“Beat” by KF Frank

for Earl Lovelace

Beat the djembe. Beat the tassa.
Beat for the slave. Beat the massa.

Beat for slavery; indenture.
Beat for capture. Beat for rapture.

Beat for Ganges. Beat for Congo.
Beat today. Beat for tomorrow.

Beat the Niger. Beat the Cooum.
Beat for the bride. Beat for the groom.

Beat the blood of the rivers’ flow.
Beat the past the future must know.

Beat the dunun. Beat the dholak.
Beat the belly and beat the back.

Beat the table. Beat the tama.
Beat the beaten. Beat the drama.

Beat mouth open. Beat story out.

All o’ we is one.
All o’ we is one.
All o’ we is one.
All o’ we . . . as one.

K. F. Frank was born and raised in Guyana and teaches at Baruch College, New York.