Saturday, April 24, 2010

Brothers James Brown and Jean Jacques Rousseau

The Social Contract, uh uh uh uh

for James Brown

To incite insurrection, and
our fragile halfway-house bodies
rehabilitating–by the will
of God and the will
of self–instincts and
visions clear as Rousseau’s
(you should have sung his lyrics:
Man is born free, uh uh uh uh,

yet everywhere is in chains, huh);
to baffle the thick–
you kept the message simple.
Get up, uh uh uh uh,
get on up, you commanded,
leaving us dumbfounded
we even once disbelieved.
You reinvented insurgence,
argued for us to glide past
power and ownership.
Get on up, you demanded,
join the midnight-hour dance.

After the great James Brown passed on there was a call for submissions for an anthology to honor him, Say It Loud. I wanted to be part of the tribute but didn't think myself capable of writing occasional verse--a poem "on demand" or for a specific occasion. I tried and tried and failed and failed. Near deadline I was in a coffee house when "Get Up (I Feel Like Being a ) Sex Machine" came on the music system. If that song doesn't move you, unmoveable you are. I wrote this.

By the way, the Rousseau quote should be read: everywhereisinchains! HUH.

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