Owen May: Poetry

Today’s blog features a guest writer! J. Owen May is an old friend who also happens to be an excellent poet. I recently found some of his work and wanted to pass it along. With his permission, I have included two of his poems below. You can find more at owenmay.com.

J. Owen May has an MFA from University of Memphis. He grew up in Zimbabwe as child of missionaries and translates German plays.

On our Rwandan Refugees: a memory

Zimbabwe, 1994

You have to remember:
sometimes a man does walk
out of the sunset, at first
staining the dark lily fabric,
then growing and becoming
a noise, a need, but it’s not
until you see one arm clearly
the red eyes, the paper skin,
not until you hear him ask
if you have any water please
please I have come so far

“Mugabe Rejects Charges that Detainees are Tortured”

The government thought we were terrorists
because we looked at a house.    White people
would never live in such a house, they thought.

My parents were held for hours, questions,
questions, questions.

While my brother and sister and I cried
in the car, answerless,

soldiers practiced shooting sacks
of corn meal. They looked in at us
from outside of the car, gleaming black
skin pearled in sweat. The weight, they said
through foggy windows,
the weight was accurate to judge.
They must have thought us too young.

The want was after they let us go, no explanation given.
My parents read us the Passover story
and I waited in bed for some dark stranger

to brush my hair back and say, Yes
I will take you into the dark
made of mothers’ wailings,
I will show you what it means
to shed blood.

More at owenmay.com
(Photo: Ralf Ellerich)

One Response to “Owen May: Poetry”
  1. Joan says:

    I like this poet. I also like the fact that you are willing to share other people’s work on your blog. That is really cool!

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