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By Terrance Hayes

I said Folk was dressed in Blues but hairier and hemped.

After “We acoustic banjo disciples!” Jebediah said, “When

and whereforth shall the bucolic blacks with good tempers

come to see us pluck as Elizabeth Cotton intended?”

We stole my Uncle Windchime’s minivan, penned a simple   

ballad about the drag of lovelessness and drove the end

of the chitlin’ circuit to a joint skinny as a walk-in temple

where our new folk was not that new, but strengthened

by our twelve bar conviction. A month later, in pulled

a parade of well meaning alabaster post adolescents.

We noticed the sand-tanned and braless ones piled

in the ladder-backed front row with their boyfriends

first because beneath our twangor slept what I’ll call

a hunger for the outlawable. One night J asked me when

sisters like Chapman would arrive. I shook my chin wool

then, and placed my hand over the guitar string’s wind-

ow til it stilled. “When the moon’s black,” I said. “Be faithful.”

Terrance Hayes, "New Folk" from Poetry Magazine (Chicago: Poetry, March 2008).

Source: Poetry (February 2008)

  • Activities
  • Arts & Sciences
  • Social Commentaries

Poet Bio

Terrance Hayes
Born in Columbia, South Carolina, poet Terrance Hayes earned a BA at Coker College and an MFA at the University of Pittsburgh. In his poems, in which he occasionally invents formal constraints, Hayes considers themes of popular culture, race, music, and masculinity. See More By This Poet

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