Terrance Hayes, “Snow for Wallace Stevens”

Terrance Hayes

No one living a snowed-in life
can sleep without a blindfold.
Light is the lion that comes down to drink.
I know tink and tank and tunk-a-tunk-tunk
holds nearly the same sound as a bottle.
Drink and drank and drunk-a-drunk-drunk,
light is the lion that comes down.
This song is for the wise man who avenges
by building his city in snow
For his decorations in a nigger cemetery.
How, with pipes of winter
lining his cognition, does someone learn
to bring a sentence to its knees?
Who is not more than his limitations?
Who is not the blood in a wine barrel
and the wine as well? I too, having lost faith
in language, have placed my faith in language.
Thus, I have a capacity for love without
forgiveness. This song is for my foe,
the clean-shaven, gray-suited, gray patron
of Hartford, the emperor of whiteness
blue as a body made of snow.

Terrance Hayes won the 2010 National Book Award for poetry for his fourth collection, Lighthead. Other poems in this collection include “The Golden Shovel” (Poetry Daily), “God Is an American” (Guernica), and “Carp Poem” (Konundrum Engine).

Several other poems were published in Poetry, including “Mystic Bounce,” “Cocktails with Orpheus,” and “New Folk.” And you can find more at the Academy of American Poets website: “Lighthead’s Guide to the Galaxy,” plus audio recordings of Shakur and “Liner Notes to an Imaginary Playlist.”

18 November 2010 | poetry |