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I.
From half a mile away
In Central Square
Where police still hang
After headquarters moved
Because they are called here eventually
And they like that Italian place I go to.

II.
The unused tricycle.
And the occupied holding cell.

III.
If he really said
"I'll speak to you your momma outside,"
That would be the best part.

IV.
On top of a hill called "Class"
Looking at another hill called "Race"
Or the other way around.
It is hard to tell which hill is higher.

V.
Chapter 272, Section 53
Once applied
To "rogues and vagabonds."
It now merely threatens
"Common railers and brawlers."

VI.
Everyone should be afraid of the police.
Even though no one should have to.

VII.
Amy lived on Ware St.
She sat in my living room
Describing how well Skip dresses
How he smiles at strangers.
That southern thing.

VIII.
Andy had never heard of Gates.
But knows one of the cops
Who showed up in a news photo.

IX.
A Cambridge cop once yelled
Because I came too close
To an exploded manhole.
Then, deferentially,
"I'm sorry. I don't want you to get hurt."

X.
Melissa Harris Lacewell
thought you should know
#SkipGates...likes white folks.

XI.
If you yell at a cop in my part of Cambridge
It is usually okay.
As long as you are homeless
And intoxicated.
Or crazy.

XII.
Malcolm X. asked
What do you call a black man with a Ph.D.?
In Cambridge, you call him a rock star.
Some people do, anyway.

XIII.
I too have had
Just-got-back-from-Asia jet lag.
It makes you crazy.

With all due apologies.

Comments

( 16 comments — Leave a comment )
emzebel
Jul. 24th, 2009 05:54 pm (UTC)
This is really rather brilliant, my dear.
ayun
Jul. 24th, 2009 05:57 pm (UTC)
Aw, thanks!
kirkjerk
Jul. 24th, 2009 06:04 pm (UTC)
GOD brilliant.

May I repost w/ all due credits + links??
ayun
Jul. 24th, 2009 06:05 pm (UTC)
Go right ahead. Anything not friends locked is fine to repost.
kirkjerk
Jul. 24th, 2009 06:06 pm (UTC)
Awesome.
And so right about the "yo momma" line!
badriyaz
Jul. 24th, 2009 06:10 pm (UTC)
Most balanced commentary I've yet to see!
ayun
Jul. 24th, 2009 06:30 pm (UTC)
:)
jasonlizard
Jul. 24th, 2009 06:56 pm (UTC)
Nice observations. Take advantage of being crazy and go yell at some cops. ;-)
ayun
Jul. 24th, 2009 07:43 pm (UTC)
If I do that, they'll never let me into that Italian place again.
(Deleted comment)
ayun
Jul. 24th, 2009 09:23 pm (UTC)
Glad you liked it.

I actually don't know much else of Stevens - but I should remedy that! I think there's a few of his poems in a collection I have...almost time to go home from work anyway.
pyrric
Jul. 24th, 2009 09:10 pm (UTC)
I know which to prefer!
This is brilliant, and light-years better than the incessant NPR coverage I've been listening to all day. They should hire you!
ayun
Jul. 24th, 2009 09:25 pm (UTC)
Re: I know which to prefer!
Well, to be fair to NPR, I don't think I could keep this shit up 24/7. I'd certainly entertain a 'contributor' offer, though. ;)
encyclops
Jul. 24th, 2009 11:54 pm (UTC)
I don't know if it speaks more to your writing ability or my avoidance of current events for the last couple weeks that it took me until X to be sure this wasn't an already-famous poet you were quoting.
ayun
Jul. 27th, 2009 01:35 am (UTC)
Nah, just an already-famous poet I'm utterly ripping off.
(Anonymous)
Jul. 26th, 2009 06:11 pm (UTC)
Gates used this trope himself in Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Black Man (http://www.newyorker.com/archive/1995/10/23/1995_10_23_056_TNY_CARDS_000372419?printable=true) in The New Yorker. Good topical verse nonetheless. Thank you eversore (sic) much.
(Anonymous)
Jul. 27th, 2009 06:29 pm (UTC)
Raymond Patterson got there first. Anyway, the Stevens is all about adaptive use of a traditional form. Well done!
( 16 comments — Leave a comment )