By Kevin Young
Wake to find everything black
what was white, all the vice
versa—white maids on TV, black
sitcoms that star white dwarfs
cute as pearl buttons. Black Presidents,
Black Houses. White horse
candidates. All bleach burns
clothes black. Drive roads
white as you are, white songs
on the radio stolen by black bands
like secret pancake recipes, white back-up
singers, ball-players & boxers all
white as tar. Feathers on chickens
dark as everything, boiling in the pot
that called the kettle honky. Even
whites of the eye turn dark, pupils
clear & changing as a cat’s.
Is this what we’ve wanted
& waited for? to see snow
covering everything black
as Christmas, dark pages written
white upon? All our eclipses bright,
dark stars shooting across pale
sky, glowing like ash in fire, shower
every skin. Only money keeps
green, still grows & burns like grass
under dark daylight.
Kevin Young, "Negative" from To Repel Ghosts: The Remix. Copyright © 2005 by Kevin Young, published by Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. Reprinted by permission of Steerforth Press.
Source: To Repel Ghosts: The Remix (Alfred A. Knopf, 2005)
More By This Poet
I am Trying to Break Your Heart
I am hoping
to hang your head
on my wall
the slightest taxidermy
thrills me. Fish
on the living-room wall—
of small animals.
I want to wear
your smile on my sleeve
your heart like a horse
or its leg. Weeks of being
bucked off, then
I hunted heaven
it was. Not enough
music, or dark dirt.
I begged the earth empty
of him. Death
believes in us whether
or not. For a long while
I watch the sound
of a boy bouncing a ball
down the block
take its time
More Poems about Social Commentaries
A wishbone branch falls
from my Grandma Thelma’s oak
What do you know about magic? e1 asks.
E bends e old body down, turns
the wishbone branch into
a cross, places it around my neck.
I am strapped at the Black River’s right shoulder,
I want to put down what the mountain has awakened.
My mouthful of grass.
My curious tale. I want to stand still but find myself moved patch by patch.
There's a bleat in my throat. Words fail me here. Can you understand? I...