Tuesday, December 30, 2008

More Questions for Charles:

Voice X, accompanied by the Darkey Choir:

“Sun and Moon and Stars
Decay; Time
Will soon this Earth
Remove. Arise
My soul and haste
To seats prepared above.”

Before he left, nothing is said
Of Charles except that he was six
And came, via horse,
From Missouri.
That’s all until
“He left.”
Before he came he did not:
“Assemble in considerable numbers” (20 lashes)
“At places of religious worship” (20 lashes)
“At schools for teaching them reading or writing” (20 lashes)
This was so he could not write his own passes
And without a pass he could not go
Without his Owner’s supervision

Because, in Virginy, in 1831 for instance,
A misguided Owner who was
too, we must conclude,
Deluded in Methodism, taught
A niggra Boy (He called him Nat.) to read
The Holy Writ
(As tho it mattered to a nearly ape.)
Tho this was broken law, and once
He’d turned from Boy to Buck,
Styled himself “Prophet”
Preaching to his dark-
ey choir about the fiery wheel
He and his followers
In the heat of that August
Did begin:
“A Most Murderous Rampage
Which left
Sixty good white people dead,
Including his (fool) owner.
The militia pursued him
And did discover ten
decapitated little White Children
Tossed in a bloody pile.”
(Hanged November 11, body given to physicians
for dissection.)”

So Charles, we will, for convenience sake conclude
You could not read or write
Your name, unless
You made an X.

Did you know anything at all?
Did your Mammy tell you from whence you came?
Could you say, at six, how the world was made?

Voice X:
“The Crossroad is the moment of decision.
Oludumare, the encompassing divine,
Sent his Prophet
To deliver a snail shell
To the world.
It was discovered
That only water lay below.
Inside the shell
The Prophet found
A net, some dirt,
And a rooster with 5 toes.

The net was thrown on the water,
The dirt upon the net,
And the rooster set
To scratch it, and
The land commanded to increase.
“Be expanded quickly!”
Said the Prophet
And the Earth was made.”

How you came to be here is known -
But Charles,
When you left,
Where did you go?
Today did I meet
Your dna walking on the street?
Have I loved some relic
Of your shape?

The shape of the hill
Is silent,
The primordial sea
That reflected these same stars
Has receded
And left the mystery intact
Knowledge sleeps in the
Barn, a child burrowed into the hay,
Watching the hard glint and twinkle
Of heaven far away. The sweet
Cloy of manure below, the winey
Cattle breath in frosty clouds -
No mama to hold onto now,
It’s just him and Pete.

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