A Legacy

All this noisy commotion isolated a fairly
small universe of nothing special.
I had faced the assistant to the incumbent, 
his failed face of poetry bottomless 
with self-pride and a satisfaction that fed his wolf. 
And he was a wolf
and when I scoffed at him 
with some penetration I could see the clamor 
of his wounds but also the vanity 
in his recognitions. He believed I was undeserving
and thought it his right to judge, and his
judgment, a stun gun, took
my gender and race and euthanized
its center, and he thought this 
was an extension of the occult, 
that it was the intuition 
of a bright star
affecting forward. 
I wanted him to see this in a particular
light but the particular worsened into 
a bruise of matter far more inhumane,
and I fell into its hole and he, with his glee,
had no idea, because his gender and race
gave him the privilege to look down
and see how my skeleton warped my will
but not the firmament of my broadness,
and what I know now as measuring across
power and enduring many luminary deficits
that come out of symptoms and their fallen edges. 

Copyright © 2014 by Prageeta Sharma. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-a-Day on March 13, 2014. Browse the Poem-a-Day archive.

About this Poem

“‘A Legacy’ was written as a reflection about the social intersections between a number of things as they relate to (institutional and non-institutional) poetry: gender, race, generational shifts, power and teaching out of (and also without) an ethos. I wanted to ask: what we do with our ‘identity politics’ when we suffer them as embodied along with their consequences? When are they not symbolic? Or when can the poem be unable to hold their symbolism? Also, I dislike hierarchies about poetry: I don’t like it when people are ‘wolves’ and judge who gets to participate and who doesn’t. I wrote the poem to examine a certain kind of hungry, ambitious artist, poet-judge, an ‘assistant to the incumbent,’ who perceives the ‘poetry-gate’ but fails to recognize human beings outside of poems.”
—Prageeta Sharma