Badman of the Guest Professor

for Joe Overstreet, David Henderson, Albert Ayler & d mysterious ‘H’ who cut up d Rembrandts


u worry me whoever u are
i know u didnt want me to
come here but here i am just
d same; hi-jacking yr stagecoach,
hauling in yr pocket watches & mak
ing u hoof it all d way to
town. black bard, a robber w/ an
art: i left some curses in d cash
box so ull know its me

listen man, i cant help it if
yr thing is over, kaput,
no matter how u slice it dick
u are done. a dead duck all out
of quacks. d nagging hiccup dat
goes on & on w/out a simple glass
    of water for relief


uve been teaching shakespeare for
20 years only to find d joke
      on u
d eavesdropping rascal who got it
in d shins because he didnt know
enough to keep his feet behind d cur
tains: a sad-sacked head served on a
platter in titus andronicus or falstaff
       too fat to make a go of it


its not my fault dat yr tradition
was knocked off wop style & left in
d alley w/ pricks in its mouth. i
read abt it in d papers but it was no
       skin off my nose
wasnt me who opened d gates & allowed
d rustlers to slip thru unnoticed. u
ought to do something abt yr security or
       mend yr fences partner
dont look at me if all dese niggers
are ripping it up like deadwood dick;
doing art d way its never been done. mak
ing wurlitzer sorry he made d piano dat
will drive mozart to d tennis
making smith-corona feel like d red
faced university dat has just delivered china
       some 50 e-leben h bomb experts

i didnt deliver d blow dat drove d
abstract expressionists to my ladies
linoleum where dey sleep beneath tons of
wax & dogshit & d muddy feet of children or
because some badassed blackpainter done sent
french impressionism to d walls of highrise
       lobbies where dey belong is not my fault
martha graham will never do d jerk
shes a sweet ol soul but her hips
cant roll; as stiff as d greek
statues she loves so much


dese are d reasons u did me nasty
j alfred prufrock, d trick u pull
d in d bookstore today; stand in d
corner no peaches for a week, u lemon
u must blame me because yr wife is
ugly. 86-d by a thousand discriminating
saunas. dats why u did dat sneaky thing
i wont tell d townsfolk because u hv
to live here and im just passing thru


u got one thing right tho. i did say
dat everytime i read william faulkner i
go to sleep.

fitzgerald wdnt hv known a gangster if one
had snatched zelda & made her a moll tho
       she wd hv been grateful i bet

bonnie of clyde wrote d saga of suicide
sal just as d feds were closing in. it is
worth more than d collected works of ts
elliot a trembling anglican whose address
is now d hell dat thrilld him so
last word from down there he was open
ing a publishing co dat will bore d
devil back to paradise


& by d way did u hear abt grammar?
cut to ribbons in a photo finish by
stevie wonder, a blindboy who dances
on a heel. he just came out of d slang
& broke it down before millions.
       it was bloody murder


to make a long poem shorter—3 things
       moleheaded lame w/4 or 5 eyes

1) yr world is riding off into d sunset
2) d chips are down & nobody will chance yr i.o.u.s.
3) d last wish was a fluke so now u hv to re
turn to being a fish
p.s. d enchantment has worn off
dats why u didnt like my reading list—right?
it didnt include anyone on it dat u cd in
vite to a cocktail party & shoot a lot of
so u want to take it out on my hide—right?
well i got news for u professor nothing—i
am my own brand while u must be d fantasy of
       a japanese cartoonist

a strangekind of dinosaurmouse
i can see it all now. d leaves
are running low. its d eve
of extinction & dere are no holes to
accept yr behind. u wander abt yr
long neck probing a tree. u think
its a tree but its really a trap. a
cry of victory goes up in d kitchen of
d world. a pest is dead. a prehis
toric pest at dat. a really funnytime
prehistoric pest whom we will lug into
a museum to show everyone how really funny
u are
       yr fate wd make a good
scenario but d plot is between u &
charles darwin.

as i said, im passing thru, just sing
ing my song. get along little doggie &
jazz like dat. word has it dat a big gold
shipment is coming to californy. i by to
ride all night if im to meet my pardners
dey want me to help score d ambush
Ishmael Reed, “Badman of the Guest Professor” from New and Collected Poems. Copyright © 1980 by Ishmael Reed. Reprinted with the permission of the author.
Source: New and Collected Poems (Self-published, 1988)
More Poems by Ishmael Reed