Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Examples of Justice

Examples of Justice
by Tony Hoagland

crack cocaine,
the poetry of Keats;
Kathleen’s big beautiful face,
and The Communist Manifesto
— these are all pain relievers.

Death from cancer of the mouth
of the tyrant Joseph McCarthy;
the blue crow gliding over the arroyo, cawing;
the baby taking the lima bean from his mouth
and pushing it back between the lips of his mother
— these are examples of justice.

The moment when you step away from the party;
the sound of the eighty-foot spruce tree, creaking;
the hour in the waning afternoon
when the attorney stands beside her car,
removes her sunglasses, and looks up at the sky
— these are examples of remembering.

The metaphor that makes you laugh out loud.
The warm breast of the dental hygienist
pressed against your ear
as she leans to get access to your plaque.

The dream in which you find yourself at sea,
at night, with water under you so deep
you weep with fear. And yet the darkness
does not take you into it
— these are examples of fortune.

Reposted from the New York Times Magazine, selected by Terrance Hayes. 

Friday, May 4, 2018

The Bench

The Bench by Mary Ruefle

Click through for the poem - could not be reposted without losing the formatting.

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.