Wanda Coleman (2004)


i’ve been here forever on 3 hours of sleep per night
the angel is in the details.

the children have luminous bones
like tropical fish who inhabit volcanic depths. their mentors
cling in clusters like giant tube worms, sightless and glommed to coral

it’s hot here and everything i see is thru the mist of sweat
rising from scalp cheeks groin

every shoe i have tendered hurts, now—invisible corns
and calluses, nails caffeine embittered, damaged by bouts
of scurvy and Cambodian manicurists

it seems my integrity has gotten me elected
Wicked Witch as westerly as i wannabe—if essentially black
every rim a possibility, every brink an option

should the God of Budgets grant me salary and a sturdy sweep,
i’ll attach myself to a reef, fan my tentacles in the irradiated
warmth—glow against the abyss

into which the children flow


 —for and after Joanne Elizabeth Kyger

another morning finds me numbed among the legions
whose protests are cruelly nullified by the daily struggle/
rituals of fear (where is the next crumb coming from?)
all joys spoiled, dance rhythms gone war throes

ever-poor me, my back sclerotic, the afternoons adrift in spells
of dysfunction, staring at news broadcasts/the usual escape
worthless. should i kill off a novel written to free the author from
cancer of the soul or humanities department hell? soon to be major
box office? or follow my God-given moroseness into an eternal sulk?

once i was in touch with life beyond clichés
dared think myself mythic in this wilderness
now reduced to scarfing doobies
like an angel banished earthward
in alleyways and closets

the weight of the sun nails my black eyelids shut
the mattress as seductive as the roiling sky.
home is a stucco prison and i’m stir-crazed
for the route the path the exit the catapult up away
through time
 o wings git me dere

i have erased all the names of all the betrayers, all the cowards
who have doomed me. they shall never find life in my words
and i will only speak their infamies, naming the victims,
proudly penning anthems to the innocent and the damned

(each waking finds me granite-eyed with my gone son’s singings)

the brave must rise the brave must rise
needed: an immediate infusion of national respect for the living
i can’t wait another Christian moment for it

my hate is too precious to waste. i choose my victories as
i choose my battles/a blood diplomacy
convinced the world will be the world
challenging every supposition
subjugating the weak of heart
ultimately our history written by the mighty
and by those unbroken by might

thus, this morning finds me numbed yet belligerent as i rise to join the
my every remaining breath a protest

Poems © Wanda Coleman 2004. All rights reserved.

Note: Formatting changed when posted on WP. Please view original at the Web Archives: http://web.archive.org/web/20061102214524/http://www.mipoesias.com/April2004/coleman.htm

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