Isaac Black

Isaac Black, a MFA graduate of Vermont College, has published in journals like The Beloit Poetry Journal, Callaloo, Poetry Quarterly, Boston Literary Magazine, and Spillway. Founder of a major 501(c) college help organization, he’s been awarded the Gwendolyn Brooks Literary Award for fiction and Broadside Press Award for poetry. He’s also been a Pushcart nominee, and recipient of poetry fellowships from the New York State Creative Artists Service Program (CAPS) and New York Foundation of the Arts. Isaac’s also the author of the African American Student’s College Guide (John Wiley & Sons).



The ghosts in my dreams looked deranged, kept
multiplying. I didn’t see any Archangel. I only saw
a thousand-and-one hollow-eyed men, women
(their orphans and offspring) waving back at me,
gone crazy, screaming, as if they were imprisoned
inside the ribcage of some shapeless psychiatric
ward. Today, I’m wincing and afraid in the next cubby,
staring at the padded walls, keyless locks, unable
to defecate, empty my bladder, be romantic, feel
desire. It’s a merciless, God-forsaken nightmare if
this is one. I feel like I’m inside Oliver Stone’s head,
sucking-up setups, dubbed-effects, edits, on the last
storyboard ever. I’m witless, black as night, can’t
count forward or backwards. There are no gold-
plated trophies, wild figs, cheese in the fridge,
poets glorifying anything. The oddest faces look like
trout you can’t catch. What’s not hemorrhaging?
I see a fiery, unfurling toilet flush, another Devil’s
Ground Hog’s day. I’m sick, hear the rivers of acid
splashing under my bench (reserved) on the New
York City pier overlooking the Hudson River .
Once again, it’s going to be the “perfect storm.” At
this minute, I can hear the Elona Gay, that B-29,
in the air.  It fills my mouth. I hear the most horrific
scream ever: “It’s Baby Boy, Five Tons!” The switch
is all bones. I stick a finger in each ear, push up
to my elbows. Passersby (not far from the Statue
of Liberty , Ground Zero) stroll, roller blade, pedal
on their bikes. I won’t give anyone’s name, collect
a single driver’s licence, Citi card. Nope, won’t
find an identifiable photo, fingerprint, strand of
hair. I’ll be traveling through electric wires. Pass
Stuyvesant High, Taco Bell . To the dark, very
dark, E-Subway Station. “Hi Honey, I’ll be late.”
It’s Rush Hour, and I’m Queens Bound. Fish for
dinner, stir fries. Nobody will stop the train, pick
up any broken harp, smell a muskrat. At every
stop I see Hollow-eyed gristle, endless spools
of red-orange, crime-scene tape. In the end, I’ll
grace the food, try to catch that one star in the sky.
It’s all, well, speechifying.  I can never get off at
my stop, and if I could you’d never find me there.

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