Out back of Pittsville, down by the lumber tracks
Trains have stopped coming since top-hats and beards
Swore to give us all the three wishes we wanted and
Even keep good on them. The chronic shanty towns
Live for less and less each day. Dying out and drying up
Have become the twin dogma for living between
The cracks. The hobo jungle fires lick up the face
Of night, hungry for a story. “I’ll tell you,” says
A black man, his face abloom with flame. “But afore I do,
You gotta go and pass that bottle thisser way.”
An amber genie squirms down through the bottleneck,
Pushing desperate against his mouth, wanting in.
The man sucks his teeth, grimaces, and holds deep fire.
“Ah, that’s a poison for you! Keeps the passions
Right in front of you so you gets to check ‘em square!
“So, yeah, I seen paradise at hand in a dimity brassiere.
All fancy edged in silk and lacey daisies swelling tight, see?
And all holding back some holy mountains of revelation!
“But she was foregone, see? Her dark forest of hair –
Her fine china skin, see? Some women like that are like
Tabernacles ain’t no black man ever goin’ to get to touch –
“Let alone enter. But mercy! Those nipples! Whoo!
So hard at pressing me – so soft in that cotton finery.
She’s never telling, she say. A favor’s all, she say. Well…
“Won’t no favor no how, but like I says, hard and soft,
I thought they wanted some touching – wanted being free
Is all.” Again he grabs the bottle with nimble stumps.
“Nope, I’d say no nigger ever found paradise in cotton.”