“Three Weeks with Etheridge Knight” by Pamela Rasso

Pamela Rasso


The first time we met, Etheridge eyed me with suspicion, said “O a white picket fence white girl.” And “White Paper Doll.” He had been to prison. I told him I had never known anyone who had been to prison. He called me “Starch.” He said he had snatched an old lady’s pocketbook. I told him that stealing was wrong. He called me “White Sunday School Teacher.” He said he had been given 25 years for stealing an old lady’s pocketbook. I agreed that was too harsh. He called everyone “Brother” and “Sister” such as “Brother Bill” or “Sister Sue.” He said white girls flashed their shiny white thighs at him. He said he saw my white short shorts, tube top, white titties. He said was I trying to burn some coal? I told him I liked his haiku very much, thought his poems were rough jolt raw red meat. He said “You dig my haiku? You dig my haiku. Wow.” He called me “Smarty Pink Ass.” He read my poems. I said growing up Italian wasn’t so easy either. He said “O, Mafia White Girl.” I said “Exactly my point.” He signed his book for me writing “The stars are free/ & WE gonna be,/ Too.” Then he called me “Refined White Sugar.” He called me “Top Shelf Woman.”

from Rattle #43, Spring 2014
Tribute to Love Poems


Pamela Rasso: “Growing up I read a lot of books. I was extremely shy so I began writing poetry as a way of communicating. My 9th grade English teacher told me how good he thought my poems were and published them in the high school literary magazine. In 12th grade I was selected as editor. Next I had the privilege of studying with several poets, including Robert Hayden and Jack Gilbert. I realized how important it was not to be afraid to take risks in my work. My poem on Etheridge Knight is from a collection of prose poems that are unified by a single theme.” (web)

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