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Wilderness, 2021. Acrylic and oil on canvas by Aaron Morse. Courtesy La Loma Projects, Los Angeles

Issue 119, Winter 2022

The Maple Leaf Piano Speaks to the Bayou Maharajah

for James Booker (1939-1983)

The stage is a red face
of wrinkles and you’ve returned
from Nice with no record deal.
The first time you vomited
on me I forgave you, wore it
like a brown dressing
from Commander’s Palace.
The second time you spilled,
blood swarmed
the cracks of my keys,
but you continued playing
in the slush. You backwards
Moses. I know it’s not the way
you wanted to mark me
but what do you have
left to give but the remains
of a sour stomach? I created you
to glorify me, to show the world
an addict in a wig could rattle
my body with divine imagination.
I handed you a soul that could not
be taken by anyone who fears
you. Booker, I want it back.

Karisma Price

Karisma Price's work has appeared in Poetry, Four Way Review, Indiana Review, The Adroit Journal, and elsewhere. She is from New Orleans and is currently an assistant professor of English at Tulane University. Price’s debut collection, I’m Always so Serious, is forthcoming from Sarabande Books in spring 2023.