Excuse Me My Trespasses

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Jimsoned, my words are; clovered, clustered.

Excuse my hair, my platform eyes.

I’m crowded by theorems

and connected investigations;

they clutter the chairs, they jimmy all the locks.

They return my kisses with such sobriety

that blue and slow are crowns, synonyms.

I might have waited elsewhere.

But looking is its own gym, its own pay-off,

and the distance seems articulate:

silver, chrome, the wind disarranging

leaves fields variousness of landscapes,

the James flowing south to weathers

and east into weathers.

I crow over the vastness,

and it returns such vastness.

Note: The “Jim Crow” is a poetic form invented by Purvis Cornish, and it requires repeating those two words in regular patterns. This poem also borrows words and phrases from Robert Hayden’s “[American Journal].”

Chiyuma Elliott is a professor in the African American Studies department at UC Berkeley.