You left me begging for things
most men thought they had below their belts.
I was reaching higher.
I could throw my legs up like satellites
but I knew I was fucking fallen angels.
I made them feel like demigods.
I believed my mission
to be a war zone duty:
don't create casualties,
heal them.
But I was the wounded
almost dead.
Helping the uninjured.
Men whose lusty hearts
weakened in the middle of the night
and brought them to tears, to their knees
for their former lovers.
They could look at me and tell
they did not want to endure
what beauty love scars give me.
So touch me now --
Hannibal, Toussaint.
I am a revolution without bloodshed.
I change the order of things
to suit my desperations.
You can raise your legs,
almost touch heaven.
I can be an angel,




 "Conditions XIV" © 1986,1996, 2002 by Essex Hemphill

This piece originally appeared as "The Edge," part of a poem cycle called "Rites," first published in Callaloo. The work was later republished as part of a larger poem cycle, in Essex Hemphill's book, Conditions (Washington, D.C.: BeBop Books, 1986). Reprinted here by permission of the author, the Frances Goldin Literary Agency, and the Hemphill family.


 Original Graphics © 2002 by Emmanuela Copal de León



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