Friday, April 29, 2016

April 29: Outsiderhood, Terrance Hayes, "Derrick Poem (The Lost World)"

Another Terrance Hayes poem to end the day.  This time it's about race and Ella Fitzgerald and dinosaurs and loneliness.

One of the things I appreciate about Hayes is his ability to capture the feeling of being an outsider.  In this poem, the speaker is an African American man dating a white woman.  The speaker feels shame, as if he's somehow betraying his friends and family.

Now, I'm not going to talk about feeling like an outsider.  Nothing in my experience compares to being an African American male in the United States.  Yes, I've been an outsider in my family for my whole life.  I come from a family of plumbers; I teach writing and literature and film at a university.  I work in a medical office, but, on my breaks, I scribble poems in my journal.  At the university, I'm a contingent professor in a department of full-time, tenured faculty.

So, Saint Marty knows a little bit about outsiderhood.  Certainly, not as much as Terrance Hayes does.

Derrick Poem (The Lost World)

by:  Terrance Hayes

I take my $, buy a pair of very bright kicks for the game
at the bottom of the hill on Tuesday w / Tone who averages
19.4 points a game, & told me about this spot, & this salesman
w / gold ringed fingers fitting a $100 dollar NBA Air Avenger
over the white part of me-my sock, my heel & sole,
though I tell him Avengers are too flashy & buy blue & white
Air Flights w / the dough I was suppose to use to pay
the light bill & worse, use the change to buy an Ella
Fitzgerald CD at Jerrys, then take them both in a bag
past salesmen & pedestrians to the C where there is a girl
I'd marry if I was Pablo Neruda & after 3, 4 blocks, I spill out
humming "April in Paris" while a lady w / a 12 inch cigar
calls the driver a facist cuz he won't let her smoke on the bus
& skinny Derrick rolls up in a borrowed Pontiac w / room
for me, my kicks & Ella on his way to see The Lost World
alone & though I think the title could mean something else,
I give him some skin & remember the last time I saw him
I was on the B-ball court after dark w / a white girl
who'd borrowed my shorts & the only other person out
was Derrick throwing a Spalding at the crooked rim
no one usually shoots at while I tried not to look his way
& thought how we used to talk about black women
& desire & how I was betraying him then creeping out
after sundown with a girl in my shorts & white skin
that slept around me the 5 or 6 weeks before she got tired
of late night hoop lessons & hiding out in my crib
there at the top of the hill Derrick drove up still talking,
not about black girls, but dinosaurs which if I was listening
could have been talk about loneliness, but I wasn't,
even when he said, "We should go to the movies sometime,'
& stopped.

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