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Callaloo 24.4 (2001) 1113-1114

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The Crowd

Clarence Major

The personality of this crowd does a highjump.
I can't stay here alone long
but I will remember this moment.
It will remember itself,
its outward thrust, its pull.
It wills itself in its inward pull.
Each member of this crowd is a sphere.
We're contrasted and introverted.
There's a woman in white
lace and I'm wearing gold.
We are here and some are there
like single sentences on a page
surrounded by white space.
Some of us I see resist this crowding, this expanding,
some resist leaving,
some insist on leaving,
yet the shape holds.
Ours are introverted goals.
We are a we, sad or laughing.
Ours is an extroverted gaze.
We are the raw goods, raving mad.
This is a maze made for the likes of us.
We are more here than some are there,
more loud and given to pushing,
to altercations. We hold tight.
We shout with excitement.
Our anterior is hard to distinguish
from our posterior. The shape changes constantly.
Our buzz ascends just as
confetti descends
from upper-windows onto us lightly. [End Page 1113]
We are stuck in the traffic of ourselves.
This crowd is a Coney Island nightmare.
This crowd would be a Fifth Avenue parade.
We are not the crowd you need in church
weeping over a body.
Stampeding potential here.
We take shape by contrast with
those in the distance
resisting the thicket that is us,
resisting our internal pressure.
(Among them, a woman in a red dress,
a man in muddy boots and vest.)
Some feel jilted and out of sorts.
I can promise nothing.
We are largely off-balance.
We are losing our premise.
Outfield, infield, implicit, explicit.
I am the host of my own crowded body.
I am a guest in my own body,
a guest in the crowd.
The crowd doesn't know me.
I don't know these people crowded together.
This self is lost in the push,
though resurfacing constantly,
explicitly and implicitly,
while the finger of the animal that is me
plugs its ear till the screaming stops.

Clarence Major is the author of several award-winning novels, including Such Was The Season, Painted Turtle: Woman With Guitar, Dirty Bird Blues and Reflex and Bone Structure, My Amputations, as well as stories collected in Fun & Games (1990), a new edition of poetry, Configurations: New and Selected Poems 1958-1998 (a finalist for the National Book Award in 1999), and Necessary Distance (2001). He has also edited a number of anthologies, including Calling The Wind: Twentieth Century African-American Short Stories (1993) and The Garden Thrives: Twentieth Century African-American Poetry (1996). He has received numerous awards, among them a National Council on the Arts Award (1970), a Fulbright (1981-1983) and two Pushcart prizes (1976/1990). He teaches at the University of California, Davis.



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