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Recorded for Poem-a-Day, July 16, 2018.
About this Poem 

“This poem is part of a series of poems in which characters from The Tempest become composite characters who wrestle with the tensions around how we talk about race today, particularly when that talk is gendered. Prospero represents the older, straight white male who fears the cultural shift in America, without seeing the benefits of that shift both for America and even for himself.”
—A. Van Jordan

A Tempest in a Teacup

Prospero

Assume, just for a moment, 
I am denied a job
in the factory of my dreams
under the fluorescent lights
of a porcelain white foreman.

It’s orderly and neat.
I feed my family.
No one questions my face.
I raised my son in my likeness,
so he would never go unseen,

bobbing on a wave of expectation,
I set in motion with my back
put into my work, praying
for my country, blessed 
with more of me, never worrying

about those who might die,
or those who did, trying
to stir a storm, trying
to stand where I’m standing.

Copyright © 2018 by A. Van Jordan. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on July 16, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2018 by A. Van Jordan. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on July 16, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

A. Van Jordan

A. Van Jordan

A. Van Jordan has published four books of poetry: The Cineaste: Poems (W. W. Norton & Company, 2013); Quantum Lyrics (W. W. Norton & Company, 2007); M-A-C-N-O-L-I-A (W. W. Norton & Company, 2005), winner of an Anisfield-Wolf Book Award; and Rise (Tia Chucha Press, 2001), winner of the PEN Oakland/Josephine Miles Award.

by this poet

poem
(Park Chan-Wook, 2003)
If one rainy night you find yourself
leaving a phone booth, and you meet a man
with a lavender umbrella, resist
your desire to follow him, to seek
shelter from the night in his solace.
Later, don't fall victim to the Hypnotist's
narcotic of clarity, which proves
a
poem
Because a razor cuts across a frame of film, 
I wince, squinting my eye, 
and because my day needs assembly 
to make sense of the scenes anyway, 
making a story from some pieces of truth, I go 
outside to gather those pieces.
Thousands of moments spooling out 
frames of mistakes in my day. 
As if anyone's to
poem

INSERT SHOT: Einstein’s notebook 1905—DAY 1: a theory that is based on two postulates (a) that the speed of light in all inertial frames is constant, independent of the source or observer. As in, the speed of light emitted from the truth is the same as that of a lie coming from the lamp of a face aglow with trust,