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Alexandria revisited: what would have become.

(Remembering Arna Bontemps, 1902-1973)

A glass world of Negro people: blueblack night and Red River moon, country-fed Black people in Louisiana boyhood memory -

if Blackjack had met the boychild Arna, and they together went fishing for something to know and learn

crossed paths, plotted one whole day together, mixed up the hours and the years together

what would have become of that time?

What would have become of the humpty-dumpty confederacy in old Alexandria, when they wanted question marks, wanted good news about Tarbaby and rumors of Stagger Lee?

They would try to live like Joe-Louis punches, run dirt roads together like Jackie-Robinson promises.

They would try to read outloud the picture books in segregated public libraries,

make up stories together, create dreamplaces where no Huey-Longs live.

What would have become of that time while they forced their childhood libations, and suffered half a century of segregated ex-slavery?

What would they have become, but Brothers in overalls with homegrown educations:

old old Arna and a graying Blackjack, mixing the years together

as only children, as only old folk, as only poets can.

Ahmos Zu-Bolton has won Creative Writing Fellowships from both the National Endowment for the Arts and the Louisiana Division of the Arts. He has three books forthcoming: Ain't No Spring Chicken (selected poetry), All My Lies Are True (folklore), and Talking Out Both Sides of My Mouth (journalism). Zu Bolton is associate editor of Data News Weekly and editor-in-chief of The 9th Ward Voice.
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Author:Zu-Bolton, Ahmos
Publication:African American Review
Date:Mar 22, 1999
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