A Break July 30, 2018


An Illustrated Poem


By Ismael Reed

Shaken by his bad press, the wolf
presses north, leaving caribou to
the fox,
Raven, the snow player gets his
before buzzards with bright red
collars move in to dine near the
bottom of a long scavenger line
This poem is about a skunk, no
rather about a man, who though
not of the skunk family uses
his round-eye the way skunks do
After he eats, his friends eat
He is a fool and his friends are
fools but sometimes it’s hard to
tell who is the biggest fool this
fool or his fool friends
By the time they catch us
we’re not there
We crows
Nobody’s ever seen a dead crow
on the highway
First moral:
Don’t do business with people for whom April first is an important date they will use your bank balance to buy eight thousand pies, tunics, ballet slippers with bells and a mail order lake in the  middle of a desert for splash parties
Second moral:
Before you can spot the fools in others you must rid yourself of the fool in you You can tell a fool by his big mouth
About the Author

There is one degree of separation between me and Ismael Reed: he was my son’s English teacher at University of California Berkeley.

Ishmael Reed is an original. His poem “Foology” is so inventive and inclusive. It has been with me for years and now is a good time to share him with you if you are unfamiliar with his work.

He says, in this poem, no one has seen a dead crow on the highway. I intend to be the first to find one, but after years of riding country roads at all times of the day, I’ve pretty much given him this line.

Reed is the winner of the prestigious MacArthur “Genius Award” and he has been nominated for a Pulitzer and National Book Awards. He founded PEN Oakland that has been called “The Blue Collar PEN” by The New York Times.

Credits for the images in order: hollytrail.com, pixabay.com, amazonaws.com, vice.com, boughtersinak.com, cloudinary.com, pulse.com.gh


  • A section of this poem is an uncannily prescient analysis of the current occupants of the White House:
    “but sometimes it’s hard to tell who is the biggest fool, this fool or his fool friends”.

  • March 2, 2020

    good poem m8

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