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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

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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.