Three Poems by Evan Cutts

 

A Hunting Tale

Hunched beneath the conspiring moon // the ceaseless pursue the scattered

On the run       freedom is bound by kinship
shakes to howl-songs     in the trees
dreams of boston—a mythic north

albeit just as white      as ready to snap
across the union’s back           marshal us under southern dirt
can’t you smell it?        not the blood     the fear

a boll of cankerous smoke       billowing
above blackest flesh—garland husks     for poplars
don’t ignore it               not when Freddie’s bones rotting black

blue     in god’s house—holyspirit be a veiled breath
the fire ain’t swallow yet           be the severed spine
they fear    in the backseat   of this untamed wood    fists

claiming the freedom forbade our weary countless
upright until     dusk collected the salt   of our flesh
in red and         white stripes   and      then…

It’s fear that ghosts the man   shrivels the heart
turns it    to a passionate cold       a haunting
no more human than     he ever wanted to be

still      he thinks himself   an edenic gardener
praises his white lord   for this wealth
praises   his white         hands palms sealed

like he raised all these crops    hisself
as if the sweat off his brow      watered the maize
and his calloused hands   hoed the earth

but clutching a whip will rough up ya hands   just as well      as picking would
I read that:       Anything dead coming back to life hurts
(a truth for all time…that is)[1]

tell me    don’t it pain you
raising us folk       near-as-dead
on our feet        just to beat us        down to the knee?

won’t even lay us down
leave us   no patch of country    to call our own
but we dyin’ to give  it life

why don’t it twist your soul sour
when you force our smiles     against shame   with the horse’s bit?
how come    it don’t flay the soul    you claim to have?

___

The hunter calls to his best friend:

Here, boy. Who’s a good boy?
Some fine work you did yonder.
How about we catch us
another… Go on, git! Find me
‘nother nigger in this country
who thinks hisself free—
Kill ’em.

___

In Memory of All the Stolen & Unnamed People Who Lost Their Lives in Enslavement & in Resistance

The wind whistles past the hound       in snarling pursuit
and a reunion of Black bones
unlynched from the branches,
unearthed from Our violent sorrows,
gathers at the forest’s bloodied edge.

The hunter cannot fathom what Black magic summoned us here
We who deny Death    its pound of flesh
nor can he comprehend the imminence of freedom:
Our names       immortalized in Our mouths
a continent of sorrowless songs
reaching forward
and back through history to field a home

We can return to

 

Encounter with Black Magic
—Brookline High School, c. March 2010

I articulate when I speak / and [unidentified whiteboy] addresses me
with a name that is not my own / but is

a round box I won’t fit into:                 Oreo

I speak again / [whiteboy] becomes
cream-filling                spilling

     onto asphalt    sudden

as sun / shining Black.

I remind [once-whiteboy]:       I name myself

hex context from the rawhide whip you made
your tongue and lay it in open air

I tell him: call me what you will / I will myself
to my own body / and call it home.

 

 

Grahamstown Sequence

An account of the #QueerToStay “Take Back the Night” demonstration at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown, South Africa – July, 9th 2016
1. Discovery

I    fall   in    line  //  behind a
dozen       hands         holding
cameras focused on the man
leading  the procession  //  a
Black  man  /  in   a   pensive
state  /  dressed  in  lace  /   a
white    skirt    /   a   rainbow
leotard bleeding through  //
no   torch—an  umbrella  of
lights in  his right hand  //  I
can’t see his  face  where  I’m
standing—can    tell     he    is
looking   down  /  eyes  fixed
on the pavement  /  on every
step    between    him    /   his
destination  //  I don’t know
where     we    are   going—or
exactly      why       /      I walk
half     a     block   /   am told:
Rhodes Theater—march for
solidarity          /           against
homophobia   and   violence
twice-revolved           in     the
nightclubs  this  week  —  to
disarm the night

2. On the Corner of Prince Alfred

and Somerset  /  across from
New Street, the nightclubs /
the    Black     man    wearing
white—walking rainbow //
halts  // a ring of folks semi-
circled around with lantern
light // watching the silence
/ until it breaks..how? / All
that  music bumpin a street
over     and     I    hear     him
crying—morning mist quiet
as his shoulders hang / a low
fog       /       obscuring     his
expression—I  imagine   his
lips  twisted   into   an   ugly
frame   //   an older woman
steps in  /  hugs him close /
then a camera flashes: now
the movement is  /  a news
story      /     the     moment:
immortal

3. Arrival

four lanterns
in a row before us;

on the theatre step,
humanity’s sharpness

in singular form: black
robe, black hood

dressed steel
ominous

the shade-being
with blades

then the Black man in lace—
the Rainbow

ascends
the stairs

places lantern light
between them;

edges ring
a binary bleeds

the Rainbow, utters nothing
lets the night scream

across two swords
circling sundial

and the crowd,
shuffling, is silent

then,
still

Sithembile’s got
all the light…

 4. Revolution

…Sithembile becomes // Sun // escaping into first orbit //
nothing collapses // the Shade is space

waning // and He is rainbow, still // always //
His light // refracts again at the source of Himself //

waxing rebellious // He revolves apart a prismatic light // it dances //
the vorpal space between them closed // look, all the shadows

are shrinking // His hands reach for Their hands // nothingness
recedes to the Big Bang // two pairs of hands hold

revolution // what’s left? // joining is the end //
is the part when Sun lets gravity go // rises and

walks away // uncasts the biggest shadow // and disarmed, humanity follows

[1 Lines from Toni Morrison’s Beloved]

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