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By Elizabeth Alexander

We pull off

to a road shack

in Massachusetts

to watch men walk


on the moon. We did   

the same thing

for three two one

blast off, and now


we watch the same men   

bounce in and out

of craters. I want

a Coke and a hamburger.


Because the men

are walking on the moon   

which is now irrefutably   

not green, not cheese,


not a shiny dime floating   

in a cold blue,

the way I’d thought,

the road shack people don’t


notice we are a black   

family not from there,   

the way it mostly goes.   

This talking through


static, bounces in space-

boots, tethered   

to cords is much   

stranger, stranger


even than we are.


Elizabeth Alexander, “Apollo” from Poetry (April 1992). Reprinted with the permission of the author.

Source: The Poetry Anthology, 1912-2002 (Poetry magazine, 2002)

Poet Bio

Born in Harlem, Elizabeth Alexander was educated at Yale, Boston University, and the University of Pennsylvania, where she took her doctorate. She has been on the faculties at Haverford College, the University of Chicago, Smith, and is the former chair of the African American Studies Department at Yale. Her first book, The Venus Hottentot, includes a tour de force monologue, spoken by Sara Baartman who was taken from South Africa and exhibited before European audiences as anatomical oddity. Other poems use a variety of voices, including the boxer Muhammad Ali, to address racial, gender, and cultural divisions. In 2009 she read one of her poems at President Obama's inauguration.

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