Kwame Opoku-Duku | Poetry

THE OLD HEAD VERSES (ecclesiastes) 26-36

for Suleymane

.

11 Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done
………….and what I toiled to achieve, everything was
meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was
………….gain under the sun.
—Ecclesiastes 2:11

26 i tried to dance my way to
………….to the promised land in a
million-dollar suit/
………….drank sparkling rosé out of
………….tea cups/
27 i asked my heart to beat out of my chest/
………….for the explosion to be a work of art
………….that moved the world to tears/ but they
………….never even remembered i made
………….that last second shot/
28 a man could surprise hisself at what he might
………….do to escape his own ugliness/
………….like not speak of equality/ unless
………….he’s talking bout numbers/
29 or say/ we’ve been drinking from this mug
………….since we were born/
30 or that change is happening/
………….when even the sky
………….moves faster/ even
………….the moon/
31 & the secret becomes find pleasure in
………….everything without getting your
………….feelings hurt/
………….but sometimes i fear
………….that if you believe in anything/
………….it’s already too late/
32 everything is a minstrel show/ our kings
………….have hambones for scepters
33 & when our hearts collapse/ they’ll
………….wrap our bodies in brown paper
………….bags/ pour us out into the street
………….as libations for those who came
………….before them/ a spiritual flood into
………….the sewers that stream below/
34 & heaven won’t shed a tear/ to think otherwise
………….is vanity/ just listen to the talking drum/
35 what should the nappy-bearded prophet
………….sing on the day he dies?
………….that with these verses/
………….i am unbnd/
36 cower at the softness of our beauty/
………….kill a thousand/ watch a
………….thousand come

.

ODE TO YOUR FUTURE GHOST

after Shane McCrae

.

i opened the door/ the lights dimmed to
nothingness/ the only sound/ the faint hum

of the ceiling fan/ & brother/ the room was gett-
ing smaller every day/ wasn’t even really

meant for one/ i’d been out all day in a tweed
blazer/ playing respectability politics/ as always/

the only nigger in the room/ brother we floated
through the night/ disembodied spirit detectives/

o & we found what we were looking for/ we
found it until you woke up on the floor

of an SRO bathroom/ sometimes brother/ some-
times i thought/ this might be the day that we

finish a song/ brother i was ready to spread your
legend/ something that would outlive us/ an ode

to your future ghost/ but brother/
the lights had dimmed to nothingness/

i’d been out all day/ producing something/
brother sometimes i thought this might be the day

i find his will on the table/ brother i would have
started a group with your telecaster and called us the yips/

***

brother i was in a dream state/ Jesus was there/ & Gil Scott-Heron/ & the
only sound/ the whirr of the ceiling fan/ brother/ the night we took

bus out of Mexico City/ i dared God to strike me down from the
Pyramid of the Sun/ brother i dreamt of a beautiful death/ brother

the night came so swiftly/ brother we drove through Wormtown
with halos around our eyeballs/ & our hearts full of Xanies that

we parachuted with toilet paper/ do you remember Butterfly/ the
patron saint of Turk and Leavenworth/ do you remember the breeze

from his wings/ brother i knew you were gonna pull some bullshit like could
you pick me up some Carl’s Junior/ i’ll take anything/ i knew you

hadn’t eaten in three days/ brother we told the sisters
we’d be Bunburying the night we took the bus

out of Mexico City/ brother all that jamming
& no songs/ brother i remember my dream state/

you told me you checked in on me later that night
to make sure i was still breathing & your disembodied

spirit floated out into the night/ brother we were beggars in paradise/yelling
somebody help me/ somebody please help me/ brother i started a group

with your Telecaster brother we all wanted to die/ & you
were our prince/ dimmed to nothingness/

the only sound/ the faint whirr of the ceiling fan/ only the room remains/
& in it the vestiges of our sheen/ o brother only a martyr’s death would do

Kwame Opoku-Duku is a poet and fiction writer. His work is featured or forthcoming in the Virginia Quarterly Review, BOMB, The Kenyon Review, Bettering American Poetry, BOAAT, The Shallow Ends, and elsewhere. Kwame lives in New York City, where he is a teaching artist, and along with Karisma Price, a founding member of the Unbnd Collective. Kwame’s debut chapbook, The Unbnd Verses, was recently published by Glass Poetry Press.

2018-11-26T18:02:02+00:00