Patridge Boswell

Ode to My Dap
January 25, 2018 Boswell Patridge

Ode to My Dap

 

Soon as I get my dap down
I’ll ride uptown and find an
all-night salon where Yvonne
will synth my Brylcreem with
Afro Sheen, my flat-ironed world

with Jheri Curl. I’ll wheel and
burn my way to the back of
Ezekiel’s bus where all of us—
not just us but all of us
wait to give our seats up

to the next mother child or
terra-phile with feet. I’ll get off
at one hundred twenty-fifth street
where love will come to town
unabashed and beautiful, not on

the back of some TED’s force-fed
homily but on opalescent hominy-
wings of an actual angel, soon as
I get my dap down. Aretha, Whitney,
Mahalia, Marion, Beyoncé, Billie…

rising in a clarion chorus—a riff’ll
split wide open the moment they
reveal before us life in the key
of song. Soon as I get my dap down
I’ll belong. I’ll rewrite her/history

on my palm, undam the rivers—
no more sitting & weeping on
the banks of Babylon. I’ll remove
these hands from my throat and use
them for their intended purpose—get down

to what matters most, not the shade
of lives but the blood of one note
running spilling bluing through them.
Soon as I get my dap down, I can
get my rap down: I’ll come back

to tell you all, I shall tell you all
the crap I learned in high school,
the lies I try and can’t forget, still
tasting the saccharine sweat of my
forebears when nothing sweet came

of Cain’s descent. You can bet
the pump’ll shudder and resist,
gutter and ball its fist before it
draws blood not from skin
but from a deeper well…

The water hole we share will help
get my head around how the zoo
we’re caged in not only caged
us apart but labeled the cages
around our hearts in Latin.

Soon as I get my dap down—
my litany of digits fisted and
free my hand-dance hello to me-
not-me my synchronized solidarity
my brother my self my time out

taken to get to know my body
my other my soul my word up yes
but first the whole of my mother
not just her tongue: the dream
I’m coming from rolled into one

bump slap skin snap fly dancing
light as a Jesus bug on water
fish bite duck bill cap…soon as
I get my dap down, I’ll fold you
into a hug. Let’s shake on that.

 

 

 

Recipient of this year’s Edna St. Vincent Millay and Red Wheelbarrow Poetry Prizes, Partridge Boswell is the author of Some Far Country, winner of the Grolier Poetry Prize. His poems have recently surfaced in The Gettysburg Review, SalmagundiThe American Poetry ReviewGreen Mountains Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review and Forklift, Ohio. Co-founder of Bookstock literary festival and the poetry/music group Los Lorcas, he teaches at Burlington Writers Workshop and lives with his family in Vermont.