Home Masthead “Die I could, but not now, not this time…”

“Die I could, but not now, not this time…”


That I was and am and always will be… I suppose (no matter what they say)
Farwell… No matter what they say, I will be what I was meant to be…
Slave… Clown… ‘Fat little boy Black, come play your bass…’ Make them laugh
Not a care for the blues that I cry every time I pluck with finger or with bow
Not a damn I know… Nothing I do will dull all the pain… My people

Tossed around the deck beneath… there was darkness… I can see it
Though I was not there… The whiplash hits me every now and then even
When I share the bed with a beautiful woman… Not for this… Did I grow
To be Charles Mingus, Mama and Papa’s boy… Holy Rollin’ Terror
With the bass… With Blanton, and Pettiford… I once dreamed I would

Not just keep time… But keep the score… Write how we came to be
This way… spill my guts through these guts… Paint the picture, just
As Gauguin would have done, had he been blackened by God
And not the sun… If not for that stroke of your brush… Oh Lord
Would it have been possible to drink from the same well

As the white man with whom we share bread in these
United States of America? Did you not say the body and the blood
Is for everyone? Oh Lord then why is it like this for everyone
You burned black at one stroke of your broad brush
No more, or no less than the best of the rest… But only we know that

And you who do not show anyone your face any more… I would have
Shut my eyes and died a long time ago, except that I would wake everyday
Greeting the giant yellow sun that bathed my face with your gentle light
Giving me hope that everything would be okay… just the way I imagined
It would be… In my own naive sort of way… I suppose it was too much

To expect not of you but my brothers… black and white… Erectus and
Together the way it was always meant to be… But no! Not here and not
Now… Will there ever be a time when it will come to be? I doubt it
No matter how much the swingle jingle bleeboppin slipbabbatiboom
No matter – that is – all the jazz, from Buddy Bolden to Pops and Duke… Eric

Raul da Gama is a poet and essayist. He has published three collections of poetry, He studied at Trinity College of Music, London specialising in theory and piano, and he has a Masters in The Classics. He is an accomplished critic whose profound analysis is reinforced by his deep technical and historical understanding of music and literature.


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