In my sharkskin suit drenched with sweat

I smile at the moon over 12th Avenue

& my sisters, the leaves,

That do not dim the red light bulb

Neither blest nor cursed by our secret telepathy.


It’s the last big jag, till the next one I had

With one foot on the rocket pad,

& the other disappearing like a miracle everyone sees

& looks around

& sees everyone else saw it too.


The watchman points down the alley

Of my nowhereness sure as couriers––

Three nights in the same clothes––

Never knowing what they deliver to the juke joint

Where you burn my body with tender moves.


There’s always somebody in a thousand gets it right,

Someone else after the thousandth time

Never gets it right at all.

I was born at four in the morning,

But it wasn’t this morning.


15 May 2001


Spoken word version from Emergency Juke Joint.

Copyright © 2000 by Jim Cohn.

Text from Quien Sabe Mountain (Museum of American Poetics Publications).

Copyright © 2004 by Jim Cohn.