"Midnight" Plays mid-night in the Middle of the Cacophony of a Bar I Frequent for Tommy So it was late one night in a sports bar & restaurant, the kind where the TVs are shiny black & hi-def & numerous, hanging on walls like finished framed tableaux in an artist’s studio, displayed for the visiting curator who may or may not buy any of these finished pieces, but they’re showing all the highlights of our modern- day mass entertainments with the red & white team gunning past the blue- & white-striped lads playing the foot ball you play with your feet & another screen with the blue & red guys smashing the black & silver fellows while they battle for the football you handle with your hands & on another screen the orange ball is stuffed in a hoop & on another the stick hits the white ball & you can almost hear on another screen the grunts & racket of shuffling ladies from one side of the clay court to the other & there’s no sound from any of these screens, the aforementioned sports bar opting to pump popular hits through the speakers & I’m sitting there, flanked by friends, fringed by friends of those friends & on the speakers I hear A Tribe Called Quest’s “Midnight” & everything around me stops & I’m suddenly whisked back over 20 years to that night in my car where the CD player kept playing track after track on that album & our heads were nodding in unison & in synch we both bust out with "Intensity, most rappers don’t see it / Spirit wise, musically you gotta be it!" & I reach to turn down the volume & we both look at each other to agree that even then we felt a crisis in hip hop coming on & that our favorite emcees & DJs weren’t getting the attention & accolades they deserved because lesser cats with weaker raps were easier to play on the radio & thank goodness we could hit the track back button & hear “Midnight” again or turn to “Award Tour” as an apt send off as we leave the parking lot behind the theatre & turn north to take you home.
& it’s late in this sports bar & I think how long you’ve been gone & I try to remember our last conversation as I replay in my mind the montage sequence of how we lost touch after leaving junior college & phone calls every couple of months changed to a couple calls a year & how we used to see each other every day & had lunch together often & how we used to play the dozens between classes & before rehearsals & never worrying for one second that your your momma jokes or my momma jokes would cut to the quick & I think now that subconsciously I carry on these quick quips with my sister & friends & co-workers in a nod to your absence though no one ever has the comebacks you did & some lack the good sense to remember it’s all in jest & just as “Midnight” starts its second verse here in this sports bar with the blonde bombshell bartender whose bright white smile reminds me of yours I think about how great it’d be for you to be in the chair beside me egging me on to flirt with said bartender inflating the courage & the ego in me the way my tall beer wouldn’t & I wonder if you’d be surprised at the intro- vert I’ve become & my tendency to sit quietly & observe & be Q-tip’s nocturnal animal & I think if you were here we’d think about putting some poetry to a beat & then I remember that time listening to Guru rap about it being “Mostly Tha Voice” & you looking at me to say I had the voice & laughing & pumping your fist before giving me a high five & that night is on my mind, the night is on my mind, the sun’ll still shine. & I remember I’m stuck in this sports bar late on a Sunday night & I’m two beers & two shots in, but no one knows I’m back in that godforsaken East Texas city pulling my own CL Smooth reminiscing over you because A Tribe Called Quest called you back from the past & here I am in that sports bar thinking how Boyz II Men told us how hard it would be & how hard it is now to think that I never really told you & despite all these TVs & the eye-catching blonde pouring another pint, the night makes the aura, the sports bar the soundtrack & outside the way the moon dangles in the midnight sky and the stars dance around, hey yo I think it’s fly & I think the memory has that intensity, & I nod my head, still in unison to yours, thinking you’ll see it, knowing you’ll see it, & then I slow down as the song fades into some more current obnoxious hit
and that night's on my mind the sun will still shine but that night's on my mind & you still shine and that night is on my mind the night is on my mind the night
This poem contains a line, and plays with other lines, from the song "Midnight" by A Tribe Called Quest.