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Home / Issue 34 / Schoolyard


By Arrie Barnes Porter

The sound of shrill-tinned laughter

Floats like patterned voile,

Resting on the autumn ground.


We chase each other round the oblong greenish square

And ride the merry go-round.


Heart’s like drums

Echo through our nascent bodies.

A tethered ball loops the pole;


Shirley always wins. 

Out of air,

We enter the fawned-brick building

In unison, a single timbre’s breath


From each bantam soul.

In class,

I recite the words of Countee Cullen

 “I have a rendezvous with life,

             In days I hope will come.” (1)


There is the hope of many days before me.

The teacher says, “Get your lesson,

Know your history,

Understand who you are and where you come from,


So you won’t be erased.”


I speak clearly,

Pronounce each consonant

And vowel like I’m chewing on ‘em, 


                                                            New language grows like branches from my tongue.

The teacher is pleased,

Having done her best to perfect me for survival.


                                                                         My benighted spirit says:

“It is of no never-mind to me.

Africa was so long ago

And Texas ain’t really the south.    


 So, why do they still call me nigger.”

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