Amiri Baraka: Only white people and those who are influenced by white people say they have no idea where their characters come from.
“We don’t have the luxury of time to forget our identity.”
let the tension of generational secrets shape the writing.
July 4. A letter home. A visit
in my room from John, another poet.
Shrieking fireworks whistle in the dark.
I have taken my little pill and wait for
my eyes to grow heavy. On the pay phone
down the hall a man speaks to his daughter:
You’re an adult now, so get it out of your ass.
The man I love is in Cincinnati. And
Houston. And somewhere downstream
from Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, his charred
particles sifting in the cold Susquehanna.
You stupid fucking girl, says the man
on the phone. I want to leave him here
in Vermont, but haven’t found a place
I might return to. I want him everywhere.
Woke at about 9 pm on the couch, feeling sweaty and disoriented. I remember listening to rain. I remember loud thunder breaking and rolling, hills and troughs of it, how I imagined the sound climbing and spilling repeatedly to reach me.
Why do I feel lost? I thought about going out for some dinner but couldn’t. I started the washing machine: clothes I’d loaded before taking my nap. It isn’t raining. It’s dark. I closed the front curtains, that wide window into my house, my computer, my books and papers piled on the desk. Thought about calling Randy, then realized he might be in bed, then realized he’s not working tomorrow and so might be up. Thought about writing to Ken. I just sent him a letter a few days ago.
Thinking about David. Fragments, half-lines. Images of him in the hospital. Massaging his feet. Touching his hair. Nothing I could do was enough.
Is there rest? Is there anything of him in the world now?
Another message from Darrell, I’m ignoring him, why am I ignoring him, he’s not going to call again but will wait for me to call, why don’t I like him now? and I don’t want to have to explain this, how I don’t have room right now for everyone—