The “Missing” Chapter from SONG OF THE SHANK

, ,

Recently, BOMB Magazine published a chapter that had been excised from Kimbilio Faculty Member Jeffrey Renard Allen’s SONG OF THE SHANK.

Making Tom (Return): Behind the Scenes

by Jeffery Renard Allen

He is Tom at the same time that he is too preposterous to be Tom. (Root distinction, difference: Juluster is a rare one, but he belongs. Tom never belonged. Tom never could belong. A challenge—what blind person isn’t?—Juluster is both cooperative and independent in ways that Tom never was, never could be.) He looks somewhat like Tom. A pure and simple brute, this negro with a narrow and sloped forehead, who bears in the middle section of his brain the signs of certain grossly powerful energies. The thinking faculties are poor or even null; therefore, he is possessed by his desire and also by his will, of an often terrible intensity.And physical differences between Tom and his double can be put off to aging—who will remember anyway? The public has not seen Tom for more than five years—although Juluster is Tom’s senior by a decade, having already reached thirty years of age. No. Even that is a lie. On his last birthday he achieved his Jesus year. But he still believes in his youthfulness. More importantly, he believes in the role that Seven has given him to play—game for the game—a role Seven mentally scripts moment by moment from memory—Lait—selling the shadow to support the substance. Since Juluster is game for the game teach him his name. The body is a habit he can break. Even now his flesh quivers, every inch of it, the skin coming unhinged. He seems to be drifting out of himself, becoming other, becoming Blind Tom.


The Original Blind Tom. Seven says the name (title) in a voice that doesn’t sound like his own but rather like the voice of a magician, a sorcerer. (Repeated practice will cause the name to come naturally. So he must remain aware of his tongue. Correct it when it errs, when he says or thinks “Juluster” instead of Tom. So, around the clock, practice saying it. Tom. The Original Blind Tom. Tom. The Original Blind Tom. Until it becomes second nature.) The Original Blind Tom. In the sounds of the name he thinks he hears a way for returning Tom back to the world, back to himself. Each word a twin of itself, telling two stories at the same time, his and Tom’s.I have become a name.

Read the rest of the story here: