By Ross Gay
—for Patrick Rosal
Because I must not
get up to throw down in a café in the Midwest,
I hold something like a clownfaced herd
of bareback and winged elephants
stomping in my chest,
I hold a thousand
kites in a field loosed from their tethers
at once, I feel
my skeleton losing track
somewhat of the science I’ve made of tamp,
feel it rising up shriek and groove,
rising up a river guzzling a monsoon,
not to mention the butterflies
of the loins, the hummingbirds
of the loins, the thousand
dromedaries of the loins, oh body
of sunburst, body
of larkspur and honeysuckle and honeysuccor
bloom, body of treetop holler,
oh lightspeed body
of gasp and systole, the mandible’s ramble,
the clavicle swoon, the spine’s
trillion teeth oh, drift
of hip oh, trill of ribs,
oh synaptic clamor and juggernaut
swell oh gutracket
blastoff and sugartongue
syntax oh throb and pulse and rivulet
swing and glottal thing
and kick-start heart and heel-toe heart
ooh ooh ooh a bullfight
where the bull might
take flight and win!
The epigraph of this poem was originally omitted in the changeover to the new website. Because of this, reciting the epigraph is optional for the 2019-2020 Poetry Out Loud season.
Ross Gay, "A Poem in which I Try to Express My Glee at the Music My Friend Has Given Me" from Bringing the Shovel Down. Copyright © 2011 by Ross Gay. All rights are controlled by the University of Pittsburgh Press, Pittsburgh, PA 15260. Used by permission of University of Pittsburgh Press.
Source: Bringing the Shovel Down (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2011)
More By This Poet
Sorrow Is Not My Name
No matter the pull toward brink. No
matter the florid, deep sleep awaits.
There is a time for everything. Look,
just this morning a vulture
nodded his red, grizzled head at me,
and I looked at him, admiring
the sickle of his beak.
Then the wind kicked...
Friends I am here to modestly report
seeing in an orchard
in my town
a goldfinch kissing
again and again
dangling upside down
by its tiny claws
steadying itself by snapping open
like an old-timey fan
again and again,
until, swooning, it tumbled off
and swooped back to the...
More Poems about Arts & Sciences
Sestina in Prose
It was like climbing a mountain to those of us who’d climbed one. To the others, it was like, I suppose, something else. In other words, we let everybody find her own figure of speech.
Not that it—speech—lay thick on the...
The Heart Shows No Signs
The heart, the surgeon says, does not reveal
the small rifts, the hairline cracks which
split the hairline cracks they conceal cops
and robbers in a stretch of skin flaunting
star-scars with show of blood bone
the ledges of what it holds tight in checkmate
More Poems about Relationships
When I say But mother, Black or not Black,
Of course you are polyethnic, your look does not change
Though it does harden, a drying clay bust
Abandoned or deliberately incomplete,
All the features carved in
Except the eyes. What I’m trying—
I mean—You are an...
“Un Tintero,” Inkwell
Anger is the other person inside
mi garganta, my throat.