Monday, June 20, 2005

Monday June 20th, 2005 - 8:40AM

So i'm back from Cave Canem and i feel myself transformed... again... I thought that the experience i had the first year culdn't be duplicated. I even came in with a plan; exercises i wold use to generate the poems which you have to generate every morning by 10. i figured that if i did this, i'd be fine. i'd get work done and i wouldn't be up staring at the screen at 8:35 wondering where the poem would come from.

That worked for the first night, but then the suggestions that the faculty gave us and the discussions they started and the absolute presence and involvement and atmosphere there, meant that i ended up writing the poems i needed to write; the poems i thught i couldn't or was afraid to.

In particular, Kwame Dawes' presence as faculty gave me such permission to write in the dialect, to constrcut the poems in the voice that was necessary, in the language that was necessary that i feel i made a huge breakthrough this week.

In additin it was yet another lesson in how non-monolithic we are, something i think even we black folk forget the more we're inundated with images of ourselves in public life. So yes, we are doctors and parents and entertainers and we are plus size burlesque performers, and preachers' kids and singers and one Trinidadian sport-nut poet, so here's a poem about cricket. i probably would never have written this poem two weeks ago. it's weird to feel like a week later, i'm a better poet than i was when i started. So dig it, hope y'all like it. There are others. i'll poet them later...

Brisbane, 1975

(i) Bowler – opening spell

All morning, this blistering heat,
oppressive even for one
black as me, and accustomed
to Carribean sun.

My tail is up, and even
off a short run-up, I am
a rainbow of fire and movement.

Still, not a wicket.
My in-swinger is hostile
and I haven’t even rolled
my sleeves up yet.
The batsmen can’t touch me.
I have them beaten – all ends up.

In the stands, the sea of faces
burned to a pink under their wide-brim hats
is quiet and confused. Even they
have been sure they’ve heard
a fine edge, or detected the trapped
stance in the thud of an L.B.W.

(ii) Umpire

I couldn’t care less how much
this savage hoots and points his finger,
how many screamed howzats?!
at what he thinks is an out.
If this boy thinks he will win
an appeal from me with anything
less than licking the stumps
clean out of the ground,
then this black fool
must be more stupid than I first thought

This is our game. We taught
these monkeys how to be dignified
how to play the gentleman’s sport,
how to be civilized. They’d still
be in trees if not for us.

Now they want to change the game,
embarrasing our batsmen,
coming to the wicket top buttons
undone, trying to frighten us
with their shiny black chests.

I will show them. We are still
their patrons in this game.
Good white wickets are not
this nigger’s, for the taking.

(iii) Bowler – just before noon

So apparently, even an obvious
top edge is not enough
to give me my due.

I’m going back to the long run-up
To hell with strategy and field placement.
I’m not even looking for the L.B.W.
or the catch amongst the slips and gullies.

This next delivery will be pressure,
from wide in the crease
up and in at the hapless right-hander
Let me show these fuckers
who is Man here.

If I can’t get the wicket,
I’ll take the white’s boy’s head.


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