Excerpt from 'Jelly Roll'

book.jpgJelly Roll

A Blues
By Kevin Young

Knopf Copyright © 2003 Kevin Young
All right reserved.
ISBN: 0-375-41460-6

Chapter One



Quite difficult, belief. Quite terrible, faith

that the night, again, will nominate

you a running mate- that we are of the elect

& have not yet found out. That the tide

still might toss us up another-what eyes

& stars, what teeth! such arms, alive-

someone we will, all night, keep. Not

just these spiders that skitter & cobweb,

share my shivering bed.



You, rare as Georgia snow. Falling

hard. quick. Candle shadow.

The cold spell that catches

us by surprise. The too-early blooms,

tricked, gardenias blown about, circling wind. Green figs.

Nothing stays. I want to watch you walk

the hall to the cold tile bathroom-all

night, a lifetime.


"Harvest Song"

Lover you leave me autumn, tilling, a man

tending his yard, or one not even

his own. Outskirts of town a farmer

one-armed, walks his fields into fire-my neighbor

on his knees with a razor trims his lawn. Next door

I am in the pines- grass thirsting, and up

to here in weeds- poison,neglect,

I have tried to forget- nothing works. Let

the birds rabbits termites have the run

of the place, the worms, I will take them in


"Elegy, Niagara Falls" for Bert King, d. 1996

Here snow starts but does not stick-stay-

is not enough to cover the bare thaw-

ed ground. Grief is the god that gets us-

good-in the end- Here-churches let out

early-in time to catch the lunch special-at my local

hotel. Sunday- even the bus boy has your

face. And still having heard some days later you

were dead- I haven't caught sight-day


Excerpted from Jelly Roll by Kevin Young Copyright © 2003 by Kevin Young
Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.