You’re Coming With Me

Today the sky is melancholy Langston, graying,
the city is a salt flood, yesterday Chris was
black ink drying into a gravel lot, four bullets
exhausted in his back was the dream deferred,

age fifteen is two years short of a haiku, his eulogy
a rushed poem. The youth in defiance of this
violence is a kaleidoscope of names that challenge
the tongue, names as wild a vivid as the wings

of monarchs. The block is the trap, the trap is a rowdy
biology class, the lesson is taxidermy, but the names are
too watercolor to be stretched behind some glass, flutter
so erratic they’re difficult to jar, to deny new air,

to dissect. Today the city is an atrium filling,
the collective sound of tire against salt-drenched
tar is identical to a thousand butterflies hovering, here fireflies
dirtborne, the word itself translates into midnight arson,

a group of strangers willing to pull a sleeping
family from its hell mouth is called a dante’, the right
Dilla joint bombed into the right crowd at the right time
climax. Today the city is smolder and fever sweat,

the city cut someone’s water over $5.25 & so
we brought the brimstone, sulfured the entrance
of some droughtfuck company till we became a rain
dance, we kingdom come for your neck, this guillotine

I come from, this wolf’s grin that doesn’t abstract well
where the words got to rock your jaw & draw blood,
got to crack the ribs like a steering column & hotwire
the idle body felonious.

Today we don’t write the poems, we are the poems,
our skin—paper, our scars—verses, body of unclean edits,
poetry galvanized into cocked shoulders & sharp
eyes like automotive steel

through proud assembly line palms, we break ourselves
down just to handcraft our own resurrection like life
is some kind of shattered engine block, & your hood
is your make, & your street is your model,

so when we ask where you from, we’re really asking how
are you built, & can tell everything by how you answer,
and know a friend who can tell you how to fix that
rattle, that leak, that drag, that untimely dying.

Today we don’t write the poems, we are the 700,000-
word lyric in a book built for a million, so dirty
limerick, so pantoum for the word god damn, sonnet sung
so beautiful by the northern wind it’ll pull a tear

from the corner of your eye, steal the storm right out
of your lungs, numb each hand into half a soul, split your lip,
tie your tongue around that dirty French & make you
say home.


What is the name of the violence they have learned?
What kind of love have they learned?
Why is it so terrifying when we love ourselves?


“soon, i’ll molt this blackness, let / it cipher into the waves.”