'As Though It Was Meant to Happen'

This is Cornelius Eady's lovely reimagining of the old Leadbelly song, in which Jack Johnson is refused a ticket on the Titanic:

Jack Johnson Does The Eagle Rock

Perhaps he left the newspaper stand that morning
         dazed, a few pennies lighter,
The illustration of the crippled ocean liner
       with the berth he had the money
But not the skin to buy
Engraving itself
On that portion of the mind reserved for
       lucky breaks.
Perhaps the newsboy, a figure too small to
       bring back,
Actually heard his laugh,
As the S.S. Titanic, sans one prize fighter,
Goes down again all over New York,
Watched his body dance
As his arms lift the ship, now a simple millimeter thick,
       above his head
In the bustling air, lift it up
As though it was meant to happen,

For the literal-minded, there's no evidence that Jack Johnson was refused a ticket. I hate having to add that, but comedy and poetry posts seem to attract the world's most narrow- and literal-minded people. The poem is from Eady's great book, Victims of the Latest Dance Craze.
Presented by

Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle.

The Blacksmith: A Short Film About Art Forged From Metal

"I'm exploiting the maximum of what you can ask a piece of metal to do."

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Riding Unicycles in a Cave

"If you fall down and break your leg, there's no way out."

Video

Carrot: A Pitch-Perfect Satire of Tech

"It's not just a vegetable. It's what a vegetable should be."

Video

An Ingenious 360-Degree Time-Lapse

Watch the world become a cartoonishly small playground

Video

The Benefits of Living Alone on a Mountain

"You really have to love solitary time by yourself."

Video

The Rise of the Cat Tattoo

How a Brooklyn tattoo artist popularized the "cattoo"

More in Entertainment

From This Author

Just In