Kevin Young


James Brown at B.B. King's on New Year's Eve


The one thing that can solve most

our problems is dancing. And sweat,

cold or not. And burnt ends

of ribs, or reason, of hair

singed & singing. The hot comb's

caress. Days after 

he died, I see James Brown

scheduled to play B.B. King's

on New Year's Eve--ringing

it in, us, dropping to the floor

like the famous glittering midnight

ball drop, countdown, forehead full

of sweat, please, please,

please, please, begging

on his knees. The night

King was killed, shot

by the Memphis moan in a town

B.B. King sang, Saint

James in Boston tells

the crowd to cool it. A riot

onstage, heartache

rehearsed, practiced, don't

be late or you'll be fined

fifty bucks. A fortune. Even

the walls sweat. A God-

father's confirmation suit,

his holler, wide-collared, grits

& greens. Exhausted

after, carried

out, away, off--not on a gurney,

no bedsheet over

his bouffant, his conk

shining, but, boots on,

in a cape glittering bright

as midnight, or it train. 

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