Honey, what would a thinner man know of hunger,
I mean to be forever, for always in hunger.
When my stomach has had enough, when my body goes quiet,
I let my mouth take over. It’s a calling, this hunger
to sing for a love I’m too ashamed to want for myself, so I
practice; the pitch has to be right to sing the hunger
of other lovers, a take on a take, a rendition no one has heard
before, with this voice I wed the lives of others. A hunger
to set the mood—I make them turn the lights off,
turn them on. A gift, this first instrument of hunger;
this tenor. I can feel it in my body, all 300 pounds of me.
You’re never lonely when you’re a man, who knows hunger
like I do, as big as two men holding on so tight that you would think
there is only one. There are two of me, both of us hungry
for the stage. Look at how the spotlight searches for me, it can’t keep up.
They chant my name; want more of me. Who am I to let them starve?
Excerpted from Fantasia for the Man in Blue by Tommye Blount. Excerpted with the permission of Four Way Books. Copyright © 2020 by Tommye Blount.