Always in the Black

Does the music take you back?
Deep into the tunnel,
Can you see the next rung?
Past layered fishes
scattered flat dinosaurs
tar pit babies.
Before we lose the rhythm.

(John Henry swings the hammer/
takes you six feet down)

No cool sewer sax
under crust-and-mantle
movable pates of earth’s skull.
Fire consumes the brain.
(The next rung’s hot.)
Before we lose it:
The cha cha through.

Past molten blood to a searing white center:
no green mambas slither hot coals.
But the end of the ladder:
always in the black.

(Coal’s going to be the death of me O Lord/
“          “       “    “    “      “       “   “ )

© Katherine Gekker, 1979 (Originally published in “Positively Prince Street,” 1979.)

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