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87th Virtual Poetry Circle

Welcome to the 87th Virtual Poetry Circle!

Remember, this is just for fun and is not meant to be stressful.

Keep in mind what Molly Peacock’s books suggested. Look at a line, a stanza, sentences, and images; describe what you like or don’t like; and offer an opinion. If you missed my review of her book, check it out here.

It’s a new year, and if you haven’t heard there is a new feature on the blog this year . . . my first ever, poetry reading challenge. Yup, that means everyone should be signing up because all you need to do is read 1 book of poetry.

Today, we’re going to wrap up National Black History month (I know it ended in February) with Gwendolyn Brooks from her collection, Selected Poems:

Negro Hero (page 19)
+++to suggest Dorie Miller

I had to kick their law into their teeth in order to save them.
However I have heard that sometimes you have to deal
Devilishly with drowning men in order to swim them to shore.
Or they will haul themselves and you to the trash and the fish
+++beneath.
(When I think of this, I do not worry about a few
Chipped teeth.)

It is good I gave glory, it is good I put gold on their name.
Or there would have been spikes in the afterward hands.
But let us speak only of my success and the pictures in the
+++Caucasian dailies
As well as the Negro weeklies. For I am a gem.
(They are not concerned that it was hardly The Enemy my
+++fight was against
But them.)

It was a tall time. And of course my blood was
Boiling about in my head and straining and howling and
+++singing me on.
Of course I was rolled on wheels of my boy itch to get at
+++the gun.
Of course all the delicate rehearsal shots of my childhood
+++massed in mirage before me.
Of course I was child
And my first swallow of the liquor of battle bleeding black
+++air dying and demon noise
Made me wild.

It was kinder than that, though, and I showed like a banner
+++my kindness.
I loved. And a man will guard when he loves.
Their white-gowned democracy was my fair lady.
With her knife lying cold, straight, in the softness of her
+++sweet-flowing sleeve.
But for the sake of the dear smiling mouth and the stuttered
+++promise I toyed with my life.
I threw back! — I would not remember
Entirely the knife.

Still–am I good enough to die for them, is my blood bright
+++enough to be spilled,
Was my constant back-question–are they clear
On this? Or do I intrude even now?
Am I clean enough to kill for them, do they wish me to kill
For them or is my place while death licks his lips and strides
+++to them
In the galley still?

(In a southern city a white man said
Indeed, I’d rather be dead;
Indeed, I’d rather be shot in the head
Or ridden to waste on the back of a flood
Than saved by the drop of a black man’s blood.)

Naturally, the important thing is, I helped to save them, them
+++and a part of their democracy.
Even if I had to kick their law into their teeth in order to
+++do that for them.
And I am feeling well and settled in myself because I believe
+++it was a good job,
Despite this possible horror: that they might prefer the
Preservation of their law in all its sick dignity and their
+++knives
To the continuation of their creed
And their lives.

Let me know your thoughts, ideas, feelings, impressions. Let’s have a great discussion…pick a line, pick an image, pick a sentence.

I’ve you missed the other Virtual Poetry Circles. It’s never too late to join the discussion.

  • Not sure I like the style of this poem, but it certainly gives you much food for thought. Particularly the stanza:

    (In a southern city a white man said
    Indeed, I’d rather be dead;
    Indeed, I’d rather be shot in the head
    Or ridden to waste on the back of a flood
    Than saved by the drop of a black man’s blood.)
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