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There Are No Names For Red.

The following cantos are excerpted from one long poem called "There Are No Names for Red." It is a poem dialoguing with history and the paintings of African American novelist and painter Percival Everett.
There Are No Names For Red

 II

 And the sky is red
 And the moon
 And light is this rain.

 This is all the terror we can bear:

 the moment between flame
 and where shadow begins
 but only so much as can be cupped
 in a child's palm

 and yet to say: the loved one
 has slipped to ghost.

 VIII

 Winter is defeated by a flock of geese flying towards the
 sun.
 The sea is only as lonely as a single conch, or a sand
 dollar
 frittered away on an impossible dream. Even this bold
 black line.
 The Igbo believe the sun is only the aura of a creature
 we have
 no name for. What is song here is ritual in another
 language.

 XI

 That woman in a New York cafe cannot escape what it
 means
 to sound like a Boer. If I were a better man, I would
 have compassion.
 The thing is this: the dead won't stay buried. Emily said,
 about the woman
 on the bus. She said are you going to the other side?
 How easy it is for light reflecting off a polished wood
 floor to bend into metaphor.
 Fire, water and mud. What a curious way to make a
 body.
 Gravity wasn't the apple to Newton's head and yet he
 claims discovery.
 But the moment you point to the black dog shivering
 against the red door
 in the relentless rain, you lose it.

 XXIII

 To be sure there are lines, shapes and swirls of color
 even.
 Like Van Gogh it is what is not alive that lives here.
 Imaginary trees in the throes of convulsions and a
 compulsion
 that is totemic not atavistic. Though
 there is sacrifice, there is compassion too.
 And this is why we fear spiders. In a pinch they will
 outsmart us.
 A dog on a moonlit night.
 A dog on a moonlit night.
 A dog on a moonlit night.
 No, it's just night spinning its lies.
 See this knife. This knife is dull. This knife pulls a
 jagged wish
 through oils as thick as butter. This knife is sacrifice.
 This knife is the priest.
 Percival's heart bleeds on a stiff white canvas window.
 And beyond? A dog and a moonlit night.


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Article Details
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Author:Abani, Chris
Publication:World Literature Today
Article Type:Poem
Date:Nov 1, 2007
Words:406
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