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  • Angela Davis Plays the Masters

    A poem.

    Angela Davies
    Angela Davis via

    A poem.

    Angela Davis
    Strides to the eighteenth tee
    Wearing Roman sandals
    a purple and gold dashiki
    And earrings the size of pinwheels
    She looks like the Queen of Africa
    Or maybe Oakland, California
    With her entourage of Huey Newton,
    Eldridge Cleaver and Malcolm X

    The crowd,
    A Southern crowd
    Wearing bucket hats, head scarves
    And Bermuda shorts, reddening
    Snow-white arms and eating
    Egg-salad sandwiches oozing
    Mayonnaise onto their shoes
    Boos insistently from the galleries

    And yet she is unperturbed,
    Her playing partner, Arnold Palmer,
    Resplendent in his Jay-Mar slacks,
    white belt, pink LaCoste shirt,
    and calm visage
    bronzed from years
    of inveterate country club living
    double Beefeater Martinis and
    slabs of rich meatloaf

    They stand together
    Tied up and heading
    To the clubhouse
    Separate but equal
    At the threshold of history
    A black woman playing
    A white man in the
    Valhalla of golf and
    So how can this happen?
    Because this is America

    She eyes the long, perfectly green
    Fairway ahead,
    A fairway that looks as if someone
    Has cut every blade of grass
    With cuticle scissors and a ruler
    And turns to her caddy, J. Edgar,
    For a club selection…
    Hoover’s fat bulb sweats
    Profusely, disconsolately,
    As his reputation is on the line:
    “You’re a big hitter, Ms. Davis,” he says,
    “But it’s narrow. I’d take the 1-iron.”
    She ponders his suggestion
    Gracefully, with the
    Well-honed skepticism
    Of a true Marxist:
    “No,” she says,
    “Today I will drive the green,”
    A mere 420 yards
    From the tee
    And with a shake of her
    Huge shining afro mane she
    Selects the biggest club in the bag
    A magnificent Black Power Ultra
    With an oak face, brass screws
    And a red fist on the head
    She tees up the ball
    And with a toothy grin
    She glances at the restive gallery
    Now drinking ice-tea with
    A little hip-flask dividend
    To improve the return-on-investment

    The club winds up in
    An extraordinary elliptical arc
    And, poised at the top for an instant
    To increase the dramatic effect
    And then wheeling down on the ball
    Which leaves the clubface like
    Secretariat bolting for the finish
    Like a Ted Williams line drive
    Heading for center field
    Crushing the little white orb
    Like the Red Army
    Crushing the Blitzkrieg
    In Augusta Georgia in 1968
    And up over the fairway,
    the trees
    Even the clouds
    As the gallery falls silent
    In a gaping, painful rapture
    And then the ball bounces onto
    The green not two feet from the pin

    “You got all of that one sister,”
    Says Malcom,
    “Baby, that shot was a moth…”
    “You watch your mouth!”
    She tells Huey fiercely,
    Who looks down sheepishly
    His black beret, turtleneck
    And leather jacket
    Slightly out of place
    In the humid Georgia spring

    “Wow,” says Arnie,
    but uncharacteristically
    His Jay-Mars not quite
    hitting his golf shoes,
    And glancing at his caddie,
    Robert Kennedy,
    Who says in his most
    Irritating, patrician brogue:
    “Well, sirr, I do believe, here,
    That, ah, yes this calls for,
    A firm, and ah, very clear
    Response… but then again,
    Well, ah, that fairway is a
    very narrow
    Entrance into the, ah,
    Theater of operations, and so…”
    “Nevermind,” says Arnie,
    And he reaches into the bag
    For his special
    HonkyTime 3-Wood,
    A fabulous laminated
    Work of art
    A club that has bailed
    Him out of a jam on
    So many occasions before
    And after several practice swings
    Whose aching beauty
    Could define the game forever
    He squares himself to the ball
    Takes a huge cut
    And slices it into the
    Woods on the right
    So far into the woods
    It is not even on the course
    Anymore and is being
    Sniffed at by a raccoon
    On the far side of the rough
    On the 10th hole…
    “Damn,” says Arnie,
    “I hit that too hard…”

    And now
    The long walk to the green
    Is before them
    And Angela walks slowly,
    In a stately manner,
    At a pace befitting a
    Queen of the Nile
    Or an orator from
    Ancient Athens
    With her sassy retinue
    In tow, tossing victory
    Slogans to the snarling
    Crowd and as they near the
    Rise in front of the most famous
    End to the most famous course
    In all of the South,
    A heckler shouts out:
    “What a lucky shot!”

    But the doyenne
    of Communism
    Is unbowed in her
    Generosity of spirit
    as she faces the gallery
    with a radical’s aplomb
    And she removes her putter
    From the bag and studies
    The putt the way she
    Studies Das Kapital
    Or Imperialism, the Highest
    Stage of Capitalism,
    And without further delay
    She strikes it true
    That little white ball
    Into the bottom of the cup
    For an eagle
    An egg salad sandwich
    And the presentation
    Of The Green Jacket

    Published on

    Anthony Robinson

    Anthony Robinson is Director of Beacon Editorial, and Co-Editor of Transformation: A Journal of Literature, Ideas & the Arts. He is Adjunct Professor in Environmental Sustainability at SMU, and is the author of High-Performance Buildings: A Guide for Owners & Managers (Fairmont-Taylor & Francis, 2014), and The Boundary Layer: Poems (Ekstasis Editions, 2011). His writing has been published by: The Dallas Morning News, The Louisiana Review, The Association of Energy Engineers, The American Solar Energy Society, The New Yorker and elsewhere. Angela Davis Plays the Masters is from a new collection, Emergent, to be published in 2020. He enjoys reciting poetry, making things with his hands, sailing on the ocean, fly fishing, drinking good whisky, and laughing at the moon.

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