Parlando : Selected Poems by Ray Clark Dickson

As the publisher and editor of this tremendous collection, I’d rather people purchase a copy of it from me — it’s always available from my ebay store. But here it is on archive. com, posted a couple years ago without my knowledge. So now everybody can read him. Good for Ray, one of America’s lost forgotten greats. Here’s one to grow on:

To All the Kids Down the Hall by Ray Clark Dickson

You could hear the old man’s

scratchy wind-up victrola coming down

the hall

to make the punkers sound seem tame.

He was polite enough to wait until

early afternoon before unwrapping his Jimmie

Lunceford 1938’s, “Miss Otis Regrets,” “Muddy

Waters,” “Margie & Coquette”

followed by Bix Beiderbecke’s waxings, 1924-1930.

It was when the hall got dark & a rim of light

came under his door, life still fizzed

in the old man – you could hear him

shuffle silently in carpet slippers across

the linoleum floor

dancing with an imaginary partner he called

Miss Phoebe.

Around midnight he put a towel under the door,

but Bessie Smith, Sidney Bechet, Tampa Red,

the Harlem Hamfoots & Jelly Roll Morton’s piano

came seeping through.

About four in the morning the old man

got down to business – Memphis Minnie, Ma Rainey,

Lonnie Johnson, Georgia White & Chippie Hill

on “Shove em Dry,” “Do Your Duty,” “Press My Button

(ring my belly)” …

One morning the old man’s needle got stuck

in a groove on “I Need A Little Sugar For My

Sugarbowl.” The coroner said the old man left

a handwritten note

leaving his record collection to all the punk

rockers down the hall. Guess there wasn’t

a Miss Phoebe, after all.

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