Stick Elegy

By Terrance Hayes b. 1971 Terrance Hayes Read the Q & A
The dead were still singing Turn the lights down low
Beneath Yellow Bridge where years before, clowning
And ass out, Stick jumped with nothing but the State
Championship trophy in his righteous clutch. The water
Was supposed to be deepest there, and for three seasons
Straight MVPs: Charlie "Fly" Kennison, Long Timmy Long,
And Rocket Jefferson, those are the names I knew, jumped

Free. But Stick's ankle broke. I fished him out, crumpled   
And bawling like the day he was born, like an object of
Baptism, and a life of bad luck followed in the shape of
Floods and fractured lightning, and then, numb, tooth-
Less, and changed, the dead refused burial, striking out, 2
By 2, 4 by 4, from the morgue house to raise trouble at
The bridge. I started hearing birds everywhere after that.

Source: Poetry (March 2008).


This poem originally appeared in the March 2008 issue of Poetry magazine

March 2008
 Terrance  Hayes


Born in Columbia, South Carolina, poet Terrance Hayes earned a BA at Coker College and an MFA at the University of Pittsburgh. In his poems, in which he occasionally invents formal constraints, Hayes considers themes of popular culture, race, music, and masculinity. “Hayes’s fourth book puts invincibly restless wordplay at the service of strong emotions: a son’s frustration, a husband’s love, a citizen’s righteous anger and a . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Relationships, Friends & Enemies, Social Commentaries

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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