Let's roll with some poetry. Ladies and gentlemen, I present one of the great love poems of our time--the incomparable "As You Leave Me," by the great Etheridge Knight:

Shiny record albums scattered over
the living room floor, reflecting light
from the lamp, sharp reflections that hurt
my eyes as I watch you, squatting among the platters,
the beer foam making mustaches on your lips.

And, too,
the shadows on your cheeks from your long lashes
fascinate me--almost as much as the dimples
in your cheeks, your arms and your legs.

You
hum along with Mathis--how you love Mathis!
with his burnished hair and quicksilver voice that dances
among the stars and whirls through canyons
like windblown snow, sometimes I think that Mathis
could take you from me if you could be complete
without me. I glance at my watch. It is now time.

You rise,
silently, and to the bedroom and the paint;
on the lips red, on the eyes black,
and I lean in the doorway and smoke, and see you
grow old before my eyes, and smoke, why do you
chatter while you dress? and smile when you grab
your large leather purse? don't you know that when you leave me
I walk to the window and watch you? and light
a reefer as I watch you? and I die as I watch you
disappear in the dark streets
to whistle and smile at the johns

Don't know if you poetry-heads get into Etheridge Knight. He has the coolest name ever--it just sounds like a poet's name. Or an MC's for that matter. When I was at Howard, he had a huge fan base among those of us who were into such things. I actually never got into him too heavy. But this piece--especially the whole "and I die as I watch you" riff--is butter. I don't want to prejudice anybody. We can do critique and stuff in comments. Heh, all five of us.

   

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters@theatlantic.com.