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By Ishmael Reed

Being a colored poet

Is like going over

Niagara Falls in a

Barrel

An 8-year-old can do what

You do unaided

The barrel maker doesn’t

Think you can cut it

The gawkers on the bridge

Hope you fall on your

Face

The tourist bus full of

Paying customers broke-down

Just out of Buffalo

Some would rather dig

The postcards than

Catch your act

A mile from the drink

It begins to storm

But what really hurts is

You’re bigger than the

Barrel

ISHMAEL REED will be the recipient of Just Buffalo Literary Center’s Literary Legacy Award in a reception at 6:30 p.m. Friday at the Hotel @ The Lafayette, 391 Washington St. The author of 29 books of fiction, poetry, essays, plays and lyrics, he grew up in Buffalo in the 1940s and 1950s and attended the University at Buffalo. A Pulitzer finalist, two-time National Book Award nominee, MacArthur Foundation Fellow and founder of the Before Columbus Foundation, which promotes multicultural writing in America and presents the American Book Awards, Reed’s most recent books include his 10th novel “Juice!” (Dalkey Archive Press, 2011) and his essay collection “Going Too Far: Essays About America’s Nervous Breakdown” published in 2012 by Canada’s Baraka Press. This poem is from his “New and Collected Poems, 1964-2007” (Da Capo Press).