Wisdom of Solomon (XIX)

George Elliott Clarke

1. Post-Flood, the world was scoured clean—
sanitized, baptized spic-and-span.
Gone was overhangin clouds;
up leapt grass outta recedin waves.      2. But sinners spawned new Oppression;so that serfs again swung low into cotton;or cotton-pickin machete swingers wadedinto sugar-cane jungles;harvests became boodle in treasuries;warhorses got harnessed to chariots;chariots got outfitted with scythes;the plutocrats took commandand assigned preachers to inform the poorthat their hungers and pains result from Sin.      3. Commenced afresh Corruption.Virgins’ ankles embraced centaurs’ hooves;axe-murderers swung at turbans;scabrous kings gibbeted seraphic, droop-winged nymphs.      4. Spurning bumbling hubby and fumbling groom,Mamas sold pussy for bread.      5. Anger tripped up their heels; Lust dizzied em.Down deep, deep down, they plummeted,while angels cheered on high,jeering at these flaming, crisping falling.      6. The degenerates screamed, Basta! Basta! Basta!*Friday-faced, gloomy, the harlots charred,becoming Hell’s incinerated inmates.      7. Globally, frogs and locusts burst outta cold mists,and wracked green crops brown and black.      8. Lions turned sharks, killin for sport, not nutrition.      9. Animals and elements mixed up—as if trumpetscould be beaten like drums.Likewise, crows became blizzardsand coal became wolves.      10. Fire now ate up water.      11. The iniquitous toppled into the dark liquidityof crypts. [YAM (Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario) 30 mars mmxvii
& Ottawa (Ontario) 10 avril mmxvii]

∗ Italian: Enough. The epithet equals a barley-fumble,
i.e., a call for a truce by the losing side.

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A pioneering scholar of African Canadian literature, George Elliott Clarke is the E. J. Pratt Professor of Canadian literature at the University of Toronto. Formerly at Duke University, he has also taught at McGill University, the University of British Columbia, and Harvard University. As poet, his awards include the Trudeau Fellows Prize, the Governor-General’s Award, the Eric Hoffer Book Award (U. S.), and the Premiul Poesis (Romania). He served as the seventh Canadian Parliamentary Poet Laureate in 2016–17.

African American Review

Fall 2018

Baltimore, Maryland

Johns Hopkins University Press

African American Review is a scholarly aggregation of insightful essays on African American literature, theatre, film, the visual arts, and culture; interviews; poetry; fiction; and book reviews. Published quarterly, AAR has featured renowned writers and cultural critics including Trudier Harris, Arnold Rampersad, Hortense Spillers, Amiri Baraka, Cyrus Cassells, Rita Dove, Charles Johnson, Toni Morrison, and Ishmael Reed. The official publication of LLC African American of the Modern Language Association, AAR fosters a vigorous conversation among writers and scholars in the arts, humanities, and social sciences.

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