Spirituals

Smuggled over the border
in the throat of slaves
hummed loose in the fields
as soft as cotton balls.

Stuffed into saxophones
and blown out
time and again
on fountains of air.

Captured and hung on lines
like laundry
dripping with black notes.

Brought into concert halls
dressed up in tuxedos
bouncing off the walls
drowned in a red curtain call.

The Organist

In the cockpit surrounded by a thousand blinking lights
he revs up the engine until music shoots out from pipes
like exhaust fumes that fill the stained-glass hangar
crowded with souls, raptured
as the nimble pilot abandons his dotted map
and improvises us into virgin territory.

—from a series of Monthly Notes that explores music, curated by Jared Pearce

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