White People Sonnet*
“My pale hands on her pale skin. We shattered
Cigarettes” . . . in the dusk, fingers shaking
As awareness that nothing else mattered
But that we were white and we were making
Poetry, somehow. Mad white people who
Heaped stolen words from conquered enemies
Into robbed forms that we have no right to
Write. For whites have no souls, no poetries,
No abilities other than whiteness,
Paleness, cigarettes that shatter as we
Clutch and grab all that we can. Talentless
Oppressors, privileged thieves of beauty
As we whites are, amazingly enough
There’s depth and meaning in what we write of.
*Written in response to the racist tweet by [email protected]:
white ppl try 2 write poetry like
my pale hands
on her pale skin
we shattered cigarettes.
Remember this: the dawn is the not the day
Even though it hints of light. Often grey
Grows darker, often things grow worse, often
Nothing happens, or worse, things will soften
And weaken and fall apart through delay
And revision. Praise ice when it’s crossed. Weigh
Wisdom by experience. Come what may
Is all that will, the rest is just talking.
As you scan upwards, waiting for some ray
Of illumination to be where they
Say it is: just about to shine down on
This world as soon as it breaks through. Breaking
Of course is key. No matter what they say.
The Great Attempted Chicken Coup
We need to co-exist and share
All that we have with others where
It’s most convenient for them to
Grab what they need from me and you,
The red hen told her chicken flock.
No, not a kernel should you block
From any raccoon, skunk, or rat.
Each one of you is much too fat–
And furthermore there’s so much space–
We need to live with every race
Of animal that lacks a home
And wishes to not have to roam
Much further than this chicken yard
After it eats. Hey, times are hard
For everyone and it’s not good
To cordon off a neighborhood
Like ours because we lay some eggs
And others don’t. Why, that just begs
The question of how you must think:
Egg layers good, non-layers stink?
Why can’t you see how bad it is
When we have chicken privilege
And they don’t have it? It’s not fair
That we live here and they are there.
Handi-capable and diverse
All scavengers like to immerse
Themselves in multiple layers
Of jobs that some purebred Naysayers
(You each know who you are) condemn.
Here the red hen got high-pitched: When
I think about how much we’ve got,
I think about what they have not,
I just want to redistribute
The imbalance. Let’s institute
A new directive that will take
This flock and coop in hand and make
Reparations to the vermin
Who were called the undeserving
Because they don’t lay eggs or get
Fried up for dinner! They’re upset
And I am too!! cried the red hen.
The other chickens listened, then
The Leghorn and the Delaware
(They both knew who they were) said Nah.
Silence descended in the run
The red hen cackled: Any one
Who thinks they’re right and who agrees
With these old biddies, speak up please,
And cast your vote–so we will know–
By clucking two times in a row.
She didn’t think the hens would dare
Expose their secret wishes where
The pecking order could demand
Outcasts become the lowest. And
Then one, then two, then all cluck-clucked.
The die was cast. The rats were chucked.
The red hen slunk away to flaunt
That she would get a cluck recount
As soon as every hen would say
That they would help in every way.
It didn’t matter though because
The vermin never got indoors
And never would. The chickens knew
That they were never going to
Recount, recluck or re-invest
In anything that raided nests
Or ate up corn or gave out lice
Or Hanta virus. Rats and mice
And the rest were not invited
To the coop. A wrong was righted
Before it became any more
Than a proposed new chicken law.
No food was lost, no hens were made
To sleep with skunks or be afraid.
As for the red hen, she got what
She just deserved . . . an outside spot
With all the vermin she could find
(They ate her but she didn’t mind).
“My sun sets to rise again.”–Robert Browning
Rebirth is never easy, death comes first
And with death, decay. There must be nothing
Left. Most people don’t understand. The worst
Must occur, with pain, with blood. Suffering
In despair alone. There must be that sense
Of hopelessness that preys on tragedy
Which creates vast sorrow. The black immense
Horror that waits for all of history
To break apart, to turn to nothing, to
Cease being anything at all so that
We can re-group and re-center, re-do
What was done in error, and return what
Should be to its proper place. Once again
We are reborn. Once again awoken.
La Seconde Venue païenne de Yeats
A Yankee Poet in Greenwich Village
Remembering William Butler Yeats:
June 13, 1865–January 28, 1939
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