Recorded for Poem-a-Day, March 6, 2018.
About this Poem 

“I’ve seen how clan justice, organic and calculating, can be dealt out against sexual immorality, to devastating effect. In this poem, the son and his lover are unable to escape a perverse karmic retribution; they share his mother’s fate. Ray Charles and Margie Hendricks, whose song celebrates love and sexuality, provide the soundtrack for the second half of the poem, as does the crying infant. Maybe there is some solace to be taken in worldly music. If we enter the world crying, we enter it singing.”

—Duy Doan

Duet

            Night time is the right time . . .
                  —Ray Charles and Margie Hendricks

She had me in the car. I came forward like a song.
We did it before temple, after temple, between prayers.
The windows echoed her mantras, our cries warmed the air.
Two peaks merged, then sank below the clouds.

We did it before temple, after temple, between prayers.
Her stomach began to show and people asked us not to come.
Two peaks merged, then sank below the clouds.
Night and day, everything was changing.

. . . . .

Her stomach began to show and people asked her not to come.
My mother was all alone when I was born.
Night and day. Everything was changing.
The radio started playing rhythm and blues.

My mother was all alone when I was born—
The windows echoed her mantras, our cries warmed the air,
The radio started playing rhythm and blues.
She had me in a car. I came forward like a song.

Copyright © 2018 by Duy Doan. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on March 6, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2018 by Duy Doan. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on March 6, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

Duy Doan

Duy Doan

Duy Doan is the author of We Play a Game (Yale University Press, 2018).

by this poet

poem

Night time is the right time . . .
—Ray Charles and Margie Hendricks

She had me in the car. I came forward like a song.
We did it before temple, after temple, between prayers.
The windows echoed her mantras, our cries warmed the air.
Two peaks merged, then sank
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