AMERICAN SONNET FOR FIRE & LIGHTNING
by Terrance Hayes
By age two, gentleman toddler Mandela was known
From mountain to valley for his stellar story-telling skills.
They sat him directly on podiums or on church pulpits
Or let him let him stand on wobbly tables in markets
And schoolhouses, falling a few times, without injury.
Often he told variations of a tale where blind men
Discuss the varieties of light. Sometimes, because he was
Still nearly a baby, he spit up a substance the blue
In certain shades of honey. In fact, years later,
If he coughed while telling prisoners & prison guards
Bedtime tales, they say his jaws flashed a color somewhere
Between fire & lightning. He’d excuse himself, even at two,
I’m telling you, then resume his supernatural storytelling.
Folks far & wide would go home laughing & crying.