poetry

Four Days

Cornelius Eady

Since it didn’t happen the evening
Of whatever the hell Emmett Till did;
Whistle, or wave, or simply galled
His throat to shoot the breeze
Into the face of white, southern
Womanhood,

I’d like to imagine he walked out
Of that store, into the hot Mississippi
Air, with the lope of a bank robber,
Swinging his bag of loot.
The dare won, his point made;
I’m not from here, and where I’m from,
This shit is crazy.

And nothing happened, the first two nights,
And no one came the third.
That’s how long he had
To be a new kind of Negro.

Cornelius Eady is a poet and playwright and is the author of eight books, including Hardheaded Weather: New and Selected Poems. In 1996 he and writer Toi Derricotte founded the black poets’ organization Cave Canem. Currently he teaches in the M.F.A. program at SUNY Stony Brook Southampton.
Originally published:
July 1, 2019

Featured

Essays

Communalism in the Veld

Rethinking property in South Africa
Glen Retief

Fiction

The Front House

Cord Jefferson

Books

The Sublime Modes of Sheila Heti

The novelist as philosopher
Noreen Khawaja

You Might Also Like

Essays

Ode to my Father’s Boots

On aging
Cornelius Eady

Poetry

Deep Song

Cornelius Eady

Subscribe

New perspectives, enduring writing. Subscribe to The Yale Review and receive four beautiful print issues per year.
Subscribe