A LESSON AFTER SWIMMING

Major Jackson


i. peace-keeping

Gagged and fleeting
a trumpeterís three note riff
kidnapped in the wing
flurry, an impulsive moment
the gawky hand solos
of a mute drummer.
We ponder
the seasons of Father.

ii. aphonic weaponry

In the morning, soundless as theory
Father heads off to the skyscrapers
puncturing god'ís white cheekbones
and when god moves you can hear
a rip along his tense, lower jaw;
he stumble, punch-drunk. God is strung-

out. Ask Father, he knows and will show

you. The puny boxes splattering
moonbeams across a mega-graphic screen
can shrivel an artist'ís paintbrush
to a meager keystroke. Father'ís machines,
fax, stamp, copier, all hum in triumph.

iii. united nations

Father is like a crossword puzzle,
each answer a clue.
The right words, a collection of spaces

harder to fill than a night
in New York City; the choices
innumerable and secret.

iv. elegies

In a shirt tie, a boy
swings his face, in then
out of a lamp. The book
below is opened,
its arms flapped
as if to hug, as if
reaching to pull his eyelids down.

He ignores the call
of friends gnawing
at his ears. The Room
is clean. The Lawn
is cut.

v. shades

I see maracas
wrapped in cinnamon cloth
off the coast of Benin, a colorful
rattling tingling a child'ís
toes itching to dance
the middle

and the vertical shapes
breathing out spirits,
stringed along by firelight
jerk their bodies
into mnemonic space.
Wooden masks adorn their face.

Benin is an embankment
of dreams and Father is
like a chieftan sitting on
a Maasai stool, smoking
a Garcia Vegas cigar
the TV screen in painted
white faces.

Copyright © CrossConnect, Inc. 1996

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