When Ellis Plays His Saxophone

When Ellis Plays His Saxophone
by Latorial Faison

When Ellis plays his saxophone, 
the Heavens rain down a jubilee.  
It's summer time in Harlem.  
I hear Hughes, Basie & blues. 
Locke & James Weldon Johnson 
come writing, composing, singing, 
loving, hating, knowing every joy 
& pain, the black & white of it, 
bringing rhyme, reason, 
righteousness, revolution.

When Ellis plays his saxophone, 
northern lights shine on a dark South 
screaming & scatting Grandma’s song. 
White face becomes us coming 
into our own, brave, bleeding brilliance, 
strong, teasing talent into style, 
playing beats, christening chords & keys, 
stomping rhythms & strumming strings.

When Ellis plays his saxophone, 
I hear peace, dead peace, peace crying, 
peace living, peace lying out in the sun 
in search of blacker opportunities 
with its naked, uncaged, unswayed voice, 
its mixed history & pride, 
drinking up night as charisma, character,  
& charity join hands to set mourning free.

When Ellis plays his saxophone, 
miracles birth immutable genius, 
instruments speak & preach, 
melodic sounds rise up with tight right fists, 
a battle hymn to sing, to raise up dead poets, 
to guide today's Israelites through 
a new & improved wilderness.

When Ellis plays his saxophone, 
I am all the way live, every way colored, 
crimson, mahogany & midnight blue, 
reshaped, bronzed & smoothed into staccato, 
sharpened to crescendo, low notes, high notes & all. 
I am cleansed by the birthright of a freedom song.

Copyrighted 2015 Latorial Faison

Published in Obsidian: Black Literature in the African Diaspora

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