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  • Siren
  • Lynne Thompson

Eternally lured by calypso,   Daddy always wanted to return     to his birthplace, to the Mighty Sparrow.

He knew about heat’s seduction, about steel pans,   maracas, about the Canboulay, all     brewed in the Indies’ crucible of revolution,

underpinning the peg box and scroll   of a violin Daddy also favored—yes, Vivaldi!—     who (his sons said) couldn’t best Jellyroll

Morton and his hepcats blowing with the Nat King   Cole Swingsters in every California beer joint     until the money ran out; Sassy Vaughn singing

“Black Coffee” and “Nice Work If You Can Get It.”   Daddy admitted Duke and Roach (with his Jazz in 3 / 4 Time)     were superior to any minor minuet

but sometimes he had a hunger for a polonaise,   a Schoenberg twelve-tone, a Bartók sonata that     his daughter drowned out with Marvin Gaye’s

“Stubborn Kind of Fellow” and Dizzy’s latest platter.   Still, Daddy reminded us to kiss the ground of Port     o’ Spain where stick fighting’s clatter

gave way to fry pans and oil drums or   anything that could shimmy up a rhythm and     put a dip in the hip of a late-night worker

because that music had given birth to the flim-flam   artists his children were calling musicians—     men twisting their fingers so it seemed [End Page 104]

they’d forgotten bamboo sticks, jawbones and   Belafonte blowing into white America—Day-O!     and oh, we didn’t have a clue about the Akan

or any other African tribe who handmade the first banjo,   calabash, djembe, the call of Zimbabwe’s mbira,     the siren luring our father back to his calypso. [End Page 105]



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