American Sonnet for My Past and Future Assassin [When James Baldwin & Audre Lorde each lend]
When James Baldwin & Audre Lorde each lend
Stevie Wonder an eyeball, he immediately contends
With gravity, falling either to his knees or flat on
His luminous face. I’ve heard several versions
Of the story. In this one Audre Lorde dons
Immaculate French loafers, turtlenecked ballgown,
And afro halo. An eye-sized ruby glimmers on
A pinky ring that’s a hair too big for Jimmy Baldwin’s
Pinky. He’s blue with beauty. They’re accustomed
To being followed, but now, the eye-patch twins
Will be especially scary to white people. Looking upon
Them, Wonder’s head purples with plural visions
Of blackness, gavels, grapples, purrs, pens. Ten to one
Odds God also prefers to be referred to as They & Them.
Copyright © 2019 by Terrance Hayes. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on April 26, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.
About this Poem
"I hope this poem both speaks for itself and is readable between the lines. Let’s say it all happened sometime in the early 70’s."
The 2010 winner of the National Book Award in poetry, Terrance Hayes is the author of five poetry collections. He currently serves on the Board of Chancellors of the Academy of American Poets.
Date Published: 2019-04-26
Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/american-sonnet-my-past-and-future-assassin-when-james-baldwin-audre-lorde-each-lend