05 July 2006
Poem: Is English Your First Language?
I just realized that, although I've been meaning to post poems here, I've been very bad about doing so. To remedy that, I thought I'd put up this one, which appeared in Issue #48 of Washington DC's grand annual literary cornicopia Gargoyle. Many thanks to Richard Peabody and everyone at the journal, and those who were at the launch reading in DC, (where The Other Half took this photo of your less-than-regular Blogger on stage)
Is English Your First Language?
Try evasion, ellipsis, and regret.
Or silence, unabridged, volumes spoken
with a whisper, encyclopedic furtive glances
in an echoing house dressed and lit for Scenes
of Childhood, the ever changing lines rewritten
every night. Improvisation: American family breakfast – action!
Primers on mind- and palm-reading the most helpful
dictionaries for translating the fading Braille of a hard
sentence across the butt, or face. Code- and willow-
switching learns you good: English is a conditional tongue:
only adults can misuse it, curse, or lie.
When outside the house say ___
Outside the family say ___
When white folks are around, say nothing.