poetry quarterly

10th anniversary

LANGSTON HUGHES TRIBUTE ISSUE

Jack Greer

 

SCHOOLED

bouncing back at me, black
faces, my students. bouncing
back at me, words, words
spilled from my mouth to fill
that silence. it won’t work.

the year? 1969. the assignment?
five different classes, Carver-Price
school, segregated still. here
where an un-civil war halted,
ghosts slaving to set us free.

tried Mark Twain. tried Edgar Poe.
not getting through until be-
bop of Langston Hughes.
syntax of bone, blood, bound
by slavery, too much held back,
then let go. bing bang boom
now look at them fly over those
old tobacco fields and shotgun shacks,
fledged like young black eagles.

 


Jack Greer is a poet and fiction writer, and author of America & Other Poems and Abraham’s Bay & Other Stories. During the mid-1960s he played drums for the Soul Senders, a rhythm-and-blues band that backed up Martha & the Vandellas, the Drifters, and other acts. He also taught English in an all African-American school in Appomattox, Virginia, before segregation ended there in 1969. He has written hundreds of articles, mostly about the Chesapeake Bay, as a writer on environmental science and policy issues for the University of Maryland Sea Grant College. He is the winner of two awards from the Maryland Humanities Council for his short fiction.

 

Published in Volume 12, Number 1, Winter 2011.

 

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Jack Greer