Michael S. Harper

M
Michael S. Harper
Kin 2
When news came that your mother’d
smashed her hip, both feet caught
in rungs of the banquet table,
our wedding rebroken on the memory
of the long lake of silence
when the stones of her body
broke as an Irish fence of stones,
I saw your wet dugs drag
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Makin’ Jump Shots
He waltzes into the lane
’cross the free-throw line,
fakes a drive, pivots,
floats from the asphalt turf
in an arc of black light,
and sinks two into the chains.

One on one he fakes
down the main, passes
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47
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Here Where Coltrane Is
Soul and race
are private dominions,
memories and modal
songs, a tenor blossoming,
which would paint suffering
a clear color but is not in
this Victorian house
without oil in zero degree
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30
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The Love Letters of Helen Pitts Douglass
When I stood behind his desk chair
and when he sat, on rare occasions,
on the porch, “sage of Anacostia,”
they called him, I smelled his mane
glorious, and as a hand saddle
the aroma of hair took me to neckline
and below. In Egypt, long after
Napoleon had shot off the face
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32
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American History
Those four black girls blown up
in that Alabama church
remind me of five hundred
middle passage blacks,
in a net, under water
in Charleston harbor
so redcoats wouldn't find them.
Can't find what you can't see
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34
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Clan Meeting: Births and Nations: A Blood Song
We reconstruct lives in the intensive
care unit, pieced together in a buffet
dinner: two widows with cancerous breasts
in their balled hands; a 30-year-old man
in a three-month coma
from a Buick and a brick wall;
a woman who bleeds off and on from her gullet;
a prominent socialite, our own nurse,
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39
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Dear John, Dear Coltrane
a love supreme, a love supreme
a love supreme, a love supreme Sex fingers toes
in the marketplace
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36
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Debridement
Debridement
Black men are oaks cut down.

Congressional Medal of Honor Society
United States of America chartered by
Congress, August 14, 1958; this certifies
that STAC John Henry Louis is a member
of this society.

“Don’t ask me anything about the
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34
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Double Elegy
Whatever city or country road
you two are on
there are nettles,
and the dark invisible
elements cling to your skin
though you do not cry
and you do not scratch
your arms at forty-five degree angles
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33
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Grandfather

In 1915 my grandfather’s
neighbors surrounded his house
near the dayline he ran
on the Hudson
in Catskill, NY
and thought they’d burn
his family out
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34
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Jazz Station
for sandy and henry carlile

Some great musicians got no place to play Above the freeway, over the music,
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42
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The Militance of a Photograph in the Passbook of a Bantu under Detention
Peace is the active presence of Justice. The wrinkles on the brown face
of the carrying case
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33
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Nightmare Begins Responsibility
I place these numbed wrists to the pane
watching white uniforms whisk over
him in the tube-kept
prison
fear what they will do in experiment
watch my gloved stickshifting gasolined hands
breathe boxcar-information-please infirmary tubes
distrusting white-pink mending paperthin
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40
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Sandra: At the Beaver Trap
1
Nose only above water;
an hour in the ice melt;
paw in a beaver trap,
northern leaping through—
the outlet sieving, setter-
retriever staked to her trip,
The stake of her young
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38
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