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Poem-A-Day

Poem-a-Day is the original and only daily digital poetry series featuring over 200 new, previously unpublished poems by today's talented poets each year. On weekdays, poems are accompanied by exclusive commentary by the poets. The series highlights classic poems on weekends. Launched in 2006, Poem-a-Day is now distributed via email, web, and social media to 350,000+ readers free of charge and is available for syndication. For more information about how to syndicate Poem-a-Day, contact [email protected].

Ode to the Happy Negro Hugging the Flag in Robert Colescott’s “George Washington Carver Crossing the Delaware”

Recorded for Poem-a-Day, January 23, 2018.
About this Poem 
“In Robert Colescott’s 1975 painting George Washington Carver Crossing the Delaware: Page from an American History Textbook, the famed American inventor is depicted standing at the bow of a rowboat making its way across an intrepid Delaware River. Carver is accompanied by a band of Sambo-esque figures, including one Revolutionary War army general who hugs the American flag with a kind of serenity about his expression. The painting is a response to—or a refusal of—an earlier painting by a German American artist, completed in 1851, showing George Washington and his all-white cadre in the same scene.”
—Anaïs Duplan

Ode to the Happy Negro Hugging the Flag in Robert Colescott’s “George Washington Carver Crossing the Delaware”

I have waited all my life to find me find you
perched around my black neck in repose

songing of me in repose                   	    your black legs         	
songing of me in repose

your black legs a dangle around me      I have waited
to find you find your black toes  to find them

sundering at the base   your black toes your black toe-
nails hale and bright 	   your black feet a straddle around me

around my black waist a straddle I finding I
was born I was born who operated

in the white was born who was born
who operated in the white chapel

who found your black thighs in repose
songing to each other in repose
                                            	           across

my chest      	    an extended black for blocks
a neighborhood song in repose

your crotch an extended black
at my neck   	  your black groin a straddle

around me in repose 	   what life what
there it is there               I had been looked at

there o lord sucked His black
thorax which spanned as a fracture
                                            spanned as I

who grow up in you there as a fracture find
your black breast o lord quiescing

atop my head your other black
breast o lord hale and bright around me o lord

a pendulum o lord to my black ear
my black ear that finds you songing

of me in repose in your stature
toppling to one side of my one side

find your black shoulders a gaping
around me    	death your body armless

around me    	death none can
skirt it in your mother's way o lord

is finding black  fingers there your black
neck is finding          	  lord is rising past

the cumulus-line an extended black
o lord is an extended black o lord

is thinking of self and thinking of self is
finding you there so that when I entered I entered
                                            	           the pulpit I entered.

Copyright © 2018 by Anaïs Duplan. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 23, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets

Copyright © 2018 by Anaïs Duplan. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 23, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets