Friday, November 30, 2018

Heartbeats by Melvin Dixon

Work out. Ten laps.
Chin ups. Look good.
Steam room. Dress warm.
Call home. Fresh air.
Eat right. Rest well.
Sweetheart. Safe sex.
Sore throat. Long flu.
Hard nodes. Beware.
Test blood. Count cells.
Reds thin. Whites low.
Dress warm. Eat well.
Short breath. Fatigue.
Night sweats. Dry cough.
Loose stools. Weight loss.
Get mad. Fight back.
Call home. Rest well.
Don’t cry. Take charge.
No sex. Eat right.
Call home. Talk slow.
Chin up. No air.
Arms wide. Nodes hard.
Cough dry. Hold on.
Mouth wide. Drink this.
Breathe in. Breathe out.
No air. Breathe in.
Breathe in. No air.
Black out. White rooms.
Head hot. Feet cold.
No work. Eat right.
CAT scan. Chin up.
Breathe in. Breathe out.
No air. No air.
Thin blood. Sore lungs.
Mouth dry. Mind gone.
Six months? Three weeks?
Can’t eat. No air.
Today? Tonight?
It waits. For me.
Sweet heart. Don’t stop.
Breathe in. Breathe out.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

American Sonnet for My Past and Future Assassin [Even the most kindhearted white woman] by Terrance Hayes

American Sonnet for My Past and Future Assassin [Even the most kindhearted white woman]
Even the most kindhearted white woman,
Dragging herself through traffic with her nails
On the wheel & her head in a chamber of black
Modern American music may begin, almost
Carelessly, to breathe n-words. Yes, even the most
Bespectacled hallucination cruising the lanes
Of America may find her tongue curls inward,
Entangling her windpipe, her vents, toes & pedals
When she drives alone. Even the most made up
Layers of persona in a two- or four-door vehicle
Sealed in a fountain of bass & black boys
Chanting n-words may begin to chant inwardly
Softly before she can catch herself. Of course,
After that, what is inward, is absorbed.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

American Sonnet (10) by Wanda Coleman

American Sonnet (10)
our mothers wrung hell and hardtack from row
      and boll. fenced others’
gardens with bones of lovers. embarking
       from Africa in chains
reluctant pilgrims stolen by Jehovah’s light
       planted here the bitter
seed of blight and here eternal torches mark
        the shame of Moloch’s mansions 
built in slavery’s name. our hungered eyes
      do see/refuse the dark
illuminate the blood-soaked steps of each
        historic gain. a yearning
yearning to avenge the raping of the womb
       from which we spring

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Undetectable by Danez Smith

soundless, it crosses a line, quiets into a seed
& then whatever makes a seed. almost like gone
but not gone. the air kept its shape. not antimatter
but the memory of matter. or of it mattering. it doesn’t
cross my mind now that it whispers so soft it’s almost
silence. but it’s not. someone dragged the screaming boy
so deep into the woods he sounds like the trees now.
gone enough. almost never here. daily, swallowed
within a certain window, a pale-green trail on the tongue
the pale-green pill makes before it’s divvied among
the ghettos of blood, dissolves & absolves
my scarlet brand. ritual & proof. surely science
& witchcraft have the same face. my mother
praises god for this & surely it is his face too.
regimen, you are my miracle. this swallowing
my muscular cult. i am not faithful to much.
i am less a genius of worship than i let on.
but the pill, emerald dialect singing the malady
away. not away. far enough. for now.
i am the most important species in my body.
but one dead boy makes the whole forest
a grave. & he’s in there, in me, in the middle
of all that green. you probably thought
he was fruit.

Monday, November 26, 2018

For a Young Turkish Violinist, Drowned on the Aegean Crossing (April 24, 2017) by A. E. Stallings

For a Young Turkish Violinist, Drowned on the Aegean Crossing (April 24, 2017)
Reports said you were found
Clutching the case
Containing your instrument as well
As music of your own composition.
You knew what it was to place
Faith in a hollow wooden vessel,
Carried on waves, lilting in harmonic motion,
Scaled like water running through your fingers.
I think of Arion of Lesbos, and his harp,
Saved by a dolphin in the legend;
Of accidentals, flat and sharp.
Of pitch, and yaw. I think of the deep sound,
Of the bow rolling across arpeggios,
No bridge but the violin’s bridge.