Academic journal article African American Review

The Poets

Academic journal article African American Review

The Poets

Article excerpt

In the gymnasium the balls spun

from their fingers like spiders' silk,

fine and unconquerable. Legs woven

in threads of hope, they jumped,

came down on silent sneakers,

dashing any hopes we had of winning.

They were the blacks, the black blacks

who had the advantage of being born black.

Dunbar, the high school that sent

a jingle in a broken tongue to colleges

on full scholarships. Dunbar, the high

school that we watched march here

to smash us once again, we black boys

with all these white boys too thick

to dance like a knife in the air,

to open, cut, slice a tangled history.

Breath held back "nigger" in the air

over the bleachers. Breath held back

"wino junkies" under the old clock

over the hollering wooden floor where

we sang pep songs in German, peeping

inside our shirts and ties at our own

magic. The Dunbar Poets made baskets

while strolling, dreaming of rivers. …

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