George Wallace at The Lit in Cleveland – photo by JC 


RIDING WITH BOOM BOOM

The facts are simple
They speak for themselves
But facts don’t always tell
The whole story —
He was a bluesman
He played the blues
He was sixty years old
He lived alone in a
Split level shack in
Kings Park, Long Island
New York, with a ramp
In the front on account of
His bad back, and a maple tree
In the yard which his kids
Used to swing on when
They were little.
He liked choppers
He liked his Jack
He liked his bass guitar
And he liked his kids
And his friends and
A woman or two
And he liked putting on
His riding gear & going out into
The Long Island Expressway night
To Ride Baby Ride!
And the cops say
They didn’t target him
And the cops say
They didn’t track him down
The cops say they were just
Protecting the public
They came to his house
To haul him in, after
Someone phoned
and said he was
Behaving
Irrational.
Irrational.
Irrational to be
The person they don’t
Want you to be. Irrational
To refuse to swallow the
9-5 routine. Irrational to fight
The leather belt they strap you
Down with when the psych doctors
Come around to pick you apart.
Irrational to cut loose, to escape,
To be passionate, to ride out free
When the blues and the booze
And the passing lane just
Aren’t enough &
You have got to get
Away from the pain
Of living in the fucked
Up rational world.
Facts are simple.
They speak for themselves.
But facts are never enough
They just do their job
Like the cops do their job
Like doctors do their job
And liquor and motorcycles
And the blues do their job.
He was 60 years old.
He played the bass guitar.
Everybody says he was
Tons of fun onstage.
But sometimes the bass guitar
Isn’t enough to make the blues go away.
They took him in, there was a struggle.
So they say. He hit his head on
Something. So they say.
But what he hit his head on
The cops aren’t saying —
Or how a 60 year old
With a bad back
Can even put up
That kind of a fight,
or even try to run away
From the cops like that.
His name was Ports, Larry Ports.
That’s a good name.
It’s a simple name.
It speaks for itself.
But names are just facts.
All they do is do their job.
Names aren’t enough
To cure what ails you
In a fucked up rational
World. That‘s why his
friends called him
Boom Boom. That’s
How he rode. That’s
Who he really was.
Last week the cops said
Someone named Lawrence
Ports died. That ain‘t Boom Boom.
Boom Boom ain‘t dead.
The cops can‘t kill him.
All over America tonight,
All over the world,
Men will be riding
Motorcycles. Women
Will be getting tattoos.
Kids will be drinking Jack.
& bluesmen will be
Playing the blues.
I don’t know what you’re
Doing tonight. But me? I’ll be
Riding with Boom Boom.
Getting irrational.



* * * * *

George Wallace is Writer in Residence at the Walt Whitman Birthplace, first poet laureate of Suffolk County NY, and author of 26 chapbooks of poetry, including Poppin Johnny (Three Rooms Press, NYC ‘10), Burn My Heart in Wet Sand (Troubador Press, Leicester UK, ‘05) and Swimming Through Water (La-Finestra Editrice, Trento, It, ‘05). An adjunct professor with the English Department at Pace University in Manhattan, he is editor of Poetrybay, Poetryvlog, Long Island Quarterly, and co-editor of Great Weather For Media. George is a frequent visitor to the poetry scene in Cleveland, and has several chapbooks published through Green Panda and NightBallet Presses.

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