Iain Haley Pollock

Like a Blind Boy Jumping from Shed to Shed


As Dad drove up on the couple
arguing in the street, Stevie Wonder

warbled My Cherie Amour on the radio.
The man jabbed his finger into the womanŐs face,


his own face torqued into a scream. 

When she tried to move around him,


he blocked her with his broad body,

and they left the trace of their argument


printed in the tree pollen that the new leaves

had dusted onto the road.  Dad pulled


his Chevette between them, and told me, six,

to roll down my window.  The woman


leaned in, her brown eyes like glass beads,

and pleaded, DonŐt let him bruise me. 


Reaching diagonally across the car,

Dad popped the lock.  The woman clambered


into the backseat, while the man

beat the roof above DadŐs head,


screaming, You leave with her,
I'll hurt you both.  But Dad eased out


the clutch and the car rolled away into D.C. 

After she gave directions, the woman didnŐt talk

till we got to her place, just sat in the back

and bobbed her head to the Howard station


WHUR, Sounds Like Washington, soul.



Comin for to Carry Me

Some nights in the Yorubaland
of dreams, I carry a wooden statue
of Shango, god of thunder.


I drop it near a termite mound,
and white ants rove out
and devour it.  When they finish,
I am alone in the Virginia woods.
All I see is the carnage of angels.


I wake with a memory of cheekbones

scarred during the Passage
or in flight through the swamp.


But this is the curse: I can never
be home, can only imagine the places
my blood has been.  The best I can do
is string bottles in the trees to ward off
and thieves, bury a nickel
in the yard, buffalo side up, to keep
the Devil from between my walls.

I am lost in this industrial brick and rust,
surrounded by colonies of white ants,
where metallic clanks measure out my days.
Above this, nothing is audible, save
at dusk, a moan: the soul's plaint
to the body, calling across the centuries
of their separation, call without response.




Child of the Sun



Great Great Aunt Aida

trained her lapdog

to attack dark-skinned men. 

A shake of her high-yaller head

and a suck on her ivory teeth,

and the Scottish terrier slipped

through the fence pickets
and nipped at a tar baby's


Somewhere in her heaven,

Aunt Aida fusses today:
the lightest Haley yet,

naked to the waist

in a plastic lawn chair,

I am a tanner of calf hide,

curing my skin in the sun,

browning my limbs like strips

of chicken in a skillet.


Aida dreamed the family

would fade into a whiteness

of table manners and book learning,

and with me she came close.

But Mom must have eaten

a pig's foot when she was pregnant,

or played those Aretha records

too loudly.  Or, I took it too hard,


that time in the grocery store

when a woman confused

my caramel brown Mother

for my nanny: I stay in the yard


all afternoon, hoping to blind

my eyes with scales and molt

like a sidewinder, to leave behind

a trail of skin, flaking, brittle and white,

cracking and split in the sun.