SELF DIALOGUE READING ETHERIDGE KNIGHT
Where’s your voice at, Marcus?
Really. When you die, will they find a notebook filled with one long poem
Tucked beneath a fluffy little pillow? Will it start: Eh yo, fuck the sonnet.
Fuck everything you’ve ever written that don’t sound like a chain gang
Clanking shackles against a railroad track. Fuck words that don’t feel
Like pick-a-switch-welts. No, fuck that—like the bone up under them welts.
Fuck lines that don’t look like family tree stumps & every poem
That don’t taste like a bullet proof vest: like using the word “nigga”
As every motherfucking part of speech. Are you a poet or black man first?
Is there a difference? You wonder who would have the nerve to ask
Etheridge. Who would need to. & are the answers the belly of this poem.
You hope this poem is a cracked prison cell, & not a fluffy little pillow.
Still, they are the same sad thing. You know they are the same.
—from Rattle #31, Summer 2009
Tribute to African American Poets
Marcus Wicker: “I was reading The Essential Etheridge Knight, holed up at a library in Indiana, the state where Etheridge served eight years in prison. Maybe ten pages into the collection, I wanted to say, ‘Holy Shit.’ I wanted to say, ‘Where the hell is your voice at, Marcus?’ Immediately, I dropped the book and scribbled down the line. Sometimes I feel a little incarcerated inside my own thoughts and throat. Poetry is the way out.” (web)