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Knees of a Natural Man

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for Jay Wright

my ole man took me to the fulton fish market
we walk around in the guts and the scales

my ole man show me a dead fish, eyes like throat spit
he say “you hongry boy?” i say “naw, not yet”

my ole man show me how to pick the leavings
he say people throw away fish that not rotten

we scaling on our knees back uptown on lenox
sold five fish, keepin one for the pot

my ole man copped a bottle of wine
he say, “boy, build me a fire out in the lot”

backyard cat climbin up my leg for fish
i make a fire in the ash can

my ole man come when he smell fish
frank williams is with him, they got wine

my ole man say “the boy cotch the big one”
he tell big lie and slap me on the head

i give the guts to the cat and take me some wine
we walk around the sparks like we in hell

my ole man is laughin and coughin up wine
he say “you hongry boy” i say “naw, not yet”

next time i go to fulton fish market
first thing i do is take a long drink of wine

Henry Dumas, “Knees of a Natural Man” from The Selected Poetry of Henry Dumas, published by Thunder's Mouth Press. Copyright © 1968-2010 by Loretta Dumas and Eugene B. Redmond. Used by permission of the Hentry Dumas Estate, Eugene B. Redmond, Executor.
Source: The Selected Poetry of Henry Dumas (Thunder's Mouth Press, 1989)
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Knees of a Natural Man

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