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Mulatto

by Shane McCrae


Half donkey and half human being         half horse

Half human being three         halves which end is which

And which the back         for the saddle and which

The fingers for the work         and where the song


Which unrelated to the body pass-

es through the body and that body is

Made more or less         a human body the

Singer’s the listener’s the listener


Can’t help but feel nostalgic and a lit-

tle scandalized half         donkey with its star-

tling hair attached         somehow to something living

Touch it it isn’t         smooth like real hair


And every child can sing         and knows the songs

And you will recognize yourself in the singing

And they will sing for any audience

And saddle both         the horse and rider sing


The horse         sings with its back sings         with its fin-

gers and the singing is         not in its eyes

Which are an animal’s         not in its hair

Which isn’t real         not in its eyes which are


Not real         but only in the body working

And makes the body human working you

Will recognize yourself in the singing         you

Will not recognize yourself in the songs

 

Shane McCrae attended the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop and Harvard Law School. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The American Poetry Review, African American Review, New Orleans Review, No Tell Motel, and other journals. His first chapbook, One Neither One, was published in 2009 by Octopus Books. (10/2009)


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