December 4, 2008

evie shockley


a sonnet for stanley tookie williams (12/29/1953 -12/13/2005)

won’t you help to sing these songs of freedom?
‘cause all i ever have: redemption songs.
--bob marley

all month this country has careened toward cold
and winter’s celebrations: what a star
announced—a birth—and then a chance to fold
a year away, pull one fresh from the drawer,

if not clean, well, unworn. in just a few
months arrives the ice-hot day of the dead-
come-back-to-life—time then to ask how new
and re- beginnings differ. mary bled

for the december miracle, as some-
one must. did you imagine sacrifice
as you called the crips to life? did they come,
those youngbloods, at the crackling of your voice,

like lazarus to christ? vigilant night.
on the road to san quentin, candlelight.

December 19, 2005

this poem first appeared in, the southern review.

to see the minus

the ghost. the thing we could touch if its throbbing
absence were any more vast, any more like a molecule

of jupiter, all mass, weighing us down, but nothing
we can put a finger on. we squint to see the minus: water
take away holy, take away book, take away tree, take away

phantom limb, a connection our brains keep trying to make
with the dead and gone. minus family, minus portrait,

minus heirloom, minus hand-me-down, minus hand.
subtract the noise in the streets. subtract the streets. minus

keepsake, minus god’s sake, minus evidence of things unseen:
the ghost. the thing we could touch if our throbbing

phantom limb really connected. our brains keep trying to make
sense of it. the life’s work, the first or second generation’s
at last accumulated wealth, gone with the wind, washed clean

away in polluted water. if ever there were ample space
for faith and despair, it is here. room enough to tackle a vision.

this poem first appeared in, PMS: poemmemoirstory


Evie Shockley is the author of a half-red sea (2006) and two chapbooks, 31 words * prose poems (2007) and The Gorgon Goddess (2001). In 2007, she guest edited ~QUEST~, a special issue of MiPoesias featuring the work of contemporary African American poets. Currently a guest editor of jubilat, she teaches at Rutgers University, New Brunswick.


Catherine said...

"...and then a chance to fold
a year away, pull one fresh from the drawer,

if not clean, well, unworn...."

makes me think of a name for its opposite, "brand clean"

but yes, does one wash years before one wears them?

evie said...

lol! i should have washed some of mine, certainly!