Louie Crew has published extensively; has edited special issues of College English and Margins; has written four poetry volumes Sunspots (Lotus Press, Detroit, 1976) Midnight Lessons (Samisdat, 1987), Lutibelle's Pew (Dragon Disks, 1990), and Queers! for Christ's Sake! (Dragon Disks, 2003). His papers are collected by The University of Michigan.
When I Had Done It,
"Bow Back did it," I allowed,
as guiltless as my phantom.
I could more reasonably have said,
"Great-great Granddaddy did it"
if I had known chronological mythologies,
had charted my chromosomes
like an astrologer's ancestral log.
Perhaps in an earlier life, I,
a cat, back arched, shrieked.
Perhaps I stalked Notre Dame.
"Bow Back did it," I repeated.
My parents seemed not to believe.
"Bow Back did it, really."
Their smile was not nice.
I knew that they had not seen him.
shocks with glee.
Eula and Bubbah streamed past the white faces
only to discover no black back of the bus.
Although the impatient driver pointed to the two vacancies
just behind his own seat, the two spent $50
of their 1968 welfare check getting a neighbor
to drive them the 120 miles, free from what they felt
had to be a Klan plot to get them in trouble.
Four of Aunt Hattie's mother's 500 freed slaves
worked in the kitchen fifty more years.
They always knew not to take little Hattie's plate
until the child properly laid her knife and fork
across the finished meal,
and carefully folded her linen napkin.
Still Hattie refolds, a paper towel now,
sets plasticware astride her plate,
and carries the lot to the disposal
down the hall of her retirement home.
'20 y 1
n v i
i o n
s t 3
A e so little
d d lead i
i n d lead e
1 9 i lead t
8 4 her party
Poem Lula Gaines'
Substitute Maid Whispered
As She Fetched the First Plates
from the D.A.R. Luncheon
Is you Quality
Or does you stack?