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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)

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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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