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Tag: Gregory Pardlo

Problemata

In the Preamble, Gouverneur Morris refers, poetically,

to the “domestic tranquility” shattered by rebelling

veterans who, unable to pay mounting war taxes, confronted

the state for having seized their homes. They argued

their point with bayonets fixed to their flintlock rifles. Point being

that blood should have been enough, as it was in their barter

economy, to square their debt in the Revolution.

Morris could not abide an economy that imagined exchange

in such discrete terms. For him, every shilling appraised on an altar

of speculative devotions, every home subject to the metaphoric

notion of home, the value of tranquility proportionate

to the power one has to gerrymander the metaphor.

Consider the dear evangelists who canvass our homes

saturday mornings, who share their pamphlets and good

words, their domestic concerns swelling with their

longing for the fellowship of us. spinoza gives us

this reason not to opt off of their call lists: The good

which a man desires for himself and loves, he will love

more constantly if he sees that others love it also;

he will therefore endeavor that others should love it also.

Be tolerant of their attention, their pursuit of agape,

a planet-sized chip they bear on their shoulders

from house to house, door to door, welcome

or not, blessing whatever they find inside.

I finally friended my brother.

It may be we will never

speak again. Why speak

when we have this crystal ball

through which

to judge one another’s lives?

I imagine this is what

the afterlife will be like.

I’m ghost, we say

instead of goodbye.

It is nearly July in Brooklyn and already

the fireworks from Chinatown warehouses

are bursting in stellar fluorescence like tinsel-tied

dreadlocks above the Bushwick tenements and the brownstone

blocks of Bed-Stuy now littered with the skittering

décollage of wrappers exploded across blacktops and handball

courts, playgrounds and sidewalks knuckled by tree roots.

My neighbor’s teenaged boys argue who possesses the greatest

patriotism. Just as pit bulls chained to their fists imply

their roughly domesticated manhood,

they seek to demonstrate their patriotism with bottle

rockets, spinners, petards, these household paraphernalia of war.

The competition is vigorous, draws spectators and blood.

When the smoke clears, no charges

are filed. We neighbors waver distractedly a moment

before tracing our paths back into our quiet homes.

from DigestFind more by Gregory Pardlo at the library

Copyright © 2014 Gregory Pardlo
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Four Way Books.

Written by Himself

I was born in minutes in a roadside kitchen a skillet

whispering my name. I was born to rainwater and lye;

I was born across the river where I

was borrowed with clothespins, a harrow tooth,

broadsides sewn in my shoes. I returned, though

it please you, through no fault of my own,

pockets filled with coffee grounds and eggshells.

I was born still and superstitious; I bore an unexpected burden.

I gave birth, I gave blessing, I gave rise to suspicion.

I was born abandoned outdoors in the heat-shaped air,

air drifting like spirits and old windows.

I was born a fraction and a cipher and a ledger entry;

I was an index of first lines when I was born.

I was born waist-deep stubborn in the water crying

ain’t I a woman and a brother I was born

to this hall of mirrors, this horror storyIwas

born with a prologue of references, pursued

by mosquitoes and thieves, I was born passing

off the problem of the twentieth century: I was born.

I read minds before I could read fishes and loaves;

I walked a piece of the way alone before I was born.

from DigestFind more by Gregory Pardlo at the library

Copyright © 2014 Gregory Pardlo
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Four Way Books.

This program is supported in part by a grant from the Idaho Humanities Council, a State-based program of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this (publication, website, exhibit, etc.) do not necessarily represent those of the Idaho Humanities Council or the National Endowment for the Humanities.