A Poet You Should Know: Afaa Michael Weaver

When we think of approachable poets, i.e., those who write poetry for those who don't like poetry (which is almost everyone, and maybe rightfully so), we think of people like Billy Collins. I nominate Afaa Michael Weaver as a better choice for that role. His work is more complex than Collins', but it's never obscure. Plus he lives a few blocks from us, so part of my purpose here is some Somerville boosterism.

Here's Afaa's website.

Here's his page at the Poets.org.

Here's a recent poem:

"Blues in Five/​Four, the Violence in Chicago"

In movies about the end of our civilization
toys fill the broken spaces of cities, flipping over
in streets where children are all hoodlums, big kids
painting themselves in neon colors, while the women
laugh, following the men into a love of madness.

Still shots show emptiness tearing the eyes of the last
of us who grew to be old, the ones the hoodlums
prop up in shadows, throwing garbage at us,
taping open our eyes, forcing us to study the dead
in photos torn from books in burned down libraries.

Chicago used to be Sundays at Gladys' Luncheonette
where church folk came and ate collard greens and chicken
after the sermons that rolled out in black churches, sparkling
tapestries of words from preachers' mouths, prayer books,
tongues from Tell Me, Alabama, and Walk On, Mississippi.

Now light has left us, the sun blocked out by shreds
of what history becomes when apathy shreds it,
becoming a name the bad children give themselves
as they laugh and threaten each other while we starve
for the laughter we were used to before the end came.

Afaa M. Weaver 蔚雅風
Pushcart prize 2013
first published in Ibbetson Street Press
Editors: Doug Holder, Dianne Robitaille, Richard Wilhelm
Advisory Editor: Harris Gardner


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