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Narrative of the Life of the Brown Boy and the White Man

Ronaldo Wilson

Publication Year: 2008

Prose poems that profile the interrelationship of the two central characters, looking deeply into their psyches and thoughts of race, class, and identity.

Published by: University of Pittsburgh Press

Series: Pitt Poetry Series

Title Page, Copyright

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I. Narrative of the Life of the Brown Boy and the White Man

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Narrative of the Life of the Brown Boy and the White Man

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pp. 3-5

One house is red, up on a red mountain. The house is windowless and cold. In the garage of the red house is a car and in that car is a red button. This button does nothing. The car is silver and has four black wheels with silver rims, one covered in dirt. The dirt is not from the mountain...

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The Brown Boy Dreams His Father Is White and Thin

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pp. 6-7

The brown boy’s mother is light, almost the color of milk that has been lit with sun and boiled. Since she was proud of her body, the brown boy’s mother rarely wore clothing in her house, and he often saw her naked. Since she ran marathons, played tennis, and made ceramic sculptures, she was often tired...

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Irrational Desire

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pp. 8-10

The white man is in Boston. The brown boy is at his gym, in Manhattan, below the street in the locker room. The pool just beyond the heavy steel door is an expanse of salty water with bits of floating skin, mucus, and a string of hair that wraps around his goggles and clings to his mouth...

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Brad Pitt, Kevin Bacon, and the Brown Boy’s Mother

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pp. 11-14

When he wakes up out of sleep, the brown boy remembers two things: his white man calls and breaks the groans of Kevin Bacon, naked and writhing in pain on a hard and wet black street. Bacon has been beaten with broken bottles and has had his chest smashed in with a large flaming...

II. The Brown Boy’s Family

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The Brown Boy’s Black Father Loses It

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pp. 17-19

In the dream, the brown boy’s father is crazy. He is naked and has come out into a kitchen scattered with open boxes, his cock shiny, hard, and sticking straight into the room. The brown boy knows he must get his father to a mirror so he can get him to look at his own eyes. If he can only drag...

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The Brown Boy’s Mother Is Wearing Green

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pp. 20-22

As she slipped the army green turtleneck, ribbed and freshly bought from Ross, from over her shoulders, she told the brown boy about the senior citizens’ discount the saleslady almost failed to give her. The brown boy’s mother told him that she asked the girl, Do I look 17?...

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The Brown Boy, the White Man, and the Snow

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p. 23-23

The brown boy, looking out into the snow, did not think of his own depression. He only thought of the white man’s as he washed away the leftover layers of rice that had soaked in the water and oil from the evening’s Garlic Chicken and Pad Thai. As he finished the dishes, the brown boy’s interpretation of the white man’s sadness in winter was fueled by his...

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The Brown Boy Im agines the White Man’s Death

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pp. 24-25

How sad it will be the moment, one day, when the white man dies.
Though since the white man is good, he will grow old cheerily, not greedily with cankers loading up in his ass or on his balls from years of hate and selfishness.
But even though he lives right, his stomach boils like a dead sea and hurts...

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Koi and Eel Dream

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p. 26-26

The brown boy is with his father in a living room watching an eel in a tank. The eel is also a koi that has a wire and paper twist-tie pierced into the back of its orange tail. The koi is also fat and white. The eel is large and black, with the face of a cat. It stares out at the brown boy and his black father from inside the tank, hissing and showing its teeth...

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Serena Williams, Whiteness, and the Act of Writing

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pp. 27-30

The brown boy is afraid, because he can’t tell, exactly, what his work is. He identifies with Serena Williams, the gorgeous, black tennis star who was booed at Indian Wells. The rumor is that her father, Richard, fixed an earlier match in the tournament where she was to play her sister, Venus, who pulled out with tendinitis in her knees seconds before...

III. The Brown Boy’s Flesh

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A Cruise

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pp. 33-34

The brown boy is dreaming about being on the open deck of the Orient Point Ferry, which travels between Long Island and New London. His head leans against the stomach of a thin, white man with no money, who has a rust-colored beard and cheap, amber sunglasses. Though he does not know the brown boy, the white man with a rust-colored...

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The Brown Boy Remembers Mr. Moreau

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pp. 35-36

Mr. Moreau is big and white and sits on a high stool. From the brown boy’s desk, which is lower than the counter, he can look up at the great bulge between his teacher’s legs. Even though, in physics, he would stare up at Mr. Moreau and think at night about being fucked by him—like a...

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The Brown Boy Plays a Game

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pp. 37-39

Once, when the brown boy was a child, he played like his mother was one too. He ran and ran around the field they shared with dozens of other houses on the military base. In that field, the brown boy burned a red wagon to black by loading it with hay—grass that had turned brown from the Tennessee sun. He burned the wagon while other boys...

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The Brown Boy and the Baby

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pp. 40-42

The baby could speak. The brown boy remembers lifting the baby up on his shoulders and carrying him up a ramp into a room where there were dozens of fish tanks next to one another. It was not a pet store, because in front of the aquariums there were vats of cooked seafood, each of which matched the fish in the tanks: crab cakes next to crabs...

IV. The Brown Boy’s Travels

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The Brown Boy Opens His Mouth Underwater

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pp. 45-49

Three thousand and twenty-one miles away from the red house and his white man, the brown boy has become an endless hole, his mouth flooded with the water from the pool at 24 Hour Fitness, where he dazzles yellow and squat pool-sitters who gawk in awe, his butterflying arms hurling out to break the water’s surface. When he is tired, the brown...

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Joey, the Brown Boy, and Ricky

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pp. 50-56

In Kenya, there is a white man with cotton-white hair standing against a backdrop of shields that look like hardened zebra hides matted onto wood. What excites the brown boy is the blue, button-down shirt that cloaks the traveler who has found himself in front of a row of shields, posing...

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The Accident

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pp. 57-60

In front of a black limousine, a white man with layers of winter khaki and Shetland tweed lies on the street, his face kissing the ground, arms folded back and hands pushing against the ground where he tried to catch himself. The left side of his face is soft and milk fed. His glasses are oval and gold. He has been struck by the car that is blocking traffic...

V. The Brown Boy’s Final Killing

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Incident and Episode in the Red House

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pp. 63-65

The white man in his bed is cast in a low, red light. Grey hair coats his skin-rubbery torso. The brown boy is wearing blue G-Star raw denim jeans, a black Donna Karan slim tight top with green cashmere socks, and olive-toned clogs that hang over the side of the white man’s waterbed. How...

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The Brown Boy’s Flesh

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p. 66-66

While being driven home in the silver car, toward the clear house down route 25A, the white man told the brown boy about a dessert he had at Pace’s. When he said the flavor, chocolate coffee bean gelato, the possibility of its taste had only a second to register before the shock of its sight...

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The Brown Boy’s Silence

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pp. 67-68

All I do is eat chocolate, get fat and feel depressed. The brown boy—feeling sorry for himself—thought that this was something he meant as he thought it. But because the white man has made an omelet for the brown boy and is now cleaning the windows, the house smells thick with...

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The Brown Boy’s Final Killing

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pp. 69-70

After a barbecue, the brown boy is floating in a millionaire’s pool with a gunite base. The sky is black above him, muddled. His body sinks just below the water, where he looks up into the black, where there is not a star to be seen. His hands lift through the water to cup a moth that floats...

VI. The Brown Boy’s Clarity

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The Brown Boy Is Looking and Listening

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pp. 73-74

There are two places where the brown boy feels long. In the mirror, he stares first at his stomach, which is perfect, framed by two small lines that cut into him and point to his feet, which hurt from running. In the mirror, he cannot see his feet, but peers around to his muscular calves, turns his left leg in and thinks there could be a point to this action...

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The Brown Boy Loves the White Man

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pp. 75-78

When the brown boy remembers the white man applying Clinique’s All About the Eyes to the bags beneath his own, he also remembers the fluid is pink. The brown boy does not need Clinique, but he feels that the ritual of a wash, then Clarifying Lotion, Multi-Vitamin Acne Treatment (precautionary), Total Turnaround Cream, Moisture in...

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pp. 79-80

Acknowledgement is made to the following journals where these poems, some in earlier versions, first appeared:
Blithe House Quarterly, www.blithe.com (“The Brown Boy and the Baby,” “The Brown Boy Imagines the White Man’s Death,” “The Brown Boy Plays a Game,” “The Brown Boy Remembers Mr. Moreau,” “The Brown Boy, the White Man...

E-ISBN-13: 9780822978244
E-ISBN-10: 0822978245
Print-ISBN-13: 9780822960133
Print-ISBN-10: 0822960133

Page Count: 88
Publication Year: 2008

Series Title: Pitt Poetry Series

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