The Stripling

1 Samuel 17:56

The field soldiers remember the triumph,
a lithe boy’s naal on the head of giant,
before the king rode through the ranks
to inquire about his parentage or the prince
had him bathed, his hair scented with sweet herbs.

After the crowds dwindled, because neither
one’s cunning nor the adulation of the victorious
are nourishment, and the battle, having made him
hungry, alone and in silence, the boy
slowly ate the brain of the giant.

A stripling, to tell the truth, the boy grew—
mad with the taste—savored the giant brain
and learned its ways, became a giant,
begat giants, who craved and ate all
the people in the land, except their own.
 

More by Dante Micheaux

Enemies

        [for Ishion Hutchinson]

The thing about entertaining them,
about keeping their company,
about fraternizing,
is you must remember
they are bloodless
and have many faces,
though it’s easy enough
to walk in sunlight,
where either you or they
become invisible,
never together seen;
easy to get in bed with them,
to bed them,
to be seduced by them—
listing in their own dominance.
Remember what makes one human,
animal, is not the high road
but the baseness in the heart,
the knowledge that they could,
at any moment, betray you.

Garcia Lorca Meets Crane

Had the metropolitan afternoon not bored him,
the lack of sea air and pure sun not made him long for Andalusía,
or Ángel Flores—intellectual of the rich port—not had a remedy,
the poet in New York might never have crossed the East River
to engage in a conversation that, had language not been a barrier,
went like this:

        Señor Crane, el placer es mio. Usted ve que los maricas
 de Granada nunca podrían hacer impunemente de recibir tantos marineros
en un hogar a un tiempo. Pleasure—your poems proceed you. Excuse 
the mess, one never knows what might wash ashore. Angel, why 
didn't you ring to announce your coming?

To which Flores replied, "Since when has any man ever announced
his coming in this apartment, dear heart?"

Angel, you're a scoundrel! Ángel, él es un sinvergüenzo maravilloso.

Mire a estos muchachos, bajo permiso y ¡todavía! incapaz de escapar uno
al otro ¡Borrachos y formando escándalos! What did he say?

To which Flores replied, "He said that you have a charming gathering here."

Yes—the borough's less fashionable gentleman's club. Señor Crane...Angel,
tell him the formality is not necessary.

To which Flores replied, "No tan formal, Federico. Por favor."

...arrrt—disculpame, la pronunciación es difícil—Ángel y yo caminamos
sobre un magnifico puente. Dime, en serio, ¿colga allí?

From which Flores translates, "He wants to know about the bridge."

Isn't it magnificent? Can you believe it just hangs there, no support?
I'm composing a rather lengthy piece about it.

From which Flores translates, "Sí. Está componiendo un pedazo
sobre el puente."

And what have you been working on since your arrival?

From which Flores translates, "¿Qué estás escribiendo?"

Tanto como uno puede, sobre la vida en una residencia.

[exact translation]

Well, hopefully we can inspire you. Would you all like some whiskey?

[exact translation]

Absolutamente. Y una pareja de estos marineros.

From which which Flores translates, "Yes he would. But none for me, thank you."

Good company and some old-fashion hooch should take your mind
off the anonymity of New York.

[exact translation]

(laughter)

Cheers! Salud! (pause) Federico would you like to stay the afternoon?

[exact translation]

¡Claro! Ángel, sobra tiempo?

To which Flores replies, "Tu puedes pero yo...¡no!"

Hart, dear...Federico is going to stay. I have an article to finish.
Te dejo a su vicio particular.

And that is how Ángel Flores left them. One poet with another,
in a Brooklyn flat, filled with cigarette smoke, sailors and their musk,
the taste of whiskey on the tongue and, perhaps, the skin.

The Second Beautiful Harvest

I wake in the golden belly of this abode
and sense some diurnal grace at work.
I take my body to the fall, to bathe
and anoint my genitals with shea.
I have made my journey to the cold hills
to commune with my people there.
I come for the second beautiful harvest
and have waited long to look into its eye.
The harvest hosts libations, the meal
and my desire—so I drink the deep
heady liquid of its languid stare, under
the hum of many voices: burgeoning
friendships and reunion in the low light.
I break into the soft weirdness of injera
and dip my fingers into the meat stew,
to celebrate the glory of the kings.
The clear splendor of the serving boy,
his slow blink as of a camel, does not
distract me—here to reap but seduced
by the second beautiful harvest.