergarten yet.
We are singing alone together, even
though I don't recognize the meaning
of the words jungle-gyming from my throat, and
my hands cover the steering wheel awkwardly
with his hands over mine.
No one wants to be defeated;
no line of verse could portrait out relationship more then that one.
iv.[Thriller, because, how could I not?]
He has a love affair with the moonlight,
with the way his jacket punches his shoulders
together when he moves
along the concrete, echoed by a league of
He was so beautiful back then, so unchiseled,
before the purchased points of his new face
scared the world away.
Drunken weight is like a cloak over a child;
his kiss could have been tender
or torturous, allegedly.
vi.[Will you be there, for Nana]
Your voice takes up the black space
of the ending credits of
Free Willy, a film Nana bought me
shortly before she died.
I still have the clamshell video
case tucked into a drawer - I will
never get rid of it.
This is the one song that I cannot
listen to without crying.
vii.[The way you make me feel]
He sings: Hey pretty baby with the high heels on,
and a volley of wedge tap shoes strike the floor,
my white silk skirt twists between my knees
while ankles sashay sideways, taking the hips
of the girl in front of me, and someone behind
the older boys in the back clap their palms
together, making the jazziest of decrees.
We changed the words to: 'You really move me along,'
rather then Turn Me On, because we were kids
but the audience buzzes with proud glee
while we sing the haunted lusty lyrics of
once-upon-a-time love, move our chests forward
in mock agony, hands up to our hearts in an exaggerated
the boys move forward, bow before us, fall to bended knee
to take our hands in closure.
viii.[Black or White]
They make us file into the auditorium
for another ridiculous Memorial Day assembly
where a hand full of kids bring in their
grandparents to talk about the war,
projecting the atrocities of the last 100 years
on a big screen, and I am always
asking my teachers tersely why we don't remember
the veterans of the Civil War, or the American
Revolution, or the war of 1812 - they after all are
They always raise their eyebrows at me:
Well, I guess no one's still alive from those
I roll my eyes, wondering if the generation
enclosed from the Iraq war will speak at the
assembles of my children.
This one, is different though, rather then
war stories the projector slams Michael Jackson's
Black and White on the big screen stunning
all of the side chatter
into a dull hypnoses.
For three minutes no one speaks; this music vided,
a cacophony of changing faces morphing into someone
else's, our quiet O shaped reflections dizzy in the
teach us more about equality then the realism of
ix.[Michael Jackson, in my car, June 26th, 2009]
He's in my car now, tucked safe and tight in
my CD changer, dead, but his voice still
fills the space up with sound.
I roll the windows down, on the fence about
his past, and what he may, or may not have
done, how he said he would kill himself
is he was not able to help the children of the world,
that he does what he does, because of them.
The song rises on the air away from me,
up to the sky. I sigh.