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Poem Based on a Line by Forman
Ken Norton as 'Mandingo'
Ecstatic Moment



Poem Based on a Line by Forman*

Who's to say this sidewalk's
solid               Whose to say this side
walk's where to walk                Who
to say this side's
the side to walk     	Whose
to say to walk          To walk who to
what side
Whose to say Who Is	         To say
who is to say	         Whose
side	   Walk where
Who is
           Say Who

*"Young Black Question" by Ruth Forman




as ignorant as foxes
as African as Elvis
as terse as lawyers
as mainstream as peace
as today as Sputnik
as decisive as a politician
as uninfluenced as polls
as militant as Topsy
as retro as next year
as Hip Hop as The Met
as familiar as justice
as universal as Navaho
as funky as Greenland
as popular as freedom
as accurate as race
as quotidian as tears

(for Mendi Lewis Obadike)



Ken Norton as 'Mandingo'

They want me for my body
and my name – the guy who
busted Ali's jaw, in his first film! –
just to sell some tickets. Just like
boxing. Just as fixed.
I'm no actor, not the star.
They named the movie after
my guy, but didn’t give me much
to say.

The old slave fighters
visit me, Molineaux
and others, whisper
behind the arc lights Do us
This whole thing seems
strange to them: the shackles
quick-release, masters' whips
that crack an inch above our backs.
White men saying,

Come, Go, Stand
Here, Move There.



Molineaux: Tom Molineaux (1784-1818) former slave given his freedom due to his boxing ability, he fought the British heavyweight champion in 1810 and 1811.



Ecstatic Moment

Pages flip back on me
as if about to speak.

He writes this text each night
blooming under thumb

and index finger, dark
as a mirror, silent as the moon

a modifier for desire,
the conjugation of intent

translating a chorus
of Masks and Genitals

Why are we always greasy?
Why are we always

Shining? Frustration’s tart
magic, music of what remains

on the eye. As if about to speak.
Eloquence of forgotten memory

a thing to reckon with, Vowel heavy,
a language suffering packet loss

to wrap the tongue around,
conjugations accurate as a blood shot eye

wandering the blind forest,
as if about to speak.

Voyeurism and repetition
the god spill of a nacreous act

curiosity the compass
past a skin past asking hunger’s blunt

insistent flame. The facsimile
of a simulacrum variations on the question

Are you there? A semblance of
the whole. Mon semblance

Mon frere, tool maker:
These things are things made

things, not pictures of things
                                                                          but things.	    As if about to speak.