Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, DESCENDANT OF SOLOMON AND THE QUEEN OF SHEBA, by CLARENCE MAJOR



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DESCENDANT OF SOLOMON AND THE QUEEN OF SHEBA, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Yellow flowers, yellow flowers


Yellow flowers, yellow flowers.
Skim milk, honeybees and skim milk.
Smell of ponderosa leaves.
None of these images slap
their way into your sleep.

There: brown heads busted open
in an ocean of sunlight.
Sailing around in a lazy circle,
bloated blackflies
are sucked to stink
of decaying flesh.
This and every night in your sleep, this image,
over and over,
as you wake to dying, bloody dying,
seeing archangels weeping and
stepping from your ancient triptych,
tripping over bodies beside
the collapsed wall of your ruined basilica.
And your murals and memory too are ruined.
In your nightmare, where else is there to go
this morning -- through which door?
I see you squatting under flying bullets
and plunging bayonets.
Bloated blackflies and you half-remember
what you were told: everyone is promised more.
Yellow flowers, smell of yellow flowers --
in the midst of spring garbage.

You, a brown man, full of trust,
shaking in the shade,
patient in the long shadows of Zagwa kings.
Do you find humility as you sweep the leaves?
You sweep pine needles under trees
in this my strange land.
What else is there to do here
but sweep up somebody's dust?
And maybe know the taste of mint,
crinkle of money, sound of larks.

But here even, a brown man like you,
from your homeland, in fact,
just shot through the head
this morning jogging with
a white woman in the park
across the street from his apartment.
Can you make sense of this craziness?

In your dark room, you're lucky
to wake from the gray nightmare
of starvation, lucky still to
possess power of taste, power of touch.
And so am I.
Lucky you to know what you know.
Over in your homeland
your ancient manuscript,
illuminated with colors still true,
manuscript of the fourth century
(before the birth of Christ) --
on a Judaic altar
(according to your sister) --
has not yet been pissed on
nor shot full of holes.
And your mother hasn't been strung up
with a rope and your sister is still a virgin.

See, a brown man like you,
framed like a pope in a doorframe
of display-light, understands better than we
how there is no sure plan
that anybody can surely depend on.
And I shake your brown hand
with my own and
the ocean is smaller.


Used with the permission of Copper Canyon Press, P.O. Box 271, Port Townsend, WA
98368-0271, www.cc.press.org




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