The most complicated systems
are a solid, cemented structure
of fake palm trees that do nothing
It grows dark in the shadow of a white marble building,
and I feel bad, feel that it is my fault. I don’t want
to go to that dark place of my ancestors, cold, white,
snake-bitten in the darkness.
I beckon a physical light,
a light that begins to tremble
and bear witness to all
that they did, and by acts
like those thou didst teach
thy people the hope
of a new and better understanding.
But then the spirits vanished, and after that, they lived apart.
T. Allen Culpepper
Note: This poem resulted from an exercise in a workshop on “Doing Stuff with Words” led by Grant Jenkins of the University of Tulsa. The poem was constructed from fragmentary phrases and clauses culled more or less randomly from a variety of texts (including essays by Freud, the Bible, the Quoran, Joyce’s Dubliners, a novel by Rilla Askew, The Autobiography of Malcolm X, etc.).