Recently, I was assigned to read Yusef Komunyakaa’s poem “The Day I Saw Barack Obama Reading Derek Walcott’s Collected Poems”
In order to fully understand this poem, I had to research some terms and learn who both Derek Walcott and Yuself Komunyakaa are. I admit I am under exposed to poetry at this ripe age of 49. I learned that both erudite Poets have lived much honored literary lives. Both poets write from their roots, which were strongly affected by post-constructionist racism and oppression. I felt impressed by their scholarship and the confrontation so often found in their poetry.
My assignment was to emulate Komunyakaa by also speaking to Barack Obama about whatever I found important to say. I felt intimidated by the examples before me. I found my voice though. My poem, “Bathing In Truth” is the result of this assignment. I share it here in what I consider an early draft because I feel it is important to honor the journey of creative expression, not only the result of our efforts. Then too, I felt it important to speak my piece. Barack Obama isn’t the only person who can effect changes in the world, nor the only person who should be charged with making a difference. Making change starts and succeeds through the efforts of each one of us.
Bathing In Truth
I am ashamed.
America has become a bully.
But, wasn’t it always?
Impoverishing all, but a few.
They spoke of legacy in the skin and waves,
In warm breezes that caress rankle.
It piles up.
The breadfruit, along with the corn, the rice, the buffalo and now it’s oil.
Schools yards with guns and knives, grown from legacy?
The groans of the cold and hungry grow louder
PH.D’s elbow to elbow with “the lazy.”
They stand color blind in soup kitchen lines.
It all boils down to this inhuman fault.
Despair and fear breed like flies on a “stink.”
That stink is on you Sir, and on me and these.
The question you should be asking is how to wash us all clean.
How will I wash me clean?