Monday, January 15, 2018

Shafro

By Terrance Hayes

Now that my afro’s as big as Shaft’s
I feel a little better about myself.
How it warms my bullet-head in Winter,

black halo, frizzy hat of hair.
Shaft knew what a crown his was,
an orb compared to the bush

on the woman sleeping next to him.
(There was always a woman
sleeping next to him. I keep thinking,

If I’d only talk to strangers...
grow a more perfect head of hair.)
His afro was a crown.

Bullet after barreling bullet,
fist-fights & car chases,
three movies & a brief TV series,

never one muffled strand,
never dampened by sweat--
I sweat in even the least heroic of situations.

I’m sure you won’t believe this,
but if a policeman walks behind me, I tremble:
What would Shaft do? What would Shaft do?

Bits of my courage flake away like dandruff.
I’m sweating even as I tell you this,
I’m not cool,

I keep the real me tucked beneath a wig,
I’m a small American frog.
I grow beautiful as the theatre dims.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Snow Day

By Billy Collins

Today we woke up to a revolution of snow,
its white flag waving over everything,
the landscape vanished,
not a single mouse to punctuate the blankness,
and beyond these windows

the government buildings smothered,
schools and libraries buried, the post office lost
under the noiseless drift,
the paths of trains softly blocked,
the world fallen under this falling.

In a while, I will put on some boots
and step out like someone walking in water,
and the dog will porpoise through the drifts,
and I will shake a laden branch
sending a cold shower down on us both.

But for now I am a willing prisoner in this house,
a sympathizer with the anarchic cause of snow.
I will make a pot of tea
and listen to the plastic radio on the counter,
as glad as anyone to hear the news

that the Kiddie Corner School is closed,
the Ding-Dong School, closed.
the All Aboard Children’s School, closed,
the Hi-Ho Nursery School, closed,
along with—some will be delighted to hear—

the Toadstool School, the Little School,
Little Sparrows Nursery School,
Little Stars Pre-School, Peas-and-Carrots Day School
the Tom Thumb Child Center, all closed,
and—clap your hands—the Peanuts Play School.

So this is where the children hide all day,
These are the nests where they letter and draw,
where they put on their bright miniature jackets,
all darting and climbing and sliding,
all but the few girls whispering by the fence.

And now I am listening hard
in the grandiose silence of the snow,
trying to hear what those three girls are plotting,
what riot is afoot,
which small queen is about to be brought down.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

The Snow Is Deep on the Ground

By Kenneth Patchen 

The snow is deep on the ground.   
Always the light falls
Softly down on the hair of my belovèd.

This is a good world. 
The war has failed. 
God shall not forget us. 
Who made the snow waits where love is. 

Only a few go mad. 
The sky moves in its whiteness 
Like the withered hand of an old king.   
God shall not forget us. 
Who made the sky knows of our love. 

The snow is beautiful on the ground.   
And always the lights of heaven glow   
Softly down on the hair of my belovèd.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Daddy Gave Me Away

over an all-you-can-eat
buffet, a Gravely lawn mower
my only dowry.

So I moved from daddy's home
to his shiny new kitchen,
where I learned to cook
country fried steak
for a husband's fattening stomach
and washed dirty work
uniforms to kill the smell
of grease and soured sweat.

I learned the recipes
by heart at first, and then
gradually learned to dash
in spices for interest,
praying for a secret ingredient,
for some perfect seasoning
to make the deal my daddy made
work, to make my life bearable.

At 17, I knew nothing of the trade,
but time and heat gave rise
to a woman, and she left him,
his kitchen, stomach, mower,
and daddy too.

No daddy, I'm not through,
If God made man from dust,
I can do better.

By Katherine Perry

Katherine Perry has a new book of poetry out, Long Alabama Summer.