Photography © Kris Perry

Blood Held Tight in a Roach Clip

for Lloyd Ashley Pinchback

“Ghosts cannot slip back inside the body’s drum.”
–Yusef Komunyakaa, Ode to a Drum

Tall tales of these brothers score my youth. Nimble escapes from trouble—outpacing a twister with a
slick pigeon-toed two step. The dirt road and loaf of soda bread (or was it a blue tint milk bottle?)
the only things sacrificed to its funnel. Fortuitous stumbles into magic—an ear so tuned to pitch a note
fingered on flute mimics the tremolo of a loon the eye one breath from blindness fails to catch.
You should know I am song of Pinchback men. You should know I speak your name a ripe plum in my
mouth. Black, with skin rice paper thin and alabaster, your teeth cut on the heels of Jim Crow
licked by the fire of Black resistance.
It’s all in your music.
The rapid fire staccato,
bellyache scat of it,
clapback, gobbledygook, wah-wah
and mumbo jumbo of it.
the hum and the moan of it
the string, the reed, the bell
the play and break of it,
the giggle, snatch, and croon
curse, relent and release of it,
the flush of reefer, scald of hot water cornbread
bow-legged men and wide-hipped women of it
matted afros, back fat and lips
turned hot like sun of it,
“gimme five on the blackhandside”
hoof prints from the horsemen’s steed turned loose
its goddamned metronome
foot stamping into the flame once more and again
always in time of it.
Always in time.
You should know I am song of Pinchback men. You should know I speak your name a blossom on my
tongue because beauty is danger is art is danger is love is danger is—witness!—way through towards the
roar of the cymbal’s hiss hiss hiss.

Tzynya Pinchback is a mermaid and author of How to Make Pink Confetti (Dancing Girl Press, 2012). She is a staff reader for Lily Poetry Review and Cordial Eye Gallery & Artist Space Writer-in-Residence.

Kris Perry is best known for photographying the BOOMBOX an event in the Los Angeles Chinatown area as well as other club and concert venues. The photo here captures members of The Los Angeles Pramelettes Drumline. “I love capturing moment. Music and people in general are my major motivations. When I see people out and enjoying themselves and living life, I love to capture that happiness. At music venues the intensity of the DJ playing or the singer or rapper performing and sharing their craft with fans, those reactions are to me.”