for Amiri Baraka


In the cherry oxygen

Of the Dharma Club,

Under whatever light

Can’t be kept

Out of mind,

I never look back––

What’s the use,

Find your truth

Got to turn it loose,

The whole

Medicine show,

Unknown unknowns,

The book of streets

& frequencies

No one controls

As we overturn

The barricades

Sure as the poems of

Amiri Baraka

Console the foot

That stumbles

But cannot sleep.


Aluminum curtains

Blow over the petals

Strewn across

The black parking lot––

The parking lot

Of time, with its

Ordinary roulette

& broken corners

& velvet salt of dreams

Into the green lantern

Of emptiness––

With its monsters

& sewers

Of all that has been

Strangely possible since

The very beginning

Unbothered by delusion

& never used up.


5 April 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.