Evie Shockley

Evie Shockley Poems

you put this pen
in my hand and you
take the pen from you put this pen
...

when your mother can rise from her place
on the pew during the early service,

early enough that the sun barely fills the sky
...

i cop a squat on a squared-off log,
to watch you ball on the community center court.
butt numb, i shift my weight
...

He's as high as a georgia pine, my father'd say, half laughing. southern trees
as measure, metaphor. highways lined with kudzu-covered southern trees.
...

i want her tin skin. i want
her militant barbie breast,
resistant, cupped, no, cocked
...

My father: younger, handsome, downright square,
eyes like brown buttons fastening his face
over his soul, mouth not too straight to swear,
...

we make midnight a maquette of the year:
frostlight glinting off snow to solemnize
the vows we offer to ourselves in near
...

only 3 of 100 black boys
entering kindergarten will graduate college—
in the night sky, shooting stars
...

All month this country has careened toward cold
and winter's celebrations: what a star
announced—a birth—and then a chance to fold
...

when i was younger, trees
were green, money was green, money
grew on trees, or trees grew up
...

Arrived in a boat, named
and unnamed, twenty, pirated
...

my sister's visit
to india begins
it. i asked for a sari,
...

Dreaming the lives of the ancestors,
you awake, justly terrified of this world:
you could dance underwater and not get wet,
...

something is always burning, passion,
pride, envy, desire, the internal organs
going chokingly up in smoke, as some-
thing outside the body exerts a pull
...

the screed seen here blesses
the sweet, the meek, the gentle,
the serene. let eyes ensembled
...

wedged in the top branches, rain still sighing
to earth as a dissolute sky dissolves,
a mozambican woman turns mother,
...

Dear Daughter,
Can you be fifty-three this
month? I still look for you to peek around
my door as if you'd discovered a toy
...

at 93, you determined to pick up and go—
and stay gone. the job nkrumah called you to,
to create, at last, your encyclopedia africana
(encompassing a continent chipped
...

self-portrait with cats, with purple, with stacks
of half-read books adorning my desk, with coffee,

with mug, with yesterday's mug. self-portrait
...

music city u.s.a. it was, nothing doing without a song,
and not just twangy tunes that rhyme southern drawls
...

Evie Shockley Biography

Born and raised in Nashville, Tennessee, Evie Shockley received her BA from Northwestern University. After studying Law at the University of Michigan, she earned her PhD in African Literature from Duke University. Shockley's first book, The Gorgon Goddess, was published by Carolina Wren Press in 2001. Since then she has published three books: a half-red sea (Carolina Wren Press, 2006), 31 words * prose poems (Belladonna* Books, 2007), and the new black (Wesleyan University Press, 2011). Embracing both free verse and formal structures, Shockley straddles the divide between traditional and experimental poetics. A review of her work in Library Journal noted that, "Shockley’s work incorporates elements of myth without being patently 'mythical' and is personal without being self-indulgent, sentimental without being saccharine." Her reported influences include Gwendolyn Brooks, Lucille Clifton, and Harryette Mullen. A Cave Canem graduate fellow, Shockley was also awarded a residency at the Hedgebrook Retreat for Women Writers in 2003. Two of her poems were displayed in the Biko 30/30 exhibit, a commemoration of the life and work of anti-apartheid activist Steven Biko, which toured South Africa in 2007. Shockley was co-editor of the poetry journal jubilat from 2004-2007, and teaches African American Literature and Creative Writing at Rutgers University-New Brunswick.)

The Best Poem Of Evie Shockley

— Shall Become As —

You put this pen
in my hand and you
take the pen from
my hand. the night
before the full moon

the moon seems
full. what is missing
is a dark hungry
sickle, the sliver
of shadow eating

us up inside. after
the mountains breathe
their mint-and-sorrow
green against the long
summer sky, they burst

into hot october
laughter, lighting
the horizon with citrus,
rust, and blood. you
put this knife in my

hand. we pull. we
meet as oceans come
together, heaving
against and clinging
across our salt watery

boundary. we approach
endlessly like two rails
of one track, tied
in a parallel that
promises our eyes to

merge, someplace far
off in the distance. you
put this feather in my
palm. my fingers
close around flight.

Evie Shockley Comments

Fabrizio Frosini 31 December 2016

by the way... Evie Shockley was born in 1965..

18 0 Reply
Jeff Fleischer 26 January 2017

Can you feel for me? It was my daughter and her child Torn away from my heart by a man whose passions went wild. Does he care that I will never see them anymore? He just ignored their cries when they hit the floor. You can not imagine the painful thoughts that leaped through my mind. When I realized that bloodstained kin was all I would find. How could someone so very unstable Have once been a soul seated at G-d's table. G-d, one thing I must ask: Please punish the evildoer and take him to task. G-d give me strength so I will quit looking for the reason That my Mary and my Troy are not alive to see another season.

11 1 Reply
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7 0 Reply
Paul Amrod 27 September 2019

Hi Evie, Thanks for showing your genius to our community!

11 0 Reply
Paul Amrod 27 September 2019

A wonderfully modern funky style. I love her distinctiveness.

12 0 Reply
Jeff Fleischer 26 January 2017

My Son, The Drummer Boy - Poem by Jeff Fleischer My son, the drummer boy. Barely thirteen, will march off To this civil war. I hope and pray I will see him again on earth Before I see him in heaven. His father is dead. His brothers are lost. There will be no man of the house left. His sisters and I fear for his life. The enemy cares not if They cause me another reason to grieve. I told my son, the drummer boy, That the most important thing of all To remember is to keep your mother's And sisters' love in your heart.

10 2 Reply
Jeff Fleischer 26 January 2017

My son, the drummer boy. Barely thirteen, will march off To this civil war. I hope and pray I will see him again on earth Before I see him in heaven. His father is dead. His brothers are lost. There will be no man of the house left. His sisters and I fear for his life. The enemy cares not if They cause me another reason to grieve. I told my son, the drummer boy, That the most important thing of all To remember is to keep your mother's And sisters' love in your heart.

11 3 Reply

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