Sunday, April 26, 2020

Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Black Boy

Influenced by Wallace Stevens’ poem, “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird,” 1954



I
Among twenty armed officers,   
The only moving thing   
Was the falling body of the black boy.   


II
The root and the branches   
Of a family a tree In which there are 
love, and legacy, and memories of lynched black boys.   


III
The black boy is the greatest,
 And the greatest endurer
Of unnecessary, historical pain.    


IV
A man and a woman   
Are one.   
A man and a woman and a black boy   
Are one.   


V
I do not know which to prefer,   
The beauty of a black boys eyes 
Or the beauty of his creative mind,   
The black boy’s potential, sure bliss, 
Or the black boy’s tendency to love.   


VI
Bars filled the long hallways   
With barbaric enclosures.   
The body of the black boy   
Crossed it, to and fro.   
His mind,   
uncontainable,  
His spirit, still free.   


VII
O Men of Theology   
Why do you imagine golden hair?   
Do you not see how the wool headed black boy   
Walks around on feet   
Of polished bronze around you?   


VIII
I know valuable places and possessions  
And complicated, intricate creations-- ways of knowing;   
But I know, too,   
That the black boy is involved   
In what I know.   


IX
When the black boy emerged in the Western Hemisphere,   
It marked the edge   
of many improvements to modern society.   


X
At the sight of black boys   
Gathered under street lights,   
Even the asphalt beneath their sneakers   
Are blessed by their existence.   


XI
She rides around the country   
In an impossible glass coach.   
Each time a fear pierces her,   
She mistakes her fragility, and   
Insecurity, and false vulnerability  
For a black boy.   


XII
The earth is spinning.   
The black boy is her axis.  


XIII
It was a murmuration.   
It was black boys  
Gathering to show   
Black boy solidarity  
In spite of the many obstacles.

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