You saw Big Mama Thornton
in her cocktail dresses
& cut off boots
& in her cowboy hat
& man’s suit
as she drummed &
hollered out
the happy hour of her Négritude

You saw Big Mama
trance dancing her chant
into cut body of
a running rooster
scream shouting her talk
into flaming path of
a solar eclipse
cry laughing her eyes into
circumcision red sunsets
at midnight

You saw Big Mama
bouncing straight up like a Masai
then falling back spinning her
salty bone drying kisser of music
into a Texas hop for you to
lap up her sweat

You saw Big Mama
moaning between ritual saxes
& carrying the black water of Alabama blood
through burn weeds & rainy ditches
to reach the waxy surface of your spectrum

You didn’t have to wonder
why Big Mama sounded
so expressively free
so aggressively great
once you climbed
into valley roar
of her vocal spleen
& tasted sweet grapes
in cool desert
of her twilight

You saw Big Mama
glowing like
a full charcoal moon
riding down
Chocolate Bayou road
& making her entrance
into rock-city-bar lounge
& swallowing that
show-me-no-love supermarket exit sign
in her club ebony gut
you saw her
get tamped on by the hell hounds
& you knew when she was happy
you knew when she was agitated
you knew what would make her thirsty
you knew why Big Mama
heated up the blues for Big Mama
to have the blues with you
after you stung her
& she chewed off your stinger
You saw Big Mama


–  Jayne Cortez, Somewhere in Advance of Nowhere