02 April 2009

Cornelius Eady

[from Cornelius Eady's Brutal Imagination, G. P. Putnam, 2001]

Running Man

I am the running man.
The shadow in the corner
Of your eye,

The reason a grove of trees
Turns sinister in the dark.

Why not
Is my blood,
My story,
My middle name.

God made me pretty.
God made me smart.
God made me black,
Which only proves

God's infinite sense of humor.

Where I come from,
A smart black boy
Is like being a cat
With a duck's bill.

Where I live
The neighbors say
He's so bright
But mean
He's so white

And stare in awe
And pity as
I keep turning

Call me a
Useless miracle.

Until my eyes
Fell upon the
I was just
a drowsy boy.

I admit the words
Tickled my ear
And shook
My tongue
My teeth,

I'm sure it looked
Like violation.

I'm sure it looked like
Anger, slowly
Rinsing over
My body.

I was talking
In another tongue,
The language
That measured
Me and mine

The civilized tones
Which burned
And noosed
And dusted our roofs
With never enough.

Perhaps my folks withdrew
From the sight
Of me, eyes

As the words
chose me.

I am the running man.
The chill you feel
Blowing out
A back alley.

When you say no
But mean yes
You have passed
My doorstep.

I am whispered
I rise on anger's

Where in the world
Will he land,
Worried my folks,
This pretty black
What pushes him up

Will keep him down.

Brutal Imagination: Poems

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