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  • I Am Not Proud To Be Black
  • Tyrone Williams (bio)


Hope ends and thinking breaks out, uncertain violence which is not despair— or, if despair, sublime despair, disfigured hope. The table, already broken, gets cleared. Double consciousness gets swept aside by polyentendres, duck-rabbits, wavicles. Neither waving nor drowning, we tread water like a page turning in a book. We trace the arc of Icarus. The sky only seems to fall—and then, only sideways like a page turning in a book. And in the larger arc of Daedalus, hope settles in another country, ending thought. We neither wave nor drown, we turn


the page. We begin outside the book but the book is everywhere we turn, a finishing fable: cowboys “in the boat of Ra” who “marvel at this curious thing”: hearsay circulates as he-said/she-said to the put-down dubbed as he-said/he-said. New commandments overdub the old ones. Skin grows back over old bones: disfigured hope. The table, already broken, dysfunctional, is finally institutionalized as a work of art—or the black sheep sold down the Jordan or the Nile, another country cobbled out of continents, extant and not: February, Juneteenth, Kwanzaa . . . [End Page 8]


“I wipe the spit from my face and read on.” We want more than this attenuation, singularity, launch windows so narrow, so fleeting, so hard to reach in time. We need more than just a book called How but the book is everywhere we turn: Blue and his shopping cart of blueprints, Trueblood in stitches—a howler—or a howl. The face-cum-spit is not mollified by inverted commas, an index of distance shaped like a promise and a threat, a covenant, a contract, on our lives. The principle flies like a flag—or spit, returned with interest— or we throw our hands in the air like we just


don’t care, nobodies or nations, the false dilemma. We are neither, however concentrated as teemings, trends or tendencies, bunched up at—impaled upon—opposing horns like shrunken heads or tails. The excluded middle as “dispossession makes possession joy.” Reconstruction, acreage and mule, happy days and endings: zero-sums: the median strip: Begin Here to thumb rides or jack cars. The two-way traffic— shaped like a promise and a threat, a covenant— waits for lights, not legs. It never strikes deals, only pedestrians foolish enough to venture forth. And yet, what choice but adventure?


The lilies of the field? The birds? The median strip: Begin Here to thumb rides? I know, I know—the trap of the Missing Ingredient, the Assumption of the Bloodied Bars. But prides and flocks are never caged in zoos, obedient in their calm, their rage. The slides and strides of Skid and Strivers’ Row enframe expedient debts and assets, the obsequious calm of bromides. We must almost come to terms and blows, [End Page 9] simulate in-flight, run in places. To dart between the cars when traffic slows invests an unsecured paper-chase. Yet we cannot simply stand and wait for deliverance. The shapeshifter debate


concerns both strategies and goals. And both depend on who we might, if we hold, be as then, or such, or if. Suppose we have, in fact, disappeared, or almost so, absorbed unevenly—or woven haphazardly—into the fold, which won’t, of course. For whom these variegated vectors, these conflicting and overlapping methods? And if this we is densities and clans, storied skin, do we embody, en masse, debts and assets, the obsequious calm of bromides? Say nightmare? Yes, but say it backwards, say it in a whisper over and over, mute-nigh, narcotic nonsense, never


to wake us. Falling deeper and deeper into sleep, we could drift apart, into unique dreams alike, dreams whose parents look like us. What is not apparent is the dream of nightmare, what we know “before the voices wake us” and we know light as day, the everyday, a dealer: five-card stud or the five fingers, it’s all just bad hands, bad luck, these conflicting and overlapping methods, meterologies and weather reports, “and” itself the means, obstacle and end, “and...

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pp. 8-14
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