Monday, June 28, 2010

Cave Canem in retrospect, and my 100th post

This post won't be sprawling, can't be.  A ton has happened, but I feel like trying to grocery-list it is like trying to explain in a blog post the music of family, food, or  soul.  I don't know.  Amazing.  But I don't know.

And I met so many amazing people who kept me on my toes in ways college never did.  But to list some is to slight more. But they know who they are, and so will you, soon.  In books, and in classrooms.

And how I remember the precise moment in school when I realized my vocabulary was a burden.  This was a place of brothers and sisters who knew that feeling.  The feeling of being different, of being other.  Of being a poet, against all odds.  There were workshops in the corners of parties, spirited (in every sense of the word) philosophical debates, and so much love.

I can't list everything that happened.  I am a poet.  As I always say, if I knew how to say something better than with a poem, I wouldn't write poetry.  So maybe this, a poem I wrote for, then read at, the Sunrise Poetry reading, which itself is very telling about CC.  The last day, it was suggested that we stay awake until the sun came out, and read poetry as night transitioned to day.


Most things are bigger than me
but not all have their affect.
Not in the ways we mean
by affection, ignoring the strange
tilt of the universe, exploding
stars in my heart
the first time someone
let me be black.

It was a drug,
a motion I never stopped moaning for.
Exploiting my difference—
fed my elephant pocket change
when looking in the mirror
should have been enough.

This is how earthquakes are made:
in the chest, a faultline your
cousin split, best friend, coworker,
and it demanded family.

Family came with its own chain
dangling from the neck.
The dirt of its original birth
trailed behind, as if to say "Yes,
I have been shackled, yes I've been slave
to my own humanity but I am human.
Which means I am more than my image
even when I cling to it, even when
with it, my stomach is full.  I am free,
and I am dangerous, and I've come back.
Not for your chain, because that
is yours, but to ensure that you
are dangerous too.


  1. Beautiful Keith. So glad to get to share in this experience with you.

  2. Fantastic...I love how you end with "dangerous." And great photos!!

  3. so glad CC was so resonant for you! i just returned from Kundiman last night, am still processing everything.

  4. "There were workshops in the corners of parties"

    And that is why I'm jealous. But then I'm so happy that you and J were able to attend. Hopefully I get more inside view in our Justfinish clan.

    A very precise poem. Days of workshopping has every punctuation in place. The economy of language is there.


    jealous...but excited for you b/c I know this is the tipping point.

  5. Thank you all so much!

    Bethany, I'd love to hear about that.

    And Vizionheiry; the workshops lead to that, yes, but this particular poem was never workshopped. I mention this only because I'm certain there are errors that Group A would have caught. hahaha