POEM OF THE WEEK | George Elliott Clarke | WHITEWASH


White is waves bright as crinkled sunlight—or sunrise, done up in foam
White is Grevens Paerecider, Ironworks Pear Eau-de-Vie, Lunenburg County
Winery Montbeliard Pear Wine, and Belle-de-Brillet Poire-et-Cognac
White is the missing link* between Michael Jackson and Elizabeth Taylor
White is a spic-and-span E.R. with a scatalogical surgeon wielding a shit-smeared scalpel
White is a Snow White blow job necessitating a White House snow job
White is white diamonds white gold white chocolate white weapons white Negroes*
White is white-knuckled Rasputin as brass-knuckled Vladmir Putin, barbed nipples bared
White is Pericles, Cymbeline, King Lear, The Tempest, and The Winter’s Tale
White is instinctual, improvised, spontaneous, nonchalant, accidental sex
White is Vesper, Domino, Tiffany, Kissy, Solitaire, May Day, Jinx, plus Pussy Galore
White is seagulls dissertatin, preachin, meechin, squealin, sayin diddly squat
White is shooting blanks or drawing blanks
White is a thought-balloon in an Archie comic-strip, declaring, “Lick my balls, ye dogs!”
White is J. Alfred Prufrock, Gregor Samsa, Lolita (toting her white, pink-lined purse)
White is off-white, half-white, non-white, i.e., the vast majority of homo sapiens
White is J.F.K., a sickle cutting him down in a gutter
White is Aunt Jemima shitting on Uncle Ben’s bow-tied grin
White is Marilyn Monroe’s come-hither smile, i.e., her never-dithering slit
White is Pinochet slobbering into his phone, Nixon holding up his end
White is the nude Aida unveiled for no-holes-barred, Swedish Television
White is the blue Nile, that unsettlingly filthy river
White is the bleak spectacle of blossoms mocking a grave
White is an unreserved blizzard of apple blossoms and/or dogwood blossoms
White is Nobel Peace Prize warmongers: Kissinger, Obama, Aung San Suu Kyi*
White is—bit-by-bit—the raindrop’s cunning weight
White is a heart-wrenching earthworm weaving through soil
White is milk ivory potato silver tinsel plus strip-mined seas
White is cafe negre e grappa bianca by the Pantheon in Roma under a rain-speckled awning
White is unsteady as a flame, wavering before shadows
White is ochre, out-of-season strawberries, mould-creamed
White is Niagara’s smears and streaks singeing wet, black rocks
White is the sperm-spangled, sperm-spanked, sperm-sprayed “snapper”
White is each buried corpse, invisibly statuesque, even decorticated
White is a No-Man’s-Land of razor-wire and laughing gas, where Cosby Kids jest
White is the hero-entombed path from Hiroshima to Nagasaki
White is bitter mouths secreting venom in supermarket tabloids
White is circular quandaries solved by Aesop, but unresolved by Socrates
White is spongy, squishy, syrupy, buttery, gooey, sticky—a kittenish, drooling kitty
White is orplidean and shraggy*
White is rain that rinses away shadows by banishing the sun
White is as prone and hollow as a bathtub
White is the enigma of a nameless headstone
White is “Maybe I will, maybe I won’t,” quoting a once-murderous poet
White is a pope who is as dogmatic as a bitch
White is grouchy gulls begriming that poolside greenhouse in Lipari, that Aeolian Isle
White is the amorosissima expounding négritude in the process of an oscura seduccion
White is unbelievable cornucopia or conspicuous absence
White is the eyesore asshole who’s a low-down big-mouth
White is an infestation of mud-snorting bulldozers and/or snow-hobbled bicycles
White is a smelly by-product of genetic corruption
White is “awkwordy” as in Dr. Seuss
White is lab rats attacking—biting at, chewing through—genitals
White is brutally dramatic whenever “white generation”5 is effected
White is a one-sided, three-dimensional double-bind … quadrupled
White is a prominent, pertinent Nuisance and flagrant, all-consuming flaws
White is a grey dusk, veiling glaring ugliness for another eve
White is sophisticated mummification
White is increasingly unfortunate things or multiple, tragic situations
White is moonlight tonguing a window
White is collateral damage to Poetry
White is The Merchant of Venice (Retried), The Motorcyclist, Locating Home, “Settling
Africville,” On Entering the Echo Chamber of Epic, Canticles I (MMXVI) & (MMXVII),
These Are the Words, Canticles II (MMXIX) & (MMXX), Portia White,
and White
sanctified—if spectral—illumination
O! Let my true colour(s) beam!



* Maybe Elvis Presley?
* Norman Mailer, Bill Clinton, Madonna, et cetera.
* These terrorists giggle in their beds while their bombs blaze babies to ash.
* Cf. James Wright.
* Cf. Beatrice Chancy.


Author’s Bio

George Elliott Clarke is an Afro-Metis, hailing from Africadia (African-Nova Scotia). The founder of the field of African-Canadian literary study, he’s taught at Duke, McGill, UBC, and Harvard, and teaches at the University of Toronto. The ex-Poet Laureate of Toronto (2012-15) and of Canada (2016-17), his forthcoming book is “White.”




This poem was originally published Vallum issue 18:1 Invisibility, digital edition