Poem and reminiscence

Post-it note of poem with doodle by Tom Weatherly, circa 1980s.

This time you were a man
Akua Lezli Hope
for TEW II

In your man skin
you made many kin
roped inks       vagrant vagaries
raveled     un     der     stood
rode big wheels thru hood
reveled in trope                trifles
decon rhythmed rhyme
broke blues     baked song
bread     read     mighty
many tomes     Thomas     right
smote     left

Thomas Elias Weatherly 

winds  strum
power  lines
free  wheel
hums  pace
line  elias
spins  alone
boston  post

Remember I’m half divine, 1/2 man, 1/2 god, 1/2 alligator
— Thomas Elias Weatherly II, circa late ’70s

Know that the only good criticism is that which tells you what is wrong. You don’t take your car to a mechanic for praise, you want the car fixed. So until you can become an objective critic of your own work only elicit criticism from folk who are language mechanics. — Thomas Elias Weatherly II


Weatherly was dear to me — a boyfriend and mentor and later a friend. We met when we both read on the same bill in the ’70s. Larry Neal included his Maumau American Cantos in our curriculum when I was at Williams College. I thought he was an old man. When I met him, I was blown away. He was gorgeous and had this incredible warm deep voice. I was amazed that one of my poet heroes was so young. I was more into jazz than he was at the time — I had begun to study the tenor sax with Marty Erhlich — but I loved and played the Wild Tchoupitoulas singing fiercely along. He turned me on that New Orleans sound that connected with my love of funk.