Frank X Walker Black Box

ISBN 13: 9780967542416

Black Box

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9780967542416: Black Box
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This powerful collection of poems from award-winning poet Frank X Walker continues the autobiograhical, political and literary journey of Affrilachia, his groundbreaking book of poems about growing up black in the Appalachian south (Old Cove Press, 2000). In Black Box he offers the reader 68 new poems -- written with passion, clarity and emotional honesty -- that illuminate experiences of race, love, social justice, family, identity and place.

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About the Author:

Frank X Walker is Associate Professor of English at the University of Kentucky and Kentucky Poet Laureate, 2013-2014. He is the author of Affrilachia, Buffalo Dance: The Journey of York (winner of the Lillian Smith Book Award), Black Box, When Winter Come: The Ascension of York and Isaac Murphy: I Dedicate This Ride. A founding member of the Affrilachian poets, Walker created the word Affrilachia to make visible the black experience in the Appalachian South.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Kentucky vs. Texas Western, 1966

On our side of the tracks
that game
cast a shadow as luminous
as Joe Louis’ gloves
raised upright, like corn stalks
like rockets, like Jesse Owens
on the gold medal stand in Berlin

I see Daddy and Flick, a skinny would-be point guard
an even skinnier coulda been forward
ace boons from way back
closer than brothers
since they could pee straight, skip school
balance filter cigarettes like fireflies
in alleys and parking lots
like traveling magicians at a two-penny carnival

I see them huddled around
a smoldering potbellied stove of a radio
still salty
from frayed leather prayers launched
toward the crooked rim
on the side of the tobacco barn
hearts pumping, muscles ready and loose
they saddle themselves aboard
every broadcasted syllable like neon jockeys
as much a part of the audience as every ticket-holder
in the arena

As much to lose as
the five black faces on the floor and
more than any body on the bench
a two-headed pep band
flat-chested cheerleaders, unable to sit
they slap palms and knuckle up
they black hand sides, wager the value of their
manhood on the final score
like so many more
black and country boys and men
­­­whose only connection to the pages in my history books
floated on AM dials and radio waves
rare television footage
that imported two-dimensional
black and white and flaming images
of Birmingham, D.C. and Watts
into quiet country towns
in middle America
Danvilles, Harrodsburgs, Perryville battlefields
reveling in segregated comfort zones
propped up by traditions as rigid as back doors
and rebel flags

It was not just a game, rebound
it was evidence that the un-civil war, pass
not only could be won, dribble
but they, though young, country and black ... shoot
were not alone ... swish!

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