Cannonball Adderley/Teri Elam




on contemplating the definition of shift


                              after the work song


                             dem bones, dem bones gonna rise again –james weldon johnson


shift [shift]:

1: to transfer from one place to another; to exchange something for another

2: a group scheduled to work during a time

3: to put aside, replace something with another

4 a change in direction; a transformation in attitude, judgment, or emphasis



us bones be stolen   yank-shifted

afore yemọja’s eucalyptus-salve psalm-hymns

dreads away   be heap-piled chattel

neck-shackled   stacked and stacked and stacked

be fire-branded-ash   bid-sold cheap—  

us bones be forsaken




us bones be weal-tree-branched

back-break-shifting sunrise to sundown

picking tobacco   slicing cane   be whipped-

lash-pained—   chained-down lo(o)sing free

be bleeding sickled   ice-cold—  

us bones be gasping sun




us bones be bowed-down-kneeling

praise-worship hushed   praise-worshipping

orishas past dusk   be body-drumming rhythm        

foot bones shift-shuffling   hand bones clap-shouting  

be hum-calling god    sing-calling goddess—  

us bones be unshaken




us bones be shift-telling newfangled truth  

griot-riffing to be (free)   wind-dancing ether  

across quilt-mapped passageways   be faith-migrating

by twilight   whispering secret tongue(s)

be (un)bent and mighty   yes! mighty resolute—  

us bones be rising up.






                        after autumn leaves


                       deer hunting is sport hunting, dating thousands of years. there are numerous

                       types of deer hunted throughout the world.  --wikipedia


                      headline in the augusta, georgia metro county courier – june 4, 2015:

                      “photo shows cops posing with rifle over black man in antlers”


autumn leaves fall

autumn leaves fall

autumn leaves fall    


like deer-hunted black bodies         fall

black-bodied-women                        fall

black-bodied-men                             fall

black-bodied-boys                             fall

black-bodied-girls                             fall/dragged/sat on/bagged


emmitt till                   fall                   rodney king      fall

kathryn johnston       fall                   rekia boyd         fall

yvette smith                fall                  oscar grant       fall


no matter?                  we run                                               

we run to escape the hunter’s aim               

we run                        no matter?                                           

we cannot escape the hunter’s aim


tamir rice                    fall                   aiyana jones     fall

trayvon martin           fall                  michael brown  fall

freddie gray                fall                   sandra bland    fall


deer-hunted black bodies                 fall

black-bodied-women                        fall

black-bodied-men                             fall

black-bodied-boys                             fall

black-bodied-girls                             fall/dragged/sat on/bagged


like autumn leaves fall

autumn leaves fall

autumn leaves— fallen.





learning how to pray


                           after mercy, mercy, mercy


                          do you hear me--do you feel me--we gonna be alright –kendrick lamar



breath(e)                    adoration


dear lord,

prostrate        praise

exalt                elevate

(i) believe       relief;


breath(e)                    confession


o lord,

ire                    fury

tired                wavering

forgive (me);


breath(e)                    thanksgiving


my lord,

blessings        grace

glory               joy

gramercy          jubilee;


breath(e)                    supplication


yes lord,

have mercy   


lawd hamercy (on me);        




hamercy lawd!

have mercy



mercy (me)



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