Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Black Confederate Ghost Story

Black Confederate Ghost Story
by Terrance Hayes

Attention, African-American apparitions hung,
burned, or drowned before anyone alive was born:

please make a mortifying midnight appearance
before the handyman standing on my porch
this morning with a beard as wild as Walk Whitman's.

Except he is the anti-Whitman, this white man
with Confederate pins littering his denim cap and jacket.
(And by mortify, dear ghosts, I mean scare the snot out of him.)

I wish I were as tolerant as Walt Whitman
waltzing across the battlefield like a song
covering a cry of distress, but I want to be a storm

covering a Confederate parade. The handyman's
insistence that there were brigades of black
Confederates is as oxymoronic as terms like
"civil war," "free slave." It is the opposite of history.

Good-bye, plantations doused in Sherman's fire
and homely lonesome women weeping
over blue and gray bodies. Good-bye, colored ghosts.

You could have headed north if there was a south
to flee. In Louisiana north still begins with Mississippi,
as far as I know. East is Alabama, west is Texas,

and here is this fool telling me there were blacks
who fought to preserve slavery. Good-bye, slavery.
Hello, black accomplices and accomplished blacks.

Hello, Robert E. Lee bobblehead doll
on the handyman's dashboard whistling Dixie
across our postracial country. Last night
I watched several hours of television and saw
no blacks. NASDAQ. NASCAR. Nadda black.

I wish there were more ghost stories
about lynched Negroes haunted the mobs
that lynched them. Do I believe no one among us
was alive between 1861 and 1865?

I do and I don't. We all have to go somewhere
and we are probably already there.

I know only one ghost story featuring a brother
in Carrollton, Alabama, dragged to the center of town
in a storm for some crime he didn't commit.

As he was hung lightning struck a window
on the courthouse he's been haunting ever since.

Attention, apparitions: this is a solicitation
very much like a prayer. Your presence is requested
tonight when this man is polishing his civil war relics
and singing "Good Ol' Rebel Soldier" to himself.

Hello, sliding chairs. Hello, vicious whispering shadows.
I'm a reasonable man, but I want to be as inexplicable
as something hanging a dozen feet in the air.



copied from How to Be Drawn by Terrance Hayes.


I Play Football

I Play Football
(for Kevin Jones)

by Nikki Giovanni

some people plant seeds
for corn and tomatoes and okra
which grow

some people clean land
and at evening you can see
deer eating flowers or just standing
Mother Deer watching her babies

some people live in crowded
cities
and they put out window boxes
with herbs
enchanting the folk who walk by

I play football

I have watched
men work too long
for too little
then come home
to smile at their wives
and children

I have watched
every Sunday

Sunday School children offer a psalm
preachers offer hope
a choir offers a voice
and join the community
in prayer
to a Merciful God
that life will be better

I play football

I listened to my parents
tell me to go forward
I listened to my teachers
tell me I can
I listened to the wind
whistling in my ear
and sometimes the rain
falling on my back
and I understood
the true heroes of our nation

I am doing my part
to be a part of
this community
this school
this team

I am humbled
to be considered for

The Hall of Fame
when I know the true heroes
are the men and women
who every day go forward

I play football

I hope I have done my share


from A Good Cry: What We Learn From Love and Laughter, p. 106-108


note: the break in stanza 6/7 between 'every Sunday' and 'Sunday School children..' is a page break in the text, as is the break between 'to be considered for' and 'The Hall of Fame' in stanza 10/11. 

Charlottesville Curriculum

Charlottesville Curriculum
by Sarah Gambito

I am afraid of your transcendental death.
When people say think of a man. I think of a brown man.
Sometimes the earth grows khella because she can feel our suffering.
Yooooooing beneath Costco tikis.

When people say think of a man. I think of a white man.
I am meant to hold you in your oblique pain, your map-driven pain.
Yooooooing beneath Costco tikis.
I was drunk holding my teeth in like students.

I am meant to hold you in your oblique pain, your map-driven pain.
You die like an actor.
I was drunk holding my teeth in like students.
My body was a brown dog I shoved back into the water.

You die like an actor.
I beseeched but couldn’t stay out of the first person.
My body was a brown dog I shoved back into the water.
Hold me, hold me, hold me, holdmeholdmeholdme.

I beseeched but couldn’t stay out of the first person.
Where does it hurt, we say.
Hold me, hold me, hold me, holdmeholdmeholdme.
I am afraid of your transcendental death.