RIDING WITH BOOM BOOM by George Wallace

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
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 & before
they moved away.
He liked his chopper
he liked his Jack Daniels
he liked his bass guitar
& he liked his kids &his friends
& a woman or two
& he liked putting on his
riding gear & going out into
the Long Island Expressway night
to Ride Baby Ride!
& the cops say they didn’t target him
& the cops say they didn’t track him down
the cops say they were just
protecting the public when
they came to his house
to haul him in, said
someone phoned &
told them 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 & the booze
& the passing lane just
aren’t enough &
you have got to get
away from the pain
of living in this 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 the doctors do their job
like the liquor & motorcycles
& 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
against a bunch of cops.
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 Boom Boom.
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 where you’ll
be or what you’ll be doing
Tonight. But as for me? I’ll be
riding with Boom Boom.
Getting irrational.

____________

 

George Wallace is writer in residence at the Walt Whitman Birthplace. He read this title poem for his 2014 Nightballet Press book ‘Riding With Boom Boom,’ (first appeared in John Burrought’s Crisis Chronicles) on Saturday night at the KC Poetry Throwdown.

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