photo of Justin Hamm by Mel Hamm
To a Folksinger Just Arrived
by Justin Hamm
Whisper salutations to your irises
and tie those strange ornaments
into your hair. Crawl from your
Volkswagen into the sweltering city
and pluck something evangelical
from your book of songs. Strum
your dulcimer and enunciate as if
to blow life back into fried chicken
or restore the red to petrified roses.
Give them mystery, ancestry.
Give them not too much skin.
Yours, never forget, is the music
of freight trains and holyghosts.
You need only the lungs to drown
out the daily discord, the ambulances,
the ring tones and the burglar alarms,
and the city will place its heart
on the steaming asphalt and ascend.
* * * * *
[“Uncle Fat Elvis” (c) 2013 by Justin Hamm, from his new chapbook The Everyday Parade / Alone With Turntable, Old Records (published by Crisis Chronicles Press). The poem was first published in Sugar House Review.]
Originally from the flatlands of central Illinois, Justin Hamm now lives near Twain territory in Missouri. He is the founding editor of the museum of americana and the author of the chapbook Illinois, My Apologies (RockSaw Press, 2011). His work has appeared, or will soon appear, in Nimrod, The New York Quarterly, Cream City Review, Spoon River Poetry Review, Sugar House Review, and a host of other publications. Recent work has also won The Stanley Hanks Memorial Poetry Award from the St. Louis Poetry Center, been featured on the Indiefeed: Performance Poetry channel, and been nominated for the Best of the Net Anthology and the Pushcart Prize. Justin earned his MFA from Southern Illinois University Carbondale in 2005. The Everyday Parade / Alone With Turntable, Old Records is his second chapbook.