Black Gentleman

By Rickey Laurentiis Rickey Laurentiis

O fly away home, fly away.
       — Robert Hayden

There are eyes, glasses even, but still he can’t see
     what the world sees seeing him.
They know an image of him they themselves created.
He knows his own: fine-lined from foot to finger,
each limb adjusted, because it’s had to,
    to achieve finally flight — 

                                                          though what’s believed
in him is a flightlessness, a sinking-down,
as any swamp-mess of water I’m always thinking of
might draw down again the washed-up body
of a boy, as any mouth I’ve yearned for would take down,
wrestler-style, the boy’s tongue with its own    ...    

                                                         What an eye can’t imagine
it can’t find: not in blood, swollen in the stiff knees
of a cypress, not definitely in some dreaming man’s dream — 
    Let’s have his nature speak.
What will the incredible night of  him say here, to his thousand
moons, now that he can rise up to any tree, rope or none, but not fear it?

Source: Poetry (July/August 2014).


This poem originally appeared in the July/August 2014 issue of Poetry magazine

July/August 2014
 Rickey  Laurentiis


Rickey Laurentiis is the author of Boy with Thorn, selected by Terrance Hayes for the 2014 Cave Canem Poetry Prize (University of Pittsburgh Press). He is recipient of a 2014 fellowship from the Civitella Ranieri Foundation in Italy, a 2013 Creative Writing Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, and a 2012 Ruth Lilly Poetry Fellowship.

Continue reading this biography

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, The Body, The Mind, Social Commentaries, History & Politics, Race & Ethnicity, War & Conflict, Death, Sorrow & Grieving

Poetic Terms Epigraph, Free Verse

Report a problem with this poem

Your results will be limited to content that appeared in Poetry magazine.

Search Every Issue of Poetry

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.