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The Way They Moved

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Peter Lach-Newinsky



The Way They Moved



In the whorehouses on the dead outskirts of the River Plate, hard men invented the tango blind

      with the boredom of waiting for their taciturn turns of consolation & grind


In Rio’s pulsing carnivals rolling out from the lower depths regional black rhythms fused

     into pelvic ecstasies of sex & life that became the samba’s sinuous muse


In, yes, Perdido Street in1906 New Orleans five-year-old Satchmo watched, listless, from a window

     down onto poverty & nothing-new till one day from a corner Billy Bolden blew 


his party- & funeral-raising horn at the sky encircled by clapping, singing, dance, &, shaking                     

     with sound, almost fell from the window into his calling called jazz, soul quaking


with the bold cornet of a phantom called Billy soon sectioned in the Negro Section

     where he died unknown, unrecorded, round the time the Street crashed all connection,


the unemployed queued, workers marched into red, black or brown, & jazz 

     became big band, respectable & white.


When the black & white students of the sixties went south to sit-in segregated cafes

    & be fire-hosed or mauled by police dogs, a reporter held a mike to a local young black  

    & asked what had prompted her to join these blow-ins from the north:


    it was the way they moved, she said,

         the way they moved


In ‘68 it was somatic conviction that convinced our eye & gut

    long before any clever word hit the expectant brain, an inward dance propelled

    by black pulsations of hip & spine, the blues, rock-and-roll, the saxy free jazz

    of struggle that infused the opening horizons of our blue-note night


    it was the way they moved

         the way they moved


Even in the most rarefied branching of the live & leaderless symphony of the human tree

    poetry sings the melodic line above the sustained bass of sweat & struggle,

    toil & tenderness, debate & dance, moving like wheat fields in the cross-winds

    of history, memory, calm animations of dignity, upright refusal

    to doff caps, tug forelocks, sit at the back of the bus


    it was the way they moved

        the way they moved


Even through filigreed Bach, Beethoven, Schönberg, through Whitman, Rilke, Neruda

    the subtle ear may hear the thud of peasant feet, hammer & beat of working hands,

    poetic cadence in the rise & fall of civilisations, spiral dance of humanity’s long dark

    quest towards itself, driving propaganda of the lowly deed, feet stomping in struggle

    rock & rolling with the planet exfoliating its potentials powered by the progress

         of the cyclic sun revolving around nothing, no one, but itself


    it was the way they moved

         the way they moved



Even within the nine-second cage Mrs H. had to weld one

     of the three thousand one hundred & forty daily tubes,

     she had, over the dead vast of years, maintaining her piece-rate,

     found the tiny seed of freedom’s breath:  for a micro-second

     her arm & shoulder briefly winged upwards

     in one totally superfluous movement of her own


one invisibly angelic movement of her own




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