Dan Sklar
 
 

 

         RUGGED

The poems in Poetry Magazine are dainty thatís the wordódainty.
Even the poem with a man looking at a womanís legs.
Too many flowers and regrets and gardens and little churches
and music lessons and not enough Malcolm X.
There arenít enough poems that clobber you.
I been trying to tell you. If I told you once, I told
you a thousand times my poetry is rugged.
I tell you itís rugged. I walk around my house
declaring it is rugged. I reckon my poetry
is rugged. It ainít dainty. Itís tough and rugged.
My wife says itís not rugged. I say it is dog-eared,
worn-out, beat-up, dog-legged, left in the rain, and rusting
in the backyard all winter. Itís a busted stone wall,
a falling down fence. There is nothing academic
about it I hope. I say my poetry is rugged.
My kids say itís rugged too because I tell them it is and
we all march through our house saying itís rugged I tell you!
My wife says itís not. I say itís a radio playing
in another room. A car engine running. A cold February night
with Jupiter and Venus and Mercury visible from home.
Itís me thinking about the FBI file on Malcolm X
and eating Shabazz Bean Pie in Harlem on the street
with a Kool Cigarette in the cold city air thinking about Thelonious Monk.
It is Malcolm X wounded then dead.
The only way to be yourself is to be yourself.
I lose and it is good.

Copyright © 2002 Dan Sklar.  All Rights Reserved.

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