Chuck Berry is a Poem (by Cornelius Eady)

Chuck Berry

by Cornelius Eady

Hamburger wizard,

Chuck Berry

Chuck Berry

Loose-limbed instigator,

V-8 engine, purring for a storm

The evidence of a tight skirt, viewed from

the window of a moving city bus,

Yelling her name, a spell, into the glass.

The amazing leap, from nobody to stockholder,

(Look, Ma, no hands), piped through a hot amp.

Figure skater on the rim of the invisible class wall,

The strength of the dreamer who wakes up, and it’s

Monday, a week of work, but gets out of bed

The unsung desire of the check-out clerk

The shops of the sleepy backwater town,

waiting for the kid to make good,

to chauffer home

The twang of the New Jersey turnpike

in the wee, wee hours.

The myth of the lover as he passes, blameless

through the walls.

The fury hidden in the word almost.

The fury hidden in the word please.

The dream of one’s name in lights,

Of sending the posse on the wrong trail,

Shaking the wounded Indian’s hand, a brother.

The pulse of a crowd, knowing that the police

Have pushed in the door, dancing regardless

The frenzy of the word go.

The frenzy of the word go.

The frenzy of the word go.

The spark between the thought of the kiss

and receiving the kiss,

The tension in these words:

You Can’t Dance.

The amazing duck walk

The understanding that all it’s going to take

is one fast song.

The triumph in these words:

Bye-bye New Jersey, as if rising

from a shallow grave.

The soda-jerk who plots doo-wop songs,

The well-intentioned Business School student

who does what she’s told, suspects

they’re keeping it hid.

Mr. Rock-n-Roll-jump-over

(or get left behind),

Mr. Taxes? Who, me? Money beat,

Money beat, you can’t catch me,

(but they do),

A perpetual well of quarters in the pocket.

The incalculable hit of energy in the voice

of a 16 year-old as her favorite band

hits the stage,

And 10,000 pair of eyes look for what they’re after:

Cornelius Eady

Cornelius Eady


And 10,000 voices roar for it:


And a multitude you wouldn’t care to count

surrounds the joint, waits for their opportunity

to break in.

[Cornelius Eady teaches at the University of Missouri]


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