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  • Christine Delea

April 25: Mr. T

The wonderful poem below by Terrance Hayes does a few things I have already mentioned in prompts, such as mixing cultures and using an icon to make a point about American society. And you are welcome to delve into those prompts again today.


However, what you should focus on in the poem draft you write today is something else found in this poem. Actually, a few other somethings. Choose one or more to put into your own poem.


Try one or more:

Title has a dash

Last line ends with a dash

Reference to Mr.T's TV character in the A-Team without signifying it as a character

14 lines (like a sonnet)

A question that shifts focus from the title person onto the "I" of the poem

Asking what a role model can teach

Ending a poem without end punctuation, but still using punctuation



Mr. T—

by Terrance Hayes


A man made of scrap muscle & the steam

engine's imagination, white feathers

flapping in each lobe for the skull's migration,

should the need arise. Sometimes drugged

& duffled (by white men) in a cockpit

bound for the next adventure. And liable

to crush a fool's face like newsprint; headlines

of Hollywood blood and wincing. Half Step 'N Fetchit,

half John Henry. What were we, the skinny B-boys,

to learn from him? How to hulk through Chicago

in a hedgerow afro, an ox-grunt kicking dust

behind the teeth; those eighteen glimmering

gold chains around the throat of pity,

that fat hollow medallion like the sun on a leash—

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