John Grey | Concert, Riker's Island

Concert, Riker's Island


Conga beat from basketball court
rocks the cell-block above.
Black guys in plaid shirts
and beards beat out their Nigerian roots.

Music. If you like it, it's an hour off for good
behavior that you make into a day or
a year of being outside all walls.

Every inmate's hearing it differently.
One guy's screaming, a bunch are dancing,
an old lifer, a new young intake, weep.

Polyrhythm bounces off the backboards.
Even guards tap their feet a little.

Juju, fugi, some gangan talking drum.
Bodies swaying. Heads floating free.
"Good for the inmates," says the warden,
like he's just recognized the name of the tune.


—John Grey

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