When your cocoon breaks,
the woman dies.
We dropped hips and spun
in a collective vision quest
Our High-Top All-Stars pounded
staccato on dust-layered clay.
We forged rivers of scarred flesh.
Sun-drenched. Mad. We challenged
the myths of the playground
Searching for a finger roll
sweet as "Ice-Man" Gervins.
A jumper that would add
two more "O"s to smooth.
Africans orphaned beyond
ancestry, we yearned
for any rite of passage:
Drum of feet
Dance of muscle
By chance, we
found this Capoeira
of ball and hoop
And bled it black.
Our dance is
for dark flesh
sway of hips
Our chant is
Our drum is
for brown suckling
lips and fingers.
Our song is
earth where we
learn the worship
of all things round.
I was sixteen, playing at grown
Waiting for college on the night-
shift of the cardboard factory
where they alchemized dead trees
into boxes for watches, appliances, foods.
Fibred dust storms devilled my lungs
beneath perpetual fluorescent daylight
Forklifts scurried crowded aisles
Banded sheets of cardboard hatchlings
cradled in metal jaws
The foreman balanced the quota
We swarmed the cavernous complex
feeding and tending the Boxers:
metal leviathans anchored to concrete
Growling through endless shifts.
Cardboard sheets were cut, perforated
and folded with half ton kisses
as blood-oil spun in transparent gear covers
I stood at the ass end. Flattened boxes
coated the conveyor's tongue a sickly brown
I counted ten boxes per batch
Raised them like toy soldiers
Lassoing them with an almost smooth
elliptical pull of twine and a quick
slice from my ring knife.
The ass end of a Boxer was an easy job
that I did badly. My fingers knew the work
But my mind grew dizzy beneath the endless
vertigo of boxes falling toward me
like bad trapeze artists
Every 30 or so batches, someone
would have to catch me up
Even then, I knew my body
Meant for muscle work
I knew my mind
Destined for rigid reasoning
I could stack a wall of heavy boxes
tight enough to erase seams
Untangle a knot of equations
into a line straight as a desert horizon
But I was no good at between work
Couldn't match the single-minded
drone of machines idling
the endless clockwork of ochre skies
Nights melted into each other like
watercolors smashed on canvas
Every coworkers mumbled curse
Every pinpoint glower of the foreman
was a sledge pounding a chisel
etching into the marble in my head:
This place, you must leave.
© Indigo Moor