Will the new aunt Jemima have dreads?
Why did Susan Smith kill her children and blame a black man?
Would a black man hang himself from a tree with his backpack still on?
Is it justice or revenge we are seeking?
What does justice look like?
What else can I do to feel safe?
Several times a day I stab my fingertips to threads
Looking for something more than blood as a reminder of life
An angry rain whips the window
We lay quiet in bed
Invite Kimiko Hahn to serenade us with her new poems
When she's done   my lover says
Give me something   something to munch on
I offer her my wrist.

Copyright © 2020 by Cheryl Boyce-Taylor. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on July 27, 2020, by the Academy of American Poets.

I am nearly positive there are no other
Langston Kermans on this smoking earth.
Certainly not in this neighborhood.

How frightening to think
there might be another
who appropriates the prescription for my abscess,

who claims my lost packages,
who watches anime and sucks
juice between his teeth, the same as me.

I am 32 years old
and I have never known anyone’s
heart attacks in the morning shower.

No monoxide pumped into a closed garage.
No true loss.
Even my first dog lived to 17:

She died quietly on a metal table,
the family encircling her
like a fleshy halo.

Dearest “other” Langston,
how many eggs have you cracked
to find the yolk pecked with blood?

Copyright © Langston Kerman. This poem originally appeared in Respect the Mic: Celebrating 20 Years of Poetry from a Chicagoland High School (Penguin, 2022). Used with permission of the author.