And on the Front Page
and on the front pageof the newspaper, the corpses
of twelve Mexicans lie insideboxes, each packed generic
in cardboard, like an appliancewaiting to be delivered
brand new—and what of somewoman, any woman
with skin the color of dirtwho ain't never had nothing.
She stands by a door and is greetedby a box, the lines on her face
deep like those back roads heading northwhere a man who could be her son
rests on a border patrol stretcherthe balm of vomit and spit on lips
a catheter stuck inside his dick.He is young and fine, but the sun
is not a friend, it reminds himof his place as it shines
on his black hair, and the arrowthrough the heart painted on his arm. [End Page 187]
for Abdur-Rahim Jackson
There's that certain way you have of talkingthat has always kept a spell over me.
Snap—snap your fingers and I am walkinglike a dog, thirsty, tethered to your lead.
The song says you make me feel like dancingand I'm going to dance the night away
in this here airport, I will pave a waythrough like those that came before me talking
yes sirs, yes mams, big eyes and lips dancinginside white pantries. Ain't got to tell me
shuffling me, more than once to take your leadwhile my dark cowrie shell skin tries walking
straight into the promise land where sidewalksteethe and bleed, lines drawn in sand shift away
to percussive beats made by bombs of lead.And the world keeps shouting: peace talks, peace talks.
The good book, Koran, somebody's god, mygod, lovely mists of white phosphorus dance
over the spectacle of a dancertrying to prove he's no terrorist walk
man—wasn't it Hughes that said life for mecertainly ain't been no crystal stairway?
Or is an arched black back the gods talkinga poised foot prayer, a reverence led
by the same day old song, like the leadingsay—dragging of a man, that hard dancing
in Jasper, Texas, what didactic talk [End Page 188] between the body and the road he walked
between the neck severing itself awayfrom the head—coming forth to carry me
sings byrd while security studies mein the circle of spotlight, a leading
role as an audience steers eyes my wayto the staging of a black man dancing
in an airport, and bodies walk and walksomewhere, and like dice, brothers shoot talk
somewhere away in cities far from methey talk about how their boy childs will lead
and dance on the unforgivable walk. [End Page 189]
war poem #1
and after the bombson halloween
they are childrenpure children
not touched by the waysof grown folk
they will walk door to dooreat candy and giggle
as if strange musicgives voice to the dead [End Page 190]
an excerpt from Praise House
Become a bride in a place that looks like thisthe hardness of wedding stone hovering & guarding symphony & stream. There is beauty in this: how we learn by repetition how we die by repetition. In the high schoolyear book, there was once a girl a girl with lips [End Page 191] extended upward to the moon & scribbled names written in hollowcursive letters said things like most likely to succeed, or stay young & sweet then there were the numbers: [End Page 192] 24: age at time of death 5: number of bullets8: months pregnant 99: the year the prince said we were all going to die [End Page 193] Old folks sayyou can tell much about a man by the way he kills let the choir sing all their namessing glory glory hallelujah. [End Page 194]
Sitting beneath the sun this accordion of fire counting the days eyes saw & could not see & counting the passing of time backwardsby hand one day, one finger at a time & underneath a canopy of rain underneath the sea brown...