I shall return again; I shall return
To laugh and love and watch with wonder-eyes
At golden noon the forest fires burn,
Wafting their blue-black smoke to sapphire skies.
I shall return to loiter by the streams
That bathe the brown blades of the bending grasses,
And realize once more my thousand dreams
Of waters rushing down the mountain passes.
I shall return to hear the fiddle and fife
Of village dances, dear delicious tunes
That stir the hidden depths of native life,
Stray melodies of dim remembered runes.
I shall return, I shall return again,
To ease my mind of long, long years of pain.
From Harlem Shadows (New York, Harcourt, Brace and company, 1922) by Claude McKay. This poem is in the public domain.
Here is a description of hundreds of years in which I never comprehend it is hundreds of years, passing “We lived together,” I write, but what does that mean Last night A. convinced me you are a parasite OK, you’re a parasite, that’s interesting My blood mixes with the blood of the flea And we’re having another poetry lesson It always takes hundreds of years You’ve interrupted us in the midst of our poetry lesson I mean “you,” the reader, have interrupted “us” By which I mean, the bad “you” and, of course, “me” Out of which construction some American relativism Comes… Meanwhile, the flea has returned to Iowa Ah, flea, let’s look into your affairs! You seem to have learned a lot from poetry I truly admired that line about how A phone charger has become entangled in a tree And your love of leopards is a neat neoclassical reference Dionysus animatedly squirting things Here I’ll insert a description of …… ……………………………………. [plus provisional knowledge claim] I wish I could say, “The bad ‘you’ stomps Upon its hat,” or maybe its “hat” Or perhaps “it” “gnashes” “its” soft “teeth” But instead the bad “you” stalks me on email It sends word to remind me that it is “here” I mean, nonchalant, therefore Because this is also poetry Which is why it is part of the lesson And reinforced during office hours The sublime plum The immortal peach The slow death of the humanities Due to pluralism and (?) expense “If I can’t have them nobody can” Is what I wished he’d said Instead he asked me who the fuck I think I am in the Foxhead And the brown stick of the Iowa River We didn’t know much but we knew the river Things occurred and I can remember What my body is, in the traditional manner No politics, except in poems No deeds, except figuratively Here is a description of the pink color of heaven and in standing water Heavens have fallen I am 24 Here is a thread of ice Penetrating the human sciences Once you are here, there is only living Once you were And believed I was good until you no longer believed this Of me
Copyright © 2018 by Lucy Ives. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on March 26, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.