Thursday, January 29, 2009

From Michael S. Harper, Dear John, Dear Coltrane

"Near Colorado"

The chestnut colt
appreciates the green;
never overwhelmed
by its scarcity,
the peaks are rigidly brown.
Occasional horses,
some lying down,
escape gully wind,
sound, and seep the sun
sorting their coats:
bitterness is no more than the weather.
The trucks linger on the summits
like cattle gasping in the distance;
you, a thousand miles westward,
are human, woman, sometimes mine.

"Crisis in the Midlands: St. Louis, Missouri"

Stymied in my leave-taking
I ponder the two vacant days
I have spent in this river town;
My first impression was its cold
Resemblance to Cleveland,
Where through crowded districts,
Blocks of empty lots crowd
The crowded into the old
Slave quarters.
Weary with its dankness,
The slow ebullient waters,
Bland, the pinched
Houses, abandoned
Flights from disaster, I harbour
That festered wound
Internal, and the silence
Of each poisoned day's burning.

"Lookout Point: USS San Francisco"

The gale winds
ripen the cheeks
which splice broken
blood vessels
and force the retreat
to their cars.
The idlers gaze
in agitation
taunting each bridge suicide
from his ecstatic perch:
and the idlers are many.
From Tiburon,
San Quentin,
from the plains
of our mutual despair;
their love is the hidden
displacement of fear,
and they ride, softly,
weaving in the wind
which drives each down
to the waters below.

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