Sisyphus Walks Downhill.
Article Type: Poem
Author: Lewis, Rudolph
Pub Date: 11/01/2010
Publication: Name: Journal of Pan African Studies Publisher: Journal of Pan African Studies Audience: Academic Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Social sciences Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2010 Journal of Pan African Studies ISSN: 0888-6601
Issue: Date: Nov, 2010 Source Volume: 4 Source Issue: 1
Accession Number: 306754376
Full Text: 24 February 2006

Rudolph Lewis (born 1948 in Baltimore, Maryland) was raised by his grandparents William and Ella Lewis of Jarratt, Virginia in the Village of Jerusalem. He attended Creath, No. 5 (a one-room, one-teacher school) and later graduated from the all-black Central High (Sussex). In 1965 he left home to attend Morgan State College. After hearing in 1967 Stokely Carmichael, Walter Lively, and Bob Moore speak in 1967 on Black responsibility and leadership, he left Morgan "to join the revolution."

He spent several years (beginning 1969) as an organizer for Local 1199 (Health Care Workers Union), married in 1972 to Evelyn Duncan, and divorced her in 1976. Resigning from 1199 in 1974, he worked a number of temporary jobs, including taxi driver, coal analyst, porter and pot-washer at Maryland General Hospital.

He graduated with a B.A (1978) and M.A. (1981) degrees in English from the University of Maryland, College Park. After graduation, he taught writing and literature as an adjunct professor at University of the District of Columbia and the University of Maryland. In 1982, he spent ten weeks with the Peace Corps in Zaire.

From 1991-1997, Lewis taught writing and other subjects in several adult education programs. During this period he spent a year in Morgan State's doctoral program in education (1991-1992), and completed from 1994-1997 a master's program in library science. From 1997-1999, he worked as a librarian for Enoch Pratt Free Library. After the publication of his edited volume of I Am New Orleans & Other Poems by Marcus B. Christian, Lewis again returned to the Village of Jerusalem where he collected the letters and stories of his grandmother Ella Lewis.

In November 2001, along with Kinya Kionygozi, he founded the website ChickenBones: A Journal (, which he continues to edit and which has become one of the most popular African-American websites on the internet, receiving over a half-million visitors in 2003 and expect over two million in 2010.

His poems have been published in Black Magnolias: A Literary Journal (2009), the anthology Let Loose on the World: Celebrating Amiri Baraka at 75 (2009). His 1985 interview was published in Conversations with Yusef Komunyakaa (2010), edited by Shirley A. James Hanshaw. In October 2009 he married Yvonne Willis and now lives in Finksburg, Maryland. He can be contacted at
Sisyphus Walks Downhill

--for Albert Camus

   It's always like the sun--the coming
   & going at Pennsylvania & North

   Cops & ambulances rush screaming
   to their emergencies. Workers, men

   & women, board & step down from
   buses and trains as they go to and leave

   daily their assigned drivers--these are
   the blessed ones. On the sidelines their

   shadows without chains chant, "Loose
   ones!" These are the creepers, 35-plus.

   Toothless on my right might have been
   an A-RAB if he had a pony & a wagon.

   With a few caps in his pocket he paces,
   reflects, "You can't make no money in

   the joint." He bums a smoke. It's me
   in their absurd mirror walking uphill.
Gale Copyright: Copyright 2010 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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