Dancers] Theme-Nativity: The Reason for
Let cowbells, sterno-heated goombay drums,
conch shells, trumpets, and trombones
regale past dawn, immortal one.
The birth of god be now our song, no sober doctrines of demure
but white rum, the undone
business of shaking all shame from the seat
in a few days' leisure from service.
Jesus Lord, dem what say
Mussie firs' obey da rules to break em
is always da unrulies' rulers
knowin da rule burnin to bus' free
Once, a comet's millennial flare
shone in enshrinements that pharoahs described.
Camels and scholars looked up to the sky
swollen fat with new-moon-tides.
And there were in the same countersign
shells abiding in the fickleness
keeping wassail over the flight by nickelodeon
and Io, the anemia of the look came upon them
and the glob of the look shone round about them
and they were sore afraid.
But de angel tell um say, "Must don't fear!
I have good news…."
And the trumpets
and bicycle horns
were neither swallowed up
by the percussion.
[Scrap Gang #1]
Ma-ma bake dejohnny cake,
If ya gown too narrow,
Buy half a yard. Make it wider.
© 2001 Keith Cartwright
Keith Cartwright lives in Buchanan, Virginia
and teaches at Roanoke College. He has taught at College of
the Bahamas, Coastal Georgia Community College, Selma University,
and Murray State University. He has served in the Peace Corps
in Senegal and with the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service in
New York City. He is an advisory/contributing editor of Yinna,
a journal of Bahamian arts and culture published in Nassau.
His long poem, Saint-Louis: A Wool Strip
Cloth for Sekou Dabo, was published by Xavier Review
Press of New Orleans (1997). Selections from Saint-Louis
were reprinted in the Carnegie Mellon anthology, American
Poetry: The Next Generation (2000). Some of his most
recent poems have appeared in Shenandoah, Seneca
Review, Yemassee, and The Distillery.