Drumming Pains


Listen to the pains of the beating drum
Mental Anguish
The sounds of a mind taking a beating
Sent to the ghettos, stripped from their kingdom
Its hide screams at every beat that comes
Rhythm & Blues; Pain never sounded so good
Embracing our culture, if they only understood
Heavy bass on the beat soothes my mind on these streets
Nighttime, my baby went to sleep on my heartbeat
Voluptuous hips rock to the heavy beat of the soul
Synchronized to the sound of its own
A powerful nation, the beat of its throne
An unstoppable machine feared cuz they know
That soulful beat passed down for centuries
Voices are heard from lungs never empty – full of life
These drumming pains have history
So next time you hear heavy bass or that bellowing drum
Listen to its spirt; that beat where I come from


  1. A.C. on November 27, 2017 at 12:11 PM

    I love this.

  2. Sarah S on December 4, 2017 at 10:02 PM

    I have been thinking about this poem for days now. Its rhythm has become lodged in my brain, and I keep rereading it to try to hold and grasp it in my mind. Reading this poem actually sent me down a rabbit hole of researching jazz poetry, since it is such a wonderful example of it. Over the past few days I read a lot of Langston Hughes’ poems, because he is one of the founders and, I think, best examples of jazz poetry, and just one of my favorite poets in general. Here is what he said about jazz: “But jazz to me is one of the inherent expressions of Negro life in America; the eternal tom-tom beating in the Negro soul—the tom-tom of revolt against weariness in a white world, a world of subway trains, and work, work, work; the tom-tom of joy and laughter, and pain swallowed in a smile.” I think part of why I love this poem is because it is so new and yet so very familiar, as though I’ve read a version of it before. I actually spent several hours trying to find a poem like it, so convinced I was that this poem was bringing up memories of another poem that I read years ago, whose words vanished from my brain but whose rhythm and message stayed with me. I could not find it, and it’s possible that it doesn’t exist. But I found a Langston Hughes poem that I wanted to share with you, not because it is extremely similar to yours, but because I think it captures some of the same feelings of mourning for a collective, stolen past and celebrating a people’s creativity and resilience. I hope you like it.


    I dream of the drums
    And remember
    Night without stars
    In Africa.

    I dream of the drums
    And remember
    Slave ships,
    Billowing sails,
    The Western Ocean,
    And the landing at Jamestown.

    I dream of the drums
    And recall
    Congo Square in New Orleans–
    Sunday– the slaves’
    One day of “freedom”–
    The juba dance
    In Congo Square.

    I dream of the drums
    And hear Jelly Roll’s piano
    Bobby Bolden’s trumpet,
    Kid Ory’s trombone,
    Sir Cyr’s banjo,

    The ships!
    New shore!
    And drums!


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