|from Picnic on the Moon
by Charles Coe
Get on Up!
Can anybody else here say that
in the summer of 1967,
when they were fourteen years old,
their mama took them to a James Brown concert?
Did you walk alongside her
Through the gates of
A minor-league ballpark
On a hot, cloudless Indiana night
When the moon shone like a spotlight
On the rough wooden stage?
Was anybody else here sittin' beside their mama
On those hard benches
When James's band, the Famous Flames
Came out to lay down
A red carpet of funk
And the announcer whipped that crowd
Like a bowl of black cream
'til the Godfather of Soul finally skated onstage
like a waterbug,
tellin; everybody 'bout his brand-new bag?
If your mama yelled like everybody else,
Then let it now be told!
Let everybody know how
She clapped her hands raw
As James flew back and forth across the stage,
Sweat and grease from his conked-up hair
Pouring down the front of his ruffled shirt,
Purple satin jacket ripped off and tossed aside.
Let everybody know how she stomped her feet
When he grabbed that mike like a dog grabs a bone,
Fell to one knee,
And begged for: "just one more chance,
Baby, baby please,"
And then when he finally rose, shaking and spent,
And someone tossed a robe over his sloping shoulders
And helped him trudge offstage,
Did your mama scream when he suddenly froze
In his tracks -- as if struck By the Holy Ghost--pulled away
From his helper, tossed that robe aside,
And ran back into the spotlight?
And is there anybody else
Whose mama popped out of her seat
Like a piece of toast
When the band scratched out the opening licks
Of "Say it Loud, I'm Black and I'm Proud?"
And did she scream herself hoarse shouting out the chorus,
While James, wearing a coast to coast grin,
Held the microphone aloft to gather in the music of the crowd?
Was your mama there? Then stand up and testify!
Get on up! And Shout it out!
Picnic on the Moon
Publication Date: April, 1999
$12.95 Paperback Original
80 Pages / 5.5 x 8.5