OUT OF THE DAY COME THE DRUMMERS, with congas and maracas and tars, with bongos and little hand-drums painted with sacred symbols and incised with the faces of demons, with drums of skin and wood and river clay and metal, the drums of the four elements. With rainsticks and shekeres, drums that hiss and drums that rumble like two stones rolling against each other on the floor of the ocean, with clay ghatams as round as their bellies and surdos like flame under the feet, with all kinds of drums in their hands streaked and fretted with the day's labor, hands that know how to make matter speak secrets of spirit.
Master drummers with eager apprentices, drummers who leave their men at home to make love to the moon with their drum, drummers who lie to people but never to their drum. Big fat drummers with bellies overspilling their too-tight pants who love nothing more than to eat, make love, and drum, drummers lean as snakes with muscles articulate as the taut skin of a drum, rude drummers with beery kisses, inept drummers fumbling the beat, shy drummers who roar like thunder when they drum, tomboys who bury a tooth under the Milky Way wishing for their first drum, drummers who are glad they are not soldiers, fire-eyed drummers with stretch marks on their breasts and tough nipples, drummers who heard their true name one night from a drum.
INDIGENT DRUMMERS SLACKING ON THE RENT but never on the rhythm, drummers with neighbors pounding on the wall, drummers who sleep in their truck with their drums, drummers who stroke the skin of a drumhead patient as a lover who know what Duke meant when he said "A drum is a woman," drummers drumming as the first warhead opens its flower of heavy elements, drummers full of acid playing drums of water, mathematical drummers building golden triangles in the ear, drummers who could have been poets inventing a new language of the heart on a secondhand drum, drummers who think of the most beautiful breasts they never touched when they drum, drummers with pieces of metal in their flesh binding them to this world, drummers who dreamed they could fly when they were young, who learned to fly.
DRUMMERS WHO PLAY WHAT THEY HEAR INSIDE, drummers who play what's never been heard, drummers who keep the secret of the silent beat. Drummers who make earthquakes when they drum, rhythm masters of the cutting rhyme and the tricky sample, compassionate drummers drumming the drum of swift death, old drummers who set searing coals of envy in the chests of young drummers, drummers born in the wrong century, exiles of time. Medicine drummers with caxixi and berimbau stinging trances into the air, heavy metal drummers to whom visions of Norse thundergods come in garages stinking of dinosaur perfume, kind rainbow drummers with bellies full of lust for perfect young bodies, drummers who weep thinking of a cow in the slaughterhouse, assassin drummer aiming his arrow well, blind drummer sounding the colors of the setting sun, lonely drummers, drummers drumming first blood between their legs, drummers who smile when they play knowing they were born to drum, drummers who say dancing with the hands, drummers who should have stuck with the violin lessons, drummers who learn they are drummers ringing the temple bell, drummers unraveling the net of the law, drummers making one from one and one, drummers who keep drumming when the drumhead cuts the fingers of their hands, drummers who feel nothing but pain, drummers drumming to steal knowledge of the dead, drummers waiting absolutely still for the animal whose skin will be the skin of a drum.