an eco-poem

Quincy Troupe: Poem for Friends

Quincy Troupe is the author or co-author of 20 books and 10 volumes of poems. His most recent books are Earl the Pearl, co-authored with Earl Monroe (April 2013) and  Errancities poems, (2012). Among this other books are Miles: The Autobiography with Mile Davis, a memoir, Miles & me and The Pursuit of Happyness, with Chris Gardner. The Architecture of Language won the 2007 Paterson Award for Sustained Literary Achievement and Transcircularities: New and Selected Poems won the 2003 Milt Kessler Poetry Award and was selected by Publisher’s Weekly as one of the ten best books of poetry in 2002. Troupe has won three American Book Awards (1980 for poetry and 1990 for non-fiction) and a 2010 Lifetime Achievement Award. His work has been translated into over 25 languages, and in July 2014, Castor Astral will publish a book of his translated poems in France titled Erranicities and Other Poems. Professor Emeritus at the University of California, San Diego, he lives in Harlem with his wife Margaret and edits Black Renaissance Noire at New York University.  (Photo of Troupe: © 2013 Rohan Preston. “Poem for Friends” written in 1968, first appeared in New Directions 22, edited by James Laughlin, in 1970. It appears in Transcirularities: New and Selected Poems © 2002 by Quincy Troupe, Coffee House Press.) Troupe serves on the Advisory Board of and is among its most distinguished members.


                     For Calvin Hernton 


the earth is a wonderful 

yet morbid place 

crisscrossing maps of complexities 

reaping the beauty of living 

seeking death 

we go 

with foot/steps 

that are either heavy, or light 

(depending upon your weight 

your substance ) 

go into light, or darkness 

(depending upon the perception 

of your vision) 

we flounder, we climb  

we trip 

we fall 

we call upon dead prophets 

to help us 


they do not answer us 

(we hear instead the singing in the leaves 

the waves of oceans, pounding ) 

we see sheer cliffs  

of mountains polished by storms 

sculptured to God's perfection 

we see the advancing age of technology 

see soul-less monsters 

                                      eating up natures perfections 

hear wails & screams 

                                      & sirens howling 

but hear no human voices calling 

we sit at the brink of chaos laughing 

we idle away time 

when there is no time 

left us 

we jump out of air/planes with no parachutes 

we praise the foul mad/ men of war 

we are pygmalions 

                                   in love with cold, bleak stones 

& aphrodite is not here 

                       to save us 

                       seeking death 

we come to origins 

forks in the road of indecision 

shaped like wishbones 

& we go down unknown roads 

seeking light in an ocean 

of pure darkness 


journey if you can 

to the far poles of the world 

there you will find flocks 

of sick birds 

dying in the blue sea that is sky 

you will find herds of animals 

huddled together in the snow 

against the cold 

with no feeling or touch 

of each other, no knowledge 

no love, dying in the fierce 

blowtorching cold 

yet they gaze eagerly 

into seas of light 

meeting darkness 


& the mind is so wide 

& wide again 

                         so broad & deep

& deep, again 

                         far down we go so slow 

to find knowledge 

sad songs of who we are   

but go slow from here 

from everywhere, effendi 

go slow into sadness 

                                   of who we are 

                                                where we are 

go slow into slow dance of what 

you are  

                    go slow into beauty 

of space & time & distance 


                  every breath that you breathe 

for it is precious 


                                  go free into sun/lit days 

fly free like old african ibis' 

confronting the wind 

swim long in the currents of these times 

like the dolphin 

                            plunging free through blue waves 

for time is holy 

& the faces that we see   

upon the curl of the foam 

                      of the fingered blue waters 

are the faces of the world, sandstones 

falling through hourglasses 

& deposited upon these shores 

& they are seeds 

in need of nourishment 

in need of beauty, requesting wisdom 

are children of the universe, glissando falling 

upon these death littered shores 

that are reefs breaking rabid waves 

seaweeds that remind of varicose veins 

peeping up through the skin of these transparent 

shallows - churning red waters beating up against 

savage rocks, spiked with bones - 

surrounding these islands 

where all life buries itself 

under rocks & sand 


we must investigate our bodies 

we must investigate our sources of beauty 

we must investigate our exalted images 

the parade of decayed heroes that we cheer 

that we help to invent 

we must probe & descend into life/styles 

like surgeons seeking cancer 

we must cut away with truth's scalpel 

all verbose flesh, all diseased portions 

we must fly free & weightless  

as a summer breeze 

to nests in truth's sanctuary 


& the shell is bursting  

from within  

from without 

& in order to go out  

we must come in, again 

so come in, come in, come in, again 

go out, go out, go out, again  

go out there now effendi 

                to the sweet places 

where the good folks gather,  

     talk to everyone 

for everyone is someone whose life is important to someone 

to everyone 

                         whose flesh is a/part of your own 



so come in, come in, come in, again

go out, go out, go out, again 

be beautiful for all people of the world 

walk back into streets that are ours, effendi 

walk back into hours & years carrying joy 

go now, go now, go now 


do your thang 

do the righteous thang 

for the world 

for the world 

to save the world 

to save our children 

to save yourself

Copyright (c) 2002-2013 by Quincy Troupe. All rights including electronic are reserved by the author. Appreared in New Dicrections 22, 1970 and Transcircularities, New & Selected Poems, 2002.

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