Master of the Dance

 Master of the Dance

Hidden in history’s huts,
the beat rises –
hands become drums,
servants master their bodies
manoeuvre and slide secret
coded rodas to
free the slaveself
from shackles

break the Cakewalk
topping of sugarsweet
blackgold sold to stiffen
the upper lip

Fight dance macabre
out of huts of history
flappers flap,
plantations slap slaves
slap back, dance as
the whip cracks-a-way
smacks the Black Bottom
with Charleston flicks as
Lindy hopping white women
kick away pencil thin lives.

hands clapping, rapping rhythms of life…

slavemaster stabs a steak through
cardinal dancing hearts –
take his clothes, strip his soul
stomp him down; but his burnet
blanket shining skin bounds and leaps
frisks and frolicks,kicks and screams

Gene Kelly singing in the rain
came from slave pain.

Caporeira do you dare
dance in shadowlight
cat-like whips and hisses,
razor blades grasped tightly,
silvery toes glint and strike
fork-lightning flashes –
slashed in a blink of an eye
slaveprints shape new skies

Now the slavemaster’s blighted
blackgold crops fight back.
It’s just a dance
dance, swish, kick
fat cat owl sees no pussy cat now,
twisted purrs,
contorted Houdini escapees
find the key,
hips slash and sway
as the juke box plays –
like last summer.

Language divides, bodies collide
in connecting ecstasy
and secret silent wars
masters swore to stop –
Achilles heel cut;
Let them never dance again.

And the masters sit on porches,
cocks in the hoop,
sundowner drinks clink,
night’s auric rush
sinks into sheltering sky

Yet faintly, in the distance
of deadly blackgold skies,
a sound that never ceases,
urgent as the first-
born’s heartbeat,
still, the tap tap tap,
drumming, endless thumbing
rolling spools of memory –
the slave dance springs
eternal, blossoming heat of life –

a drum a drum
the slave doth come.

 

 

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