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JAMES BROWN

Hearing Voices

 

Lindsay and I went to see Gil Scott-Heron
at the Brixton Academy in 1996.
Gil looked like a wiry old pensioner,
but in fact he must have been 47.
Responding to a cry from the audience, he leant forward
and cackled into the microphone
‘People are always asking
when’s the new album.
But you haven’t finished buying all the old ones yet!’
Spoken like a true poet, I thought.
Walking from the gig, Lindsay recalled
the frightening and particular smell
of burning cars during the Brixton riots,
and gleefully pointed out Electric Avenue,
made famous by Eddy Grant, and chanted
‘We gonna rock down to
E-lec-tric Av-e-nue’ as we crossed it.
This poem is simply to note that Lindsay and Gil
died within months of each other in 2011,
and that a person’s voice goes on without them
if you listen carefully enough.
And then we take it higher.

 

 

 

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