“The Hunger of Luther Vandross”

A Poem by Tommye Blount

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?

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Tommye Blount, Fantasia for the Man in Blue

Excerpted from Fantasia for the Man in Blue by Tommye Blount. Excerpted with the permission of Four Way Books. Copyright © 2020 by Tommye Blount.

Tommye Blount
Tommye Blount
Tommye Blount is the author of What Are We Not For. A Cave Canem alumnus and graduate of Warren Wilson College's MFA Program for Writers, he has been the recipient of scholarships and fellowships from Kresge Arts in Detroit and the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference. Born and raised in Detroit, Blount now lives in the nearby suburb of Novi, Michigan.





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