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By Kwame Dawes

South Carolina, c.1950

You got that clean waistcoat,
the bright white of a well-tailored
shirt, you got those loose-as-sacks
slacks and some spit-polished shoes,
and you know, whether you are looking
like money, or about to take a stroll,
to tilt that hat like you own
the world; yeah, smoke your pipe,
roll your tobacco, and hold loose
as authority, your muscles, lithe
and hard; and every so often, when
you feel the urge, you reach into the waist
pocket and pull out that watch on its
chain, then look in the sky and say
Gonna be a cold one when it come,
like God gave you that fancy clock
to tell the future. These are the easy
boys of the goodly South; waiting for
what is out of frame to happen:
the sheriff with his questions, the
paddy wagon, the chain gang, the weight
of the world. Waiting, with such delicate
dignity, fickle as the seasonal sky.

Source: Poetry (April 2018)

  • Activities
  • Living
  • Social Commentaries

Poet Bio

Kwame Dawes
Born in Ghana in 1962, Kwame Dawes spent most of his childhood in Jamaica. Dawes’s work reporting on HIV/AIDS in Haiti after the earthquake formed a key component of reporting done by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting that won the National Press Club Joan Friedenberg Award for Online Journalism and was released as Voices of Haiti (2012). Dawes is currently the Glenna Luschei Editor of Prairie Schooner and Chancellor’s Professor of English at the University of Nebraska. The co-founder and programming directory of the Calabash International Literary Fesitval, he also teaches in the Pacific MFA Writing Program and is on the faculty of Cave Canem. See More By This Poet

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