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MMDCCXIII 1/2

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The cruelty of ages past affects us now
Whoever it was who lived here lived a mean life
Each door has locks designed for keys unknown

Our living room was once somebody’s home
Our bedroom, someone’s only room
Our kitchen had a hasp upon its door.

Door to a kitchen?

And our lives are hasped and boundaried
Because of ancient locks and madnesses
Of slumlord greed and desperate privacies

Which one is madness? Depends on who you are.
We find we cannot stay, the both of us, in the same room
Dance, like electrons, out of each other’s way.

The cruelties of ages past affect us now

Lorenzo Thomas, “MMDCCXIII 1/2” 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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MMDCCXIII 1/2

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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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