Don Wilsun Takes on Death
by Michael Hureaux-Perez
Don Wilsun took on Death last spring. Had we known of the coming bout, poor gamblers that we are, our money would have been on Don. But indestructible though he seemed, he did die, quite suddenly. It's taken many of us at least these six months since his passing to stop looking for him every time we pass the door of the Comet Tavern. Don Wilsun died. He stopped working. All of that rage, all that sweetness, all that bloody tough-minded hollering to the Old Black Folks is over with, and Brother Don is gone.
It would've been me, it could've been you...La la la la la la
So the hoodoo detail, other people attend to that now. No more the gumbo filÈ congas, no more the baited alligators. No more the klavÈ rap on the door that announces the unexpected visit, no more the drum brother telling you to quit pissing on your lifeline the third or fourth time you walked off a job in some fit of meandering pique. Brother Don is gone.
A shadow on the ground is bound to be found
Never spoke much about his own shadows, but they hung about his shoulders some days, the moments he would scowl at the world of formal Poe-ate-tree which couldn't quite get used to his ice house ways and self-defined chops. The temper tantrums that would blow up and then fall into that easy laugh, Big D, the mystery. Hidden sad boy who couldn't cut into the birthday cake.
How long you been standing in the rain 2 months 3 months 4 months?
Surprise pockets with small presents for the wife and little toys for the pets. Big hands holding squeaking frog toys out to inquiring feline noses, soft words in Cajunized French. Bad ass drawl telling the new guy on the site that he ain't laid off till the foreman says he's laid off, and Big Chief's the foreman. Stubborn macho sweating as he reaches for a six-eight rhythm played double time.
Covered black ash back on the ground waves creep out of the sea
And the waves did creep and wash him away to join Arkansas Andy and skinny Phil Perelson who are out there wherever the three of them agreed to hang and shout hey to soil turned over, having made bond and left the rest of us to look on, slack-jawed. One last tip of the Stetson with the turned-up brim, one last wink at the Redhead in the corner, a final chiming in with the songs of tree frogs, and off he went. Iko iko dom day.
He fought only to dream the 21st century Dared the realism of flowers
Whose very faces were beaten by rain His voice lifted after the showers.
Michael Hureaux-Perez teaches at the South Campus of the Middle College High School Program in Seattle. He is working on a draft of a semi-autobiographical (hence, semi-fictional) book about teaching in urban settings; and is busy spot-checking the libretto of a jazz-folk opera (Naomi) he composed with musician Christopher Plumridge. An avowed Marxist, he is an active member of the Worker's International League. He is the author of three chapbooks: Black Dog Blues (1992), Hallelucinations (1993), and Fool Moon Rising (1996), all published and distributed by nine muses books. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.