Symphony of Soul

For Bowie State University's marching band

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the funk is percussive                        that Loud                             smell it

through the phone          stain teeth brown        they learn to count

5 to 6                       then 5 to 8                      then 1 to 4

90-degreed stairsteps     staccato a pointed toe            yard up and out

to midfield                     right angled             drummer’s lock

wrists twerking                                          popping off

at a steel mouth                                              katkatkat

doomba doomba                               call and response

tassle-topped, caped                      negriod, superhuemen

come to save us                  from stereophonic sound

note the origin             egungun egungun                             snare call

egungun                 to the ancestors                              egungun

the congo keeps it                       in the pocket                  the gansta lean

born from a left leg drag   under hollow bottomed   resistance cymbals slap

a hot greased secret                                tsst tsst                  on a symphony

of soul                       it’s that black                        it’s that gold

it’s the crowded              harmonies blaring                 from the stands

audience instrument            themselves oohhhh           talking out the side

a your neck                    a perfect storm                 when the horns

throat open-mouthed                                    vowels         a new aged spiritual

brass wailing       woodwinds whining up                 a monument to

negro american sound                    in the back yard                 in the junk yard

of national politics                                      a rare essence

they know                                my daddy’s name

so they know                                                      mine

keep us friends                           even after puberty’s

faultline trembles                         left us ready to brawl

can you hear it                  let them spell it                     out on the field

can you see it                  from the stands                             from orbit

the kind of praisedance                   that seeps into                               the blood

through the soles                  a funk spiritual                   that both shouts

and answers                           S  O  S       leaves metal on the tongue