For Those Who Were Teenaged Prince Fanatics Like Me

The Death of Soul, a Remix

I've decided to marry a treble clef or break beat
men, sex, music are that intertwined in my life
me and my future husband will speak exclusively in song lyrics
or island patois, pidgin, rien que Anglais, unless it's rhythmic
like: you're jinglin' baby/go 'head baby
you're jinglin' baby/go 'head baby

I blame this alchemy of men and music on my childhood
which rocked with tambourine shakes, doo-wop harmony
and in every other house lived a slick-pretty man who could sing.

Men with bass-guitar voices, men inside pyramid homes, men
driving Cadillacs glossed by the moon. How could I not be
peculiar? Post-Motown Detroit, air still ripe with miracles
and temptations and me with wild, flapping feelings
between my nine year old thighs.

Then 1977, he arrived.

He was guitar riffs and wanton falsetto, everything I felt
but could not express, only knew it when I heard it
like when his anthem spun soft and wet on FM radio.

My best friend's daddy, who sang backup, didn't like him.

Pornographic, her daddy said. The devil, Mama would say
but what did they know? My girlfriend's daddy kept
women vacant as Smokey Robinson's house and
Motown was dead at the edge of a continent--
the pious heel-spins by suited men, cliches
we no longer used.

I tape-recorded my love's voice, carried scrolled parchments
with his songs, memorized his impish face. He was what it
meant to be young and hot, to be distilled between
the rub of bricks, Funk and your parents' social movements.
He was North American royalty, was cravings
unsheathed, the center of a flower,
seduction as a principle.

Nothing is permanent.
Not neighborhoods or soul music.

Even my history of lovers mimics staccato:
I've loved dozens of dark, polished men
who were abruptly gone

--copyright Renee Simms, from Mischief, Caprice, & Other Poetic Strategies (Red Hen Press 2004)