The Tree of Knowledge

The hastily assembled angel saw
One thing was like another thing and that
Thing like another everything     depend-
ed on     how high it was     the place you saw

Things from     and he had seen the Earth from where
A human couldn’t see the Earth     and could-
n’t tell most human things apart    and though
He hadn’t ever really understood

His job he knew it had to do with seeing
And what he saw     was everything would come
Together at the same time everything
Would fall apart     and that was humans thinking

The world was meant for them and other things
Were accidental     or were decora-
tions meant for them and therefore purposeful
That humans thought that God had told them so

And what the hastily assembled angel
Thought     was that probably God had said the same thing
To every living thing     on Earth and on-
ly stopped when one said Really back     but then

Again     the hastily assembled angel
Couldn’t tell human things apart     and maybe
That Really mattered what     would he have heard
Holy     or maybe Folly     or maybe Kill me

More by Shane McCrae

Whose Story of Us We Is Told Is Us

Brother is we is each of us we ghosts

Brother of white folks we

don't never known us brother we

Because we never doesn't fits

Nowhere we brother

doesn't fits in bodies



Our bodies we is always walking leaking

like a ghost can't be a body in one place

But every eyes     / Catches and pulls at it

Like every eyes in any

white folks is another

Hole in our bodies



Brother     / Is we is never known them close

Up close     whose ghosts we brother leaking is

Whose story of us we is told is us     is water in a fist

Brother we not the fist

we not the water

we the thirst

The Ballad of Cathay Williams William Cathay


A white man wouldn't less

He stripped me naked was

Whipping me know

I was a woman     got

A name just turn

It inside out

And I'm a man

How else I'm gonna know myself

When I am called




A white man wouldn't twice I had

Smallpox twice after     I enlisted

twice and had / To be

hospitalized both times

Ain't never once

no doctor nor no nurse

Discovered me

No for no white woman

I wouldn't have

nothing for her to see

She would want me to know she seen

And I was watching close

How else I'm gone to know myself

When I am called




And what she see is anyway

how is she gonna know for sure

Black man ain't got

a hole down there

How is she know he ain't

A white man born wrong inside out

and twice as big and mean

And got a hole go twice as deep to hell

How is that woman sure

of anything at all

How else I'm etc

The Best Thing Anyone Ever Said About Paul Celan

Today you will the     say the any ever

best thing any ever anyone

Said about Paul Celan

The world is if it isn’t     does it matter isn’t



waiting     or it might be might as well

Be if it knew     and some

People for some     people the wait is mostly it’s

a world in which the fact of Paul Celan



was and is always will have been and be

A fact and necessary     living in such a world

is the far greater agony the wait is no

agony     not compared to living in that world it is



Absurd to say he wouldn’t Paul Celan would recognize it still

No person ever is naive

but populations are naive and always will be

even innocent



is the far greater agony

It is     / More like a toothache

the pain of the wait for some

More like a pain in the hole from which



You even now prepare yourself to speak

Related Poems

The Alien

I'm back again scrutinizing the Milky Way
          of your ultrasound, scanning the dark			   			              	
                    matter, the nothingness, that now the heads say
          is chockablock with quarks & squarks,
gravitons & gravitini, photons & photinos. Our sprout,
			
who art there inside the spacecraft
               of your Ma, the time capsule of this printout,
               hurling & whirling towards us, it's all daft
          on this earth. Our alien who art in the heavens,
our Martian, our little green man, we're anxious
				
to make contact, to ask divers questions
          about the heavendom you hail from, to discuss
                    the whole shebang of the beginning&end,
          the pre-big bang untime before you forget the why
and lie of thy first place. And, our friend,

to say Welcome, that we mean no harm, we'd die	
          for you even, that we pray you're not here
                    to subdue us, that we'd put away
          our ray guns, missiles, attitude and share
our world with you, little big head, if only you stay.