F. Douglas Brown
Further resources on F. Douglas Brown
5 poems
VARIATIONS OF A RIVER: A GOLDEN SHOVEL FOR FERGUSON
for Michael Brown / after Langston Hughes / after Terrance Hayes / 1. / "To fling my arms wide / In someplace of the sun / To whirl and to dance / / Till the white day is done / Then rest at cool evening beneath a tall tree / / While night comes on gently / Dark like me / That is my dream!" / —LANGSTON HUGHES, "Dream Variations," / To the east, my river forms, / Fling-s from late summer blood, from / My dome to home. My / Arms can't break my fall, so this / Wide street holds my body longer than it should. / / In another time, this might be / Some-thing as common as / Place-mats. In another time, this display / Of my body might find wind, or / The reef, or simply sink. But hours and hours of / Sun and sidewalk, my river can only cling / / To camera. Waves of wetness / Whirl and lick the yellow radius, / And then anger forms, and then voices spread / To me and bounce, a sound better to / Dance and shake to than to sleep: / I stand up with my hands up / I put up, my hands up / Then I'm spinnin' all my hands up / Till the moment shatters through me, I'm / The fool in flip-flops, a red cap, and / White socks. My hands full of the / Day I steal from a store. That dirt / Is mine to own. Pops says, what's / Done is gon' get you one day, son. But / / Then:— and now:— me at / Rest, watching my dark flow lurk about. / At least they could cover me. The summer night is / Cool-er than some think, chocolate / Evening frigid in red and blue. But / Beneath this place, this home of mine, / A small trickle of me is left, a / Tall tale of who I is remains: mountain, / Tree, gentle giant high as high water can get / / While the dam is on lock. Let this / Night take me and not the man who / Comes here, scared and ready to put / On a shield to spray black bodies down. / Gently—if I gotta go, let it be the / / Dark-ness my eyes got, cherry / Like with a pit of apology. Blood leaving / Me, wandering back to / / That place where I first believed. / Is that you, dear Lord, or you, sweet mama? Tell / My homies don't be drawn to the current of a 40. Avoid the / Dream of this slow-moving river. / 2. / "To fling my arms wide / In the face of the sun, / Dance! Whirl! Whirl! Till / the quick day is done. / Rest at pale evening . . . / A tall, slim tree . . . / / Night coming tenderly / Black like me." / —LANGSTON HUGHES, "Dream Variations / This singing to- / 0; this swaying, fling- / ing jazz and gospel: my / poetry, my arms / open wide / for you, big boy. In- / sert my words into the / defeat of your eyes and face. / The foolishness of / a boy is just that—: yet the- / y steal the sun / / out of you and take any dance / you have left. I wish for whirl / and rejoicing, but the dusk is a whirl / / tempting you till / morning becomes the / mourning of black souls. How quick / can I steady your day / with a word, with th-is / lingering music? The blues done / / got you now. Rest / here. Lay down the law at / the crease of my poems, not the pale / promise of a dying justice. Evening / / is a heavy log moving steadily toward a- / nger, drifting towards the last words a tall / boy might float down a slim / river. I have carved hymns into a tree / / before. I have seen the night / arbor offer us nothing but ropes. This coming / age is that discordant. This age is not tenderly / / embracing our bodies, but dear son, your black / body has a lyric for the moonlight like / an aria, like an orchestrated couplet, like me.