Burden of Proof (MTHRLSSSDGHTR remix)

for Virgilio Rovillos
featuring Jay Electronica, Benny the Butcher, Tennessee Williams, George Costanza,
and Jerry Seinfeld

Exhibit A : Who

Love is dope. It is very, very dope. Pure dope. Uncut dope. In his lifetime, my Lolo has torn
apart too many engines to count, plunged his hands into the dark corners of a million and a
half motors, grease and oil up to his elbows. In his later years, his flawed heart — his engine, one
might say — turned on itself, began to seize and stutter. Foreign man’s heart, fragile little motor.
My brother and I joke, call him “the bionic man,” as if attempting to respect the architect. One
must pay tribute with laughter and dark brown, yet never check the Elohim.

Exhibit B : What

I am guilty of many, many things. I admit that. I stamp that. What I won’t cop to is the rap
sheet of things for which I am guilty. Even that may be a lie, but I willfully give fragments of
my crimes to you, when you listen. Here’s one: I once told a woman that, maybe, hope is love.
Damn. You hear that? Tell me why it’s a crime. Hope is when you’re sitting in a cell facing more
time, but there’s a sliver of light coming in though the bars that says in a gravely voice not
unlike Hank Voight’s, “Finish your breakfast bro, ’cause reasonable doubt is a bird that only
swoops down to feed at nighttime.” Love ain’t shit without a plausible narrative, fragmented or

Exhibit C : When

When down on prison life, I listen to Griselda, think about all the men I could’ve been.
Because I was young in my prison phases and jail cells where I learned decision-making, what I
Iearned of love was all vapor and wave, all distance and game, lockdown and crave. Every fence,
though, was still a fence when the floodlights poured themselves over the empty acres. The
men I was caged with would still run up on you like “W’sup,” still hailed from 6-Mile, 7-Mile,
Gratiot, Hartwell. Someone whispered through the heat vents, “Time is the longest distance
between two places.”
Have you ever felt like a ghost in a nation without graveyards?

Exhibit D: Where

For love, Lolo is a man always waiting. He has held it in his palms and in that red,
reconstructed engine for over fifty years. His wife knows this, laughs and haggles with the
saleswoman. Lolo sits on the bench outside the store, his fingers laced in his lap, gold bracelets
dripping over his corduroys. He is content and shows as much by flashing his chipped tooth as
his wife exits the store. This scene is both soul sample and drill drum-line of everything I know
of half my blood.

Exhibit E : Why

My whole life I’ve never made a good entrance. When I’m feeling wavy, I like to believe that is
one thing Lolo and I have in common. As if he stumbled into this American life full of whiskey
and want. As if that dark origin story my father tried to feed me about Lolo’s American dream
were as true as his foreign heart. In this way, I recant and revise all my lies, I recast all my stories,
chop and screw my replies — by recounting every room I’ve ever entered as a door I’ve kicked in
without fanfare to follow or a kingdom to then call home, or something like it. After I spit
these vandal stories, Lolo laughs, that jagged tooth pointed at the world, and bellows, “Well,
my boy, you’ve made some fine exits.”
As if everything I’ve written here held truth, all of it, every
last word.


what won’t burn when you’ve sown madness?

Dear Body—

The days poured out in a continuous stream, disappearing as though through a sieve.

reverse tongue abecedarian

keep / fertile the jambu groves our fathers freed. let us be more than / echo of river’s ebb.