the attack could not be seen by night

By Thulani Davis b. 1949 Thulani Davis
this little phase
keeps on the same way
without variety
jazz and compromise
making blue snow grow at the windows
mohair fumes clog my throat like cats
flames pounce without burning
shadows gather in parkas at my back
turn so i can see your face
stand where i can see you man
should someone phone
i will tell whoever it is
i cannot escape this night
even saxophones do not dry
light the brown sweat
terror in white doorways
under multicolored covers
there is no way to sleep
with the phone
falling off the hook
the blaring beep of warnings
do not leave your house
do not stay home
this is the contradiction
of when i live
even fanfares and flourishes
do not announce a truce
with our personal assailants
without variety blue dust
blood traces in floor wax
black fog and nappy lint
colorless wax spreads broad
tears across all the windows
some permanent weather
happened to this building
some misplaced coal mine
had its disaster here
and i am alive inside

Thulani Davis, “the attack could not be seen by night” from Playing the Changes © 1985 by Thulani Davis and reprinted by permission of Wesleyan University Press.

Source: Playing the Changes (Wesleyan University Press, 1985)

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Poet Thulani Davis b. 1949

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Subjects Arts & Sciences, Music, Social Commentaries, War & Conflict

 Thulani  Davis


Thulani Davis is an interdisciplinary artist who has written poetry, novels, plays, and screenplays. As described on the poet’s website, Davis’s work in all genres “shares a passionate concern with history, justice, [and] African American life and is marked by the journalist’s eye for the uncovered truth.” Her poetry collections include Playing the Changes (1985) and All the Renegade Ghosts Rise (1978). Raised in Virginia . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Arts & Sciences, Music, Social Commentaries, War & Conflict

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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