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Henry Dumas

–Online Poems Essay, Research Paper TAKE THIS RIVER We move up a spine of earth That bridges the river and the canal. And where a dying white log, finger-like,

–Online Poems Essay, Research Paper

TAKE THIS RIVER

We move up a spine of earth

That bridges the river and the canal.

And where a dying white log, finger-like,

Floating off the bank, claws at the slope,

We stumble, and we laugh.

We slow beneath the moon’s eye;

Near the shine of the river’s blood face,

The canal’s veil of underbrush sweats frost,

And this ancient watery scar retains

The motionless tears of men with troubled spirits.

For like the whole earth,

This land of mine is soaked….

Shadows together,

We fall on the grass without a word.

We had run this far from the town.

We had taken the bony course, rocky and narrow,

He leading, I following.

Our breath streams into October

As the wind sucks our sweat and a leaf…

"We have come a long long way, mahn."

He points over the river

Where it bends west, then east,

And leaves our sight.

"I guess we have," I pant. "I can hear

My angry muscles talking to my bones."

And we laugh.

The hood of night is coming.

Up the river, down the river

The sky and night kiss between the wind.

"You know," Ben says, "this is where

I brought Evelyn….

Look. We sat on that log

And watched a river egret

Till it flew away with the evening.

"But mahn, she is a funny girl, Aiee!

But she looks like me Jamaica woman….

But she asks me all the questions, mahn.

I’m going to miss her mahn, Aiee!

"But I will . . . Ewie. Ewie I love you,

But I do Ewie . . . Ewie . . . ," he says

And blows a kiss into the wind.

Broken shadows upon the canal

Form and blur, as leaves shudder again…again

"Tell me this, Ben," I say.

"Do you love American girls?

You know, do most Jamaicans

Understand this country?"

We almost laugh. Our sweat is gone.

He whispers "Aiee" on a long low breath

And we turn full circle to the river,

Our backs to the blind canal.

"But I’m not most Jamaicans….

I’m only Ben, and tomorrow I’ll be gone,

And … Ewie, I love you….

Aiee! My woman, how can I love you?"

Blurred images upon the river

Flow together and we are there….

"What did she ask you?" I say.

"Everything and nothing, maybe.

But I couldn’t tell her all."

We almost laugh. "’Cause I

Don’t know it all, mahn.

"Look, see over there….

We walked down from there

Where the park ends

And the canal begins

Where that red shale rock

Down the slope there . . . see?

Sits itself up like a figure,

We first touch our hands . . .

And up floats this log,

Not in the river

But in the canal there

And it’s slimy and old

And I kick it back . . .

And mahn, she does too.

Then she asks me:

‘Bennie, if I cry

When you leave would you

Remember me more?’

Aiee! She’s a natural goddess!

And she asks me:

‘Bennie, when you think of Jamaica

Can you picture me there?’

And while she’s saying this,

She’s reaching for the river

Current like she’s feeling its pulse.

She asks me:

‘Bennie, America means something to you?

Maybe our meeting, our love? has

Something to do with America,

Like the river? Do you know Bennie?’

Aiee, Aiee, mahn I tell you

She might make me marry . . .

Aiee! Ewie, Jamaica . . . moon!

And how can I say anything?

I tell her:

‘Africa, somewhere is Africa.

Do you understand,’ I say to her,

And she look at me with the moon,

And I hear the wind and the leaves

And we do not laugh . . .

We are so close now no wind between us . . .

I say to her:

‘Ewie, I do not know America

Except maybe in my tears….

Maybe when I look out from Jamaica

Sometimes, at the ocean water….

Maybe then I know this country….

But I know that we, we Ewie….

I know that this river goes and goes.

She takes me to the ocean,

The mother of water

And then I am home.’

And she tells me she knows

By the silence in her eyes.

I reach our hands again down

And bathe them in the night current

And I say: ‘Take this river, Ewie….’

Aiee, wind around us, Aiee my God!

Only the night knows how we kiss."

He stands up.

A raincloud sailing upon a leak, whirs

In the momentary embrace of our memories….

"Let’s run," I say, "and warm these bones."

But he trots a bit, then stops,

Looking at his Jamaica sky.

"Let’s run the long road west

Down the river road," I say,

"And I’ll tell you of my woman….Aiee."

We laugh, but we stop.

And then, up the spiny ridge

We race through the trees

Like spirited fingers of frosty air.

We move toward some blurred

Mechanical light edged like an egret

And swallowed by the night.

Into this land of mine.

And the wind is cold, a prodding

Finger at our backs.

The still earth. Except for us.

And from behind that ebon cloak,

The moon observes….

And we do not laugh

And we do not cry, And where the land slopes,

We take the river….

But we do not stumble,

We do not laugh,

We do not cry,

And we do not stop….

Online Source: http://www2.mdcc.edu/north/asili/volii_3/nu00031.htm

Copyright ? Loretta Dumas and Eugene Redmond, 1989/99

FUNK

The great god Shango in the African sea

reached down with palm oil and oozed out me.

Online Source: http://www2.mdcc.edu/north/asili/volii_3/nu00031.htm

Copyright ? Loretta Dumas and Eugene Redmond, 1989/99

PEAS

Peas in the pod

peas in my gut

peas in the belly roll

doing the strut.

Blackeyes over

blackeyes down

blackeyes browneyes going to town

Online Source: http://www2.mdcc.edu/north/asili/volii_3/nu00031.htm

Copyright ? Loretta Dumas and Eugene Redmond, 1989/99

YAMS

I made a yamship for my belly with my spoon

and sweet riding jelly bread kept me til noon.

Online Source: http://www2.mdcc.edu/north/asili/volii_3/nu00031.htm

Copyright ? Loretta Dumas and Eugene Redmond, 1989/99

BROWN SOUNDS

brown sound chocolate

memories

like the first time

you saw grapes

and tasted them

and learned the color

blue

brown sound cream milk

echoes

like the first time

you saw bees

and tasted gold

and learned the honey

tongue

brown sound africa

pulses

like the first time

you exploded between legs

and heard drums

and learned the message

of rhythm love

brown sound america

pulses plus pushing

down trees

like the first time

you saw that wild crazy horse

riding through painted deserts

and you learned the grand canyon

red mother

brown sound

black outline

like the first time

like the first time

the first time

is the last time

like that

Online Source: http://www2.mdcc.edu/north/asili/volii_3/nu00031.htm

Copyright ? Loretta Dumas and Eugene Redmond, 1989/99

Click on the link above for additional online poems by Henry Dumas

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