Poem-a-Day Collection (29)

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Poem-a-Day Collection
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Poem-a-Day Collection by Knopf. Compilation copyright 2009 by Knopf.
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Some Different Kinda Books

By Sapphire

I
She asks why we always
read books about black people.
(I spare her the news she is black.)
She wants something different.
Her own book is written in pencil.
She painstakingly goes back & corrects
the misspelled words.
We write each day.
Each day the words look like
a retarded hand from Mars
wrote them.
Each day she asks me how
do you spell: didn't, tomorrow, done
husband, son, learning, went, gone ...
I can't think of all the words she can't spell.
It's easier to think of what she can spell:
MY NAME IS CARMEN LOPEZ.
I am sorry I was out teacher.
My husband was sick.
You know I never miss school.
In that other program
I wasn't learning nothing.
Here, I'm learning so I come.
What's wrong with my husband?
I don't know. He's in the hospital. He's real sick
I was almost out the room
when I hear the nurse ask him,
Do you do drugs?
He say yes.
I say what!
I don't know nuthin' 'bout no drugs.
I'm going off in the hospital.
He's sick.
I'm mad.
Nobody tells you nuthin'!
I didn't hear that nurse
I wouldn't know
nuthin'.
Huh?
Condoms? No, teacher.
He's my husband.
I never been with another man.

II
I think he got AIDS
he still don't tell me.
I did teacher. I tried
to read the chart at the hospital
but I couldn't figure out those words.
Doctor don't say, he say privacy.
The nurse tell me.
She's Puerto Rican. She say your husband
got AIDS.
I go off in the hospital.
Nobody tells me nuthin'.
He come home.
He say it's not true,
he's fine.
He's so skinny without his clothes
he try to hide hisself nekkid
don't want me to look.
I say you got to use
one of those things.
He say nuthin's wrong.
with him.

III
He stop sayin' that.
Now he just say he's gonna die
all the time
all the time
dying.
I say STOP that talk,
the doctor say you could
live a long time
my sister-in-law say,
he got it so you got it
it's like that.
I say, I don't got it,
my kids don't got it either.
Teacher, I need a letter for welfare
that I'm coming to school
on a regular basis.

IV
He's in P.R.,
before that he started messing around
again.
Over the Christmas holidays
he died.
That's where I was at
in P.R.
I'm fine. Yeah, I'm sure teacher.
What do I wanna do teacher?
I just wanna read some different
kinda books.

--

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Excerpt from BLACK WINGS & BLIND ANGELS. Copyright © 1999 by Sapphire. Excerpted by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.




A Message from DailyLit
Question of the Week: What's your Proustian moment (i.e., is there a smell or taste that evokes a particular memory)? Click here to share.
Message from DailyLit
Question of the Week: What's your Proustian moment (i.e., is there a smell or taste that evokes a particular memory)? Click here to share.
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