kamasi washington at sfjazz
changing guard twice a night
for the new year
his bookreading afro
holding in air
ready to take flight
like he got left
in space for fivehundredyears,
just now waking up to the havoc
we been reaping but
i don’t want to think about that
now i’m just trying to breathe
in all his sweetness, to grab
the notes that’re hanging like silk
so maybe somehow i can decipher
everything he’s bringing back with him
cause my god he’s reaching
back like back behind the back of the bus
i’m talking like waywayway back
past ra past monk past bird and
i just want to breathe it all in.
i’m tryna get high on this tonight.
so ima take the next shift
and keep watch til we slide
into tomorrow or tomorrow’s tomorrow
or til there’s no more brass to bend
and we can loop ourselves around
and do it all again, just like history. kamasi
let me breathe in your
kind of lowdown blues
the kind that’s pulling at the wind like
it’s the one that’s been doin you wrong
for the last fourhundredyears.
i mean damn, kamasi
lets all go back to
where you’re coming from
then maybe you’d be the one breathing me in
and not the other way around.
how about that
wouldn’t that be nice
to be wind.
k.lynn johnson is a queer black poet from the bay area. their work can be found or is forthcoming in Pidgeonholes and The Fourth River. they live and work in Brooklyn.
Image credits: still of Jason Holliday from documentary Portrait of Jason, Shirley Clarke, 1967. See clip here.