"I know, you thought I was colored didn't you?"
"Change the joke and Slip the Yoke," Ralph Waldo Ellison
my father was a practical man
never mentioned slavery or
'isms, opted to believe in god
and not King's futile Theory
of Fair Play nor dreamt aloud
about justice. built his own
field of play, wheeled his goal posts
about to suit himself, his rewards
inverse, immaterial, ironical.
my father was a jeweler
handled the stuff of other people's
dreams and broken dreams
in diamonds and gold 24k
never much captivated by
the trinkets he made or polished
to sell, seemed immune to such greed
his brilliants bred in others--
invisible man daring the bad-ass
streets of Chi with your $20 satchel
of incognito gold and go-between,
your re-soled shoes unworthy
of pimp or patriarch, just a
Mississippi Negro strolling State
& Madison like it was your own
Tobacco Road, yokeless.
Opal Moore is the author of Lot's Daughters (2005). Her fiction and poetry have appeared in journals and anthologies including: The Notre Dame Review, Callaloo, The Connecticut Review, and the video recording, Trouble and Hope: An Anthology of Poets in Performance and Conversation.
Moore's suite of poems, "The Children of Middle Passage," was developed as a performance art project with painter Arturo Lindsay and jazz saxophonist Joe Jennings. The performance is discussed in Noplaceness: Art in a Post-Urban Landscape (2011), essays by Atlanta art critics Cinque Hicks, et. al.
Moore is an Associate Professor of English teaching fiction and poetry writing, and African American literature at Spelman College. She is a Fulbright Scholar, a Cave Canem Fellow, a Dupont Scholar, and Bellagio Fellow. She served as a 2008 McEvers Chair in Creative Writing at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Her essay on 20th century African American poetry is included in the Cambridge History of African American Literature (2011).