Michael Harper


I have recovered from your blindness
so fast your arpeggios

the world of Toledo is in slow motion
for you are holding back

from all your classical training
the image of Fats Waller frozen

in the blows that forced darkness
into cranial blows irreversible

you are your own orchestra
soft periods in your program

hard as the massage of your countrymen
“please return safely to your kin”

for you are a patriot
no matter discrimination

the virulent embers classical
in your repertoire: Columbus

every enemy’s empathy concerto
every friend a suite sonata

they say you loved trains
(gondolas locomotives a fuel line)

when you died in 1956
a whole cavalcade came with you

Robinson retired
Mays carrying his team

your love of baseball
in the signs missed and missing