Compatible Poems

Slow Drag Dead
four black Cadillac
high black hearse
and all
the people come
to hear the trom
bone bawl
look at Slow
Drag picture on
the Wall
He call again
Sweet Emma come
Big Jim come when He call
then honkie play
and honkie plunk
in Preservation
–Miller Williams, “Alcide Pavageau,” from The Only World There Is

That note you hold, narrowing and rising, shakes
Like New Orleans reflected on the water,
And in all ears appropriate falsehood wakes,
Building for some a legendary Quarter
Of balconies, flower-baskets and quadrilles,
Everyone making love and going shares–
Oh, play that thing! Mute glorious Storyvilles
Others may license, grouping around their chairs
Sporting-house girls like circus tigers (priced
Far above rubies) to pretend their fads,
While scholars manqués nod around unnoticed
Wrapped up in personnels like old plaids.
On me your voice falls as they say love should,
Like an enormous yes. My Crescent City
Is where your speech alone is understood,
And greeted as the natural noise of good,
Scattering long-haired grief and scored pity.
–Philip Larkin, “For Sidney Bechet,” from The Whitsun Weddings

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