After reading Terrance Hayes first book of poetry I was hooked. I have since purchased all of his work and revel in the beauty of his craft. He has created new forms of poetry which greatly intrigues me because they are now forever like, sonnets, tankas, villanelles, etc. He created the Golden Shovel which is using an existing poem and having each word of that poem woven into his own work! Brilliant. I know this poet will be a bit long, but I really felt like I wanted to share this poem. Enjoy.
Day 10: Lighthead by Terrance Hayes:
Original poem, We Real Cool, by Gwendolyn Brooks:
We real cool.
We Left school. We
Lurk late. We
Strike straight. We
Sing sin. We
Thin gin. We
Jazz June. We
THE GOLDEN SHOVEL, by Terrance Hayes
When I am so small Da’s sock covers my arm, we
cruise at twilight until we find the place the real
men lean, bloodshot and translucent with cool.
His smile is a gold-plated incantation as we
drift by women on bar stools, with nothing left
in them but approachlessness. This is a school
I do not know yet. But the cue sticks mean we
are rubbed by light, smooth as wood. The lurk
of smoke thinned to song. We won’t be out late.
Standing in the middle of the street last night we
watched the moonlit lawns and a neighbor strike
his son in the face. A shadow knocked straight.
Da promised to leave me everything: the shovel we
used to bury the dog, the words he loved to sing,
his rusted pistol, his squeaky Bible, his sin.
The boy’s sneakers were light on the road. We
watched him run to us looking wounded and thin.
He’d been caught lying or drinking his father’s gin.
He’d been defending his ma, trying to be a man. We
stood in the road, and my father talked about jazz,
how sometimes a tune is born of outrage. By June
the boy would be locked upstated. That night we
got donw on our knees in my room. If I should die
before I wake. Da said to me, it will be too soon.
Into the tented city we go, we-
akened by the fire’s ethereal
afterglow. Born lost and cool-
er than heartache. What we
know is what we know. The left
hand severed and school-
ed by cleverness. A plate of we-
ekdays cooking. the hour lurk-
ing in the afterglow. A late-
night chant. Into the city we
go. Close your eyes and strike
a blow. Light can be straight-
ened by its shadow. What we
break is what we hold. A sing-
ular blue note. An outcry sin-
ged exiting the throat. We
push until we thin, thin
king we won’t creep back again.
While God licks his kin, we
sing until our blood is jazz,
we swing from June to June.
We sweat to keep from we-
eping. Groomed on a die-
t of hunger, we end too soon.