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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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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FURTHER READING
Poems about Identity
A Legacy
by Prageeta Sharma
Black Laws
by Roger Reeves
Dream In Which I Meet Myself
by Lynn Emanuel
Escape
by Elinor Wylie
Happy first anniversary (in anticipation of your thirty ninth)
by Bob Hicok
Imaginary June
by C. D. Wright
Instructions on Damaging the Monster's Cloak of Invisibility
by Bradley Paul
Mirrors
by Tada Chimako
Mrs. Cavendish and the Dancer
by Stephen Dunn
mulberry fields
by Lucille Clifton
My Teacup
by Alli Warren
On Anti-Biography
by Will Alexander
On Disappearing
by Major Jackson
Self-portrait as Thousandfurs
by Stacy Gnall
Sympathy
by Edith Franklin Wyatt
The Fare-well Letters [excerpt]
by Evie Shockley
The Purpose of Ritual
by Melissa Broder
Woman in Front of Poster of Herself
by Alice Notley
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For Crying Out Loud

 
by Terrance Hayes

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 canít be identified. Not that I ainít spent

the last ten years of my life refining my inner cyborg.
Interview questions included how did the DJ break his hands,
whoís 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 donít cry enough,

who definitely donít 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 thatís 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.
About this poem:
"1. I was chasing velocity and collage here. A poem rolling down a hillsideóa 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. Itís a test of the personal emergency broadcast system."

—Terrance Hayes






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.
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