Spring 1998 • Vol. XX No. 2 Poetry |

Oleo

Between Follies the funniest man alive or dead, emerges—his behind feathered, legs a rooster's—Mama's Little Baby Loves Shortenin Shortenin Mama's Lil Baby Loves Shortnin Bread— come a mighty long way from Walker & Williams' Authentic Coon Revue—Walker the dancing dandy & Wms in cork for Sons of Ham. OLEO. LARD. Hamming it up. Now for Ziegfield Mr. Williams eats alone, not allowed front doors or full billing may bring the house down, but must come in the back— a separate room, nothing personal, mind you, just house rules—where he puts on his face— TRICK BLACK SOAP. In his own light skin, he's no one's idea of funny —plain brown wrapper— but blacked up Uncle Eggs delivers does his olio between the show girls, all ostrich & boas, gloves mortician white, sight gags before curtains these scalped seats.

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Kevin Young is the author of ten books of poetry, most recently Blue Laws: Selected & Uncollected Poems, 1995–2015. His Book of Hours was a finalist for the Kingsley Tufts Prize; his book The Grey Album won the PEN Open Award, the Graywolf Nonfiction Prize, and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award in criticism. This essay has been adapted from Bunk: The Rise of Hoaxes, Humbug, Plagiarists, Phonies, Post-Facts, and Fake News, longlisted for the National Book Award.

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Between Follies the funniest man alive or dead, emerges—his behind feathered, legs a rooster's—Mama's Little Baby Loves Shortenin Shortenin Mama's Lil Baby Loves Shortnin Bread— come a mighty long way […]

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