"Midnight" Plays mid-night in the Middle of the Cacophony of a Bar I Frequent
for Tommy

So it was late one night in a sports bar &
	restaurant, the kind where the TVs are shiny black &
		hi-def & numerous, hanging on walls like finished
	framed tableaux in an artist’s studio, displayed
for the visiting curator who may or may not buy any of these
	finished pieces, but they’re showing all the highlights of our modern-
		day mass entertainments with the red & white team
	gunning past the blue- & white-striped lads playing the foot
ball you play with your feet & another screen
	with the blue & red guys smashing the black &
		silver fellows while they battle for the football you handle
	with your hands & on another screen the orange ball is stuffed in a hoop
& on another the stick hits the white ball & you can almost
	hear on another screen the grunts & racket of shuffling ladies from one
		side of the clay court to the other & there’s
	no sound from any of these screens, the aforementioned
sports bar opting to pump popular hits through the speakers
	& I’m sitting there, flanked by friends,
		fringed by friends of those friends & on the speakers
	I hear A Tribe Called Quest’s “Midnight” & everything
around me stops & I’m suddenly whisked back over 20 years
	to that night in my car where the CD player kept
		playing track after track on that album & our heads
	were nodding in unison & in synch we both bust out with
"Intensity, most rappers don’t see it / Spirit wise,
	musically you gotta be it!"  & I reach to turn down the volume
		& we both look at each other to agree that even then we
	felt a crisis in hip hop coming on & that our favorite
emcees & DJs weren’t getting the attention & accolades
	they deserved because lesser cats with weaker raps were easier to play
		on the radio & thank goodness we could hit the
	track back button & hear “Midnight” again or turn
to “Award Tour” as an apt send off as we leave the parking lot
	behind the theatre & turn north to take you
& it’s late in this sports bar & I think
		how long you’ve been gone & I try to remember our
	last conversation as I replay in my mind the montage
sequence of how we lost touch after leaving junior college
	& phone calls every couple of months changed to a couple
		calls a year & how we used to see each
	other every day & had lunch together often &
how we used to play the dozens between classes &
	before rehearsals & never worrying for one second that
		your your momma jokes or my momma jokes would cut
	to the quick & I think now that subconsciously
I carry on these quick quips with my sister & friends &
	co-workers in a nod to your absence though no one
		ever has the comebacks you did & some lack the good sense to
	remember it’s all in jest & just as “Midnight” starts
its second verse here in this sports bar with the blonde bombshell bartender
	whose bright white smile reminds me of yours I think about
		how great it’d be for you to be in the chair beside me
	egging me on to flirt with said bartender inflating the
courage & the ego in me the way my tall beer wouldn’t &
	I wonder if you’d be surprised at the intro-
		vert I’ve become & my tendency to sit quietly &
	observe & be Q-tip’s nocturnal animal & I think if
you were here we’d think about putting some poetry to a
	beat & then I remember that time listening to
		Guru rap about it being “Mostly Tha Voice” & you looking at
	me to say I had the voice & laughing & pumping
your fist before giving me a high five & that night is on
my mind, the night is on my mind, the sun’ll still
		& I remember I’m stuck in this sports bar late
	on a Sunday night & I’m two beers & two shots in, but
no one knows I’m back in that godforsaken East Texas
city pulling my own CL Smooth reminiscing over you because
	A Tribe Called Quest called you back from
		the past & here I am in that sports bar thinking
	how Boyz II Men told us how hard it would be
& how hard it is now to think that I never
	really told you & despite all these TVs &
		the eye-catching blonde pouring another pint, the night
	makes the aura, the sports bar the soundtrack & outside
the way the moon dangles in the midnight sky
and the stars dance around, hey yo I think it’s fly
	& I think the memory has that intensity, & I nod my head, still
		in unison to yours, thinking you’ll see it,
	knowing you’ll see it, & then I slow down as
the song fades into some more current obnoxious hit
and that night's on my mind
the sun will still shine
but that night's on my mind
& you still shine
and that night is on my mind
the night is on my mind
the night
This poem contains a line, and plays with other lines, from the song "Midnight" by 
A Tribe Called Quest.

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