[Readings] Fire Bird, By Henry Dumas | Harper's Magazine

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Fire Bird


From Knees of a Natural Man: The Selected Poetry of Henry Dumas, which was published in October 2020 by Flood Editions. Dumas (1934–1968) was an American poet involved in the civil-rights and Black Power movements who was shot and killed by a New York City transit cop.

The fire bird has come again.
Trees blow red
where once green
paddled the summer wing.

The great oak,
hugging my window,
sheds and shakes
with shivering fingers.

Every year the fire bird comes.
It is not his beauty
that I meditate,
rather his awesome message!

“I burn them up now.
Someday I will get you.”

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