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The Leopard

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The eyeballs on her behind are like fire
Leaping and annoying
The space they just passed
Just like fire would do

The ground have no mouth to complain
And the girl is not braver herself

She is beautiful in her spotted
Leopard ensemble. Heartless so

To keep her fashionalbe in New York
Leopards are dying

Crude comments flutter around her
At lunchtime. She sure look good
She remembers nine banishing speeches

More powerful than this is the seam
Of the leotard under her clothing

Her tail in the leotard is never still
The seam!
She feels it too familiar on her leg
As some crumb says something suggestive

The leopard embracing around her
Is too chic to leap and strike

Her thoughts fall back to last semester’s karate

Underneath, the leotard crouches up on her thigh
It is waiting for its terrible moment!

Lorenzo Thomas, “The Leopard” from Chances are Few. Copyright © 1979 by Lorenzo Thomas. Reprinted by permission of Blue Wind Press.
Source: Chances are Few (Blue Wind Press, 1979)
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The Leopard

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  • Lorenzo Thomas was born in Panama and moved with his family to New York in 1948. His father was a pharmacist and his mother a community activist. The family lived in the Bronx and Queens, where Thomas, a native Spanish speaker, soon became fluent in English. He attended Queens College and joined the Navy in 1968. After serving in Vietnam, Thomas moved to Texas. A writer whose work is both political and personal, he is the author of five poetry collections: A Visible Island (1967), Dracula (1973), Chances Are Few (1979, reissued in 2003), The Bathers (1981), and Dancing on Main Street (2004). Thomas was the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts grant and the Houston Festival Foundation Award.

    Thomas was part of the Black Arts Movement in New York City and a member of the Umbra workshop, whose other members included Ishmael Reed, Calvin Hernton, and Tom Dent....

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