Michael S. Harper

May 9, 2007


Born in Brooklyn, New York but went to the west coast for much of his education
Is a professor at Brown Univesity
Secretly listened to jazz recordings as an adolescent
Work takes the view that life is at best a melancholy business
Mourns the deaths of two infant sons in a series of tormented elegies
Pursued premedical studies before being deterred by racism
Forces scientific culture and black oral culture


I place these numbed wrists to the pane/ watching white uniforms whisk over/ him in the tube-kept/ prison/ fear what they will do in experiement/ watch my gloved stickshifting gasolined hands/ breathe boxcar-information-please infirmary tubes/ distrusting white-pink mending paperthin/ silkened end hairs, distrusting tubes/ shrunk in his trunk-skincapped/ shaven head, in thighs/ distrusting-white-hands-picking-baboon-light/ on his own son who will not make his second night/ of this wardstrewn intensive airpocket/ where his father’s asthmatic/ hymns of night-train, train done gone/ his mother can only know that he has flown/ up into essential calm unseen corridor/ going boxscarred home, mamaborn, sweetsonchild/ mama-son-don-gone/ me telling her ‘nother/ train tonight, no music, no breathstroked/ heartbeat in my infinite distrust of them:
and of my distrusting self/ white-doctor-who-breathed-for-him-all-night/ say it for two sons gone,/ say nightmare, say it loud/ panebreaking heartmadness:/ nightmare begins responsibility.

-Nightmare Begins Responsilibity (in whole)


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