By MAJOR JACKSON
Only the skin runs ahead like a spruced-up
dream from which I never awake.
What really exists, no one knows.
In exchange for shook foil,
Hopkins killed the agnostic in him.
I want to kill the polygamist in me.
I am most me in an alley off Market Street
where I pretend to be homeless
and a friend to stray cats like Saint Francis.
My young cousins only want hard words
and money. If the economy sinks, they will
kill you quicker than a brainwave.
I want to give my sympathy to the last
evangelical. Here I am twirling my fork
aching to pierce some roasted strip of thought.
As long as the mind is blaring,
we avoid the straitjackets of conformity.
I am tired of the taste of my life.
I will not sleep for days, for
my egg had a seizure in the frying pan.
This morning, I rub my hands together
back and forth summoning the angels
away from the orthodoxy of facades.
I reach for the peppershaker
on my spice rack and recall all the pimps
of Chelsea and all the Johns on Wall Street.
I see joggers in the street and they remind me
of my most treasured liaisons.
Major Jackson is the author of three collections of poetry: Holding Company, Hoops, and Leaving Saturn, winner of the Cave Canem Poetry Prize and finalist for a National Book Critics Circle Award. He is a recipient of a Whiting Writer’s Award and has been horoed by the Pew Fellowship in the Arts and the Witter Bynner Foundation in conjunction with the Library of Congress. Jackson is the Richard Dennis Green and Gold Professor at University of Vermont and a core faculty member of the Bennington Writing Seminars. He serves as the poetry editor of the Harvard Review.