Tuesday Poem


Vas en Afrique! Back to Africa! The butcher we used to patronize in the
….. Rue Cadet market,
beside himself, shrieked at a black man in an argument the rest of the
….. import of which I missed
but that made me anyway for three years walk an extra street to a shop
….. of definitely lower quality
until I convinced myself that probably I’d misunderstood that other thing
….. and could come back.
Today another black man stopped, asking something that again I didn’t
….. catch, and the butcher,
who at the moment was unloading his rotisserie, slipping the chickens
….. off their heavy spit,
and he answered—how get this right?—casually but accurately brandished
….. the still-hot metal,
so the other, whatever he was there for, had subtly to lean away a little,
….. so as not to flinch.

by C.K. Williams
Selected Poems
Noonday Press 1994