Until you arrived with your accoutrements,
white man, causing the girls to cover
their mouths, I was quarreling
with the porridge seller and rocking
this boy to sleep with my stamping
dance—it always works. Don’t be
fooled by my eyes. Sometimes the beginning
of derision looks like fear. Instead
think of these lips opening in
defiance and the music you
will see in my eyes—laughter,
heavy as stones—will pelt you,
Mr. Cameraman. What are
you stealing from my body, sir?
Will you tell me this, now, Sir?
Kwame Dawes is the author of twenty-one books of poetry and numerous other books of fiction, criticism, and essays. In 2016 his book, Speak from Here to There, a co-written collection of verse with Australian poet John Kinsella, appeared. His most recent collection is City of Bones: A Testament (Northwestern University Press, 2017). He is Glenna Luschei Editor of Prairie Schooner, and teaches at the University of Nebraska and the Pacific MFA Program. He is director of the African Poetry Book Fund and artistic director of the Calabash International Literary Festival. He is a chancellor of the Academy of American Poets.