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In again Out again

by David Gewanter

Put words on the move,
    on the make, make
your body move in hard play,


of hoops, or sex, the low post
    reaching in, going back door,
up and down, the double pump

winter locker room

wet from boys changing,
    wrestlers in martian
sweatsuits spitting

into cups

to make their weight,
    b-ball players shambling
aboard the team bus, one styling

a Mao hat, one

Detroit porkpie & fedayeen scarf
    and, sitting next to me
one Fruit of Islam soldier cap


my brother from New York,
    check this comic: free from
Your Black Muslim Bakery,

the Honorable

Elijah Muhammed’s
    prophetic ’toon, flying saucers
circling earth zapping every

white man—

my fellow guard laughing
    “Now that’s you right here,
that’s the Jews,” little

black-ink White

men plummeting from a bank;
    he played the Last Poets
The REVoLUtion

will NOT

be TELevised, I played
    The Rite of Spring, our bus
chuffing past Nerfertiti’s

Hubcap World

and Diamond Dialysis Center
    We’ll lose tonight’s game,
our baby sky hooks drop

below the basket, the rim

that once grabbed the wedding
    ring of a man dunking
and flayed his finger,

the skin

hanging from the rim,
    a ladies’ pale glove—
One blood under flesh,


a marriage that goes
    up and down, that dives
for the loose ball,

light-footed comedy

weighted and doomed like
    the never-scoring old-time player
In again Out again


a dribbling Onan, desire’s shadow
    moving below the orbital
Dr. J and Butterbean Love


even as intern and seedling
    were guarding us—
our fragrant Black saints

scorching the midair,

stars forever blind to us, buoyant,
    kettle-hard piñatas
hoisted above the court

and out of reach.


David Gewanter is the author of In the Belly and The Sleep of Reason (both from University of Chicago Press) and co-editor of Robert Lowell: Collected Poems (Farrar, Straus & Giroux; Faber and Faber). His new book, War Bird, is forthcoming from Chicago in 2009. Awards include a Hopwood Prize, Zacharis First Book Prize, Whiting Writer’s Fellowship, and Witter Bynner Fellowship. He was a finalist for the James Laughlin Prize, and his edition of Lowell won the Ambassador Book Award from the English-Speaking Union and “Book of the Year” from Contemporary Poetry Review. He teaches at Georgetown University. (10/2008)

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AGNI Magazine :: published at Boston University ©2008 AGNI