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About this Poem 

"1. I was chasing velocity and collage here. A poem rolling down a hillside—a poem gathering steam and discursiveness as it angles down a hillside. 2. My usual tendency would be to hammer at much of what appears in 'For Crying Out Loud' until it takes on a recognizable shape. My usual tendencies are rooted in the belief that 'figurative language' (that is to say 'poetry') is the language of figures: shapes, patterns. Here I wanted to let the figure blur, fracture as it moved. 3. I hope it 'means' something to you (something with an elegiac scent) without having to simply, neatly be 'about' anything. 4. It’s a test of the personal emergency broadcast system." —Terrance Hayes

For Crying Out Loud

Terrance Hayes, 1971

And I understand well now, it is beautiful
to be dumb: my tyrannical inclinations, my love
for the prodigal jocks aging from primetime
to pastime, the pixilated plain people and colored folk

with homemade signs. Cutouts, cutups, ambushes,
bushwackers. The clouds are overwhelmed
and vainglorious. MC Mnemosyne showed up

around midnight like the undetectable dew
weighing the leaves, and I was like Awww shit.
Why ain't I dead yet
like the man who wanted to be buried

with the multi-million dollar Van Gogh he bought?
(Members of The Arts League said No
because there was culture to be made into money.)

The volant statues of the aviary, the jabber-jawed
cable channels and the book in which nothing is written
but the words everyone uses to identify things
that can’t be identified. Not that I ain’t spent

the last ten years of my life refining my inner cyborg.
Interview questions included how did the DJ break his hands,
who’s gone bury the morticians who bury the dead,

And what to do about the sublime and awful music
of grade school marching bands?
Not that Neanderthals have a sense of the existential.
Me and my forty-leventh cousins lolling, and LOL-ing

like chthonic chronic smoke, like high-water suit pants
and extreme quiet. Everybody clap ya hands.
Like fit girls in fitted outfits, misfits who don’t cry enough,

who definitely don’t sob, but keep showing up sighing.
Everyone loves to identify things that have not been identified.
The rabbit hole, where ever I find it, symbolizes solitude.
So that’s exciting. And an argument can be made

on behalf of athletes, rap stars, and various other brothers
who refuse (click here for the entire video)
to wear shirts in public when one considers the beauty

of a black torso. If and when the dashiki is fashionable
again I will sport it with the aplomb of a peacock plume.
For now, I have a row of coin-sized buttons tattooed
down my chest so it looks like I mean business

when I'm naked. I know that means a lot to you.

Copyright © 2013 by Terrance Hayes. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-A-Day on September 27, 2013. Browse the Poem-A-Day archive.

Terrance Hayes

Terrance Hayes

The 2010 winner of the National Book Award in poetry, Terrance Hayes was born in Columbia, South Carolina, in 1971.

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Now that my afro's as big as Shaft's 
I feel a little better about myself. 
How it warms my bullet-head in Winter,

black halo, frizzy hat of hair. 
Shaft knew what a crown his was, 
an orb compared to the bush

on the woman sleeping next to him. 
(There was always a woman 
sleeping next to him. I keep thinking
poem
Fred Sanford's on at 12
& I'm standing in the express lane (cash only)
about to buy Head & Shoulders
the white people shampoo, no one knows
what I am. My name could be Lamont.
George Clinton wears colors like Toucan Sam,
the Froot Loop pelican. Follow your nose,
he says. But I have