“Late Seventies,” “Ants” and “And Again”

Poetry by William Ray

“Late Seventies,” “Ants” and “And Again”

Late Seventies

It’s strange how often

All these years later

I hear this guy

Sprawled big in that way certain

Italian men can be

Cater-corned across from

My solo table in the Boylston St eatery

It was about the game

Games not being of interest to me since, oh,

High school but oh so important to others’ happiness

His team must have won

His full mouth shouted it, his eyes full too

“Some fuckin’ nigga, huh? Huh?

Some fuckin’ nigga!”

His lunch partner kept chewing, listening

But stole a look my way

A little nervous,

Not that he wasn’t pumped about the win

And, after all, it was the late 70s, past the white

Heat of the Panthers or stare downs of everyday

Race confrontation

But his eyes’ plea, “Hey Man, there’s a black dude over there!”

Didn’t check his football friend: He was talkin’ about football

And the nigga’s run was amazing –

No doubt cutting right and left, leaping,

Just like this guy’s words

Still leap inside my head

Forty years later.

Ants

From an obtuse seat

In a courtyard noteworthy only

For a madness of brick spirals, my

Careless eyes saw twin obsidian ants,

Wedged in tight with some sylph — an

Unknown (past) traveller under pale wings.

The scrambling hourglass backs gave a choice

Of interpretations of their crimped rushing:

That they worked together, one thief, to carry their prey —

That they warred over a find, their jerky

Heaves and lunges tossing them all forward.

I bestirred myself to watch,

Tapped their energy, and saw:

The resistor's plight was clear as the spring light:

Beaten

Lifted Up

by the two —

Security force mixing business-quick

Anger with the blood of dissent.

They spent themselves over the surely hot,

And, one fancies, scandalized brick.

I didn't see them reach any goal —

Some shady grass or something —

But their haste was terrible.

And Again

Smoke again. rising like pain

from the cut-hole

hot, sick.

Even unknown history

twists blood.

The wiser watch, lips pursed.

Damned again!

No hoses tonight. no dogs.

But hot breath in tear gas across

lineslights out

lights out

Restraint is fear. contempt.

Words are bombs.

Under the sunken sickly moon

The short horizon burns

And voices echo.

About the Author

William Ray

William V. Ray is a retired English teacher who has also been a textbook editor, freelance writer, and, of late, a café owner. His published work includes textbooks as well as poetry and poetic prose. His work appears in Poetry East, Subprimal Poetry Art, Pudding, The Opiate, The Art Bin, Painters & Poets, Mass Poetry, Poetry Pacific, and elsewhere. He is the editor of the online journal The Courtship of Winds. He lives outside Boston, Massachusetts. For more detail, please visit his page at LinkedIn.