Arts & Culture / The Reading Room / Vol. 2 No. 1-2

Nat’s Vision and other poems

Derek Fordjour, Numbers

Image Credit: Derek Fordjour, Numbers, 2018, Acrylic, charcoal, oil pastel and foil on newspaper mounted on canvas, 72 x 48 inches, Courtesy of the artist

Nat’s Vision

in the garden black flowers
growing like trees
uninterested by the wind
and like towers
of shadowed bone
and in the arcade the white
death a funeral of shawls
and dresses all strung
like carnival lights
and lanterns that reflected
into themselves an infinite
fire where moths
found themselves in a hell
they could never
have fathomed not the great
moth philosophers
or prophets and from the garden
stepped first one black
ghost and then a million
barnacled and fluted
black men and misshapen
babies and river children
and the women seeming to carry
the men the children
they moved forward like the waters
of a lake into the land
so they might meet the phantoms
from the arcade who strutted
like angels their light
white as elephant
blood the bleach of them
destructive to the eyes
and bible passages red
across their flesh as if they
had among them a single book
but many nails
and the two armies met at the center
where the atom of the earth
flew about like a gnat
that risks itself for no purpose
and somehow escapes
time after time until as we know it
she doesn’t

Nat’s Vision 2

and all the heavenly bodies naked and many hewed
the gods as we knew them once revolving
in varied ways that angels gave greater
men the overseers of the word the men who find
words like stones from the ashes of the house
they built the children soldiers unaware
they will die or unmerciful heaven those that will live
unknowing of arrows or bullets and yet the parapets the alcoves the railroads
the times that all events run the fire of salvation

Nat’s Vision 3

before he had the guns to break the shadows open the mushrooms
that children and dogs eat the swamp that swallows tombstones
the ships that sank themselves to save their hearts
and sharks that learned the taste of black but need the other
taste the broken ladder that finds itself mended and broken
again by the very same man the woman marrying into death
the death that finds her stomach the man

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