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Rainbow Head

ISSUE:  Spring 1992
A black streetman comes swaggering towards me,
High starlessness above us, an invisible god
Of winter cold hiding the moon, stars and snow.

He’s in a Rasta cap and a shapeless coat
Of well-known orange tweed, an African weave.
He talks like a robot. “Hello,” I say, as if unafraid,

Parking my car just steps from High Bombay,
That curry place below Alberta’s on Pleasant Street,
Rear end of the Holiday Inn abutting in white stucco.

“I have a ball,” he says. “You like to see it?”
And off his palm rolls a rubber head
Enameled with a fiery design, a flying grimace

Of wild pain or wild glee, and I say,
“Where did you get it?” paternal, still unafraid.
“At the Maine Mall,” he says, chuckling patiently,

Waiting to get it back. “I have been in Augusta
Mental Health ten days. I am a borderline bi-polar,
A chemical disorder they say. Before, I studied literature.”

I already knew he knew I knew he was a rainbow head,
Like this Cheshire ball, unanchored as the air
And as if a tiny planet, Africa somewhere, his parents,

He explains to me, hopeful in Nigeria,
Their son between a warehouse and a tattoo parlor
In Portland, Maine, North America, my wife

Awaiting me at High Bombay with my friend
From California, a poet-professor, and I hungering
Primarily for news of children, that proof,

As Rabindrath Tagore has said, “That God is not yet
Disgusted with us
,” say, “You must be calm,
And please come see me sometime. I was the head

Of the English Department,” whispering this
With the uselessness of Glooscap the wind,
Whose meaning is the void and the wildness of meaning.


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