I think a lot of y’all have just been watching Dr. King get beat
up and, ah
vacillating opportunists straining for a note of
militancy and ah
Hold your great buildings on my tiny wing or in my tiny
palm same thing different sling
and then they shot him and uh left him on the front
lawn of everyone’s vulgar delirium
for having been chosen walking home that night
that’ll show you like candy and love
god openly reverse order
A bird gets along beautifully in the air, but once she is on the
ground that special equipment hampers her a great deal.
And Thereby home never gets to be a jaded
Copyright © 2015 by Harmony Holiday. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on September 22, 2015, by the Academy of American Poets
My son’s head is a fist
rapping against the door of the world.
For now, it’s dressers, kitchen islands,
dining room tables that coax his clumsy, creating
small molehills of hurt breaching
the surface. The ice pack,
a cold kiss to lessen the blow equals
a frigid intrusion, a boy cannot be a boy
with all this mothering getting in the way.
Sometimes the floor plays accomplice
snagging an ankle, elbow, top lip to swell.
Other times it’s a tantrum, when he spills his limbs
onto the hardwood, frenzied then limp with anger,
tongue clotted with frustration,
a splay of 2 year-old emotion voiced in one winding wail.
My son cannot continue this path.
Black boys can’t lose control at 21, 30, even 45.
They don’t get do-overs.
So I let him flail about now,
let him run headfirst into the wall
learn how unyielding perceptions can be.
Bear the bruising now,
before he grows, enters a world
too eager to spill his blood, too blind to how red it is.
Copyright © 2016 by Teri Ellen Cross Davis. “Knuckle Head” originally appeared in North American Review. Reprinted with permission of the author.
And it came to pass, […] there appeared a chariot of fire
and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah
went up by a whirlwind into heaven. And Elisha saw it,
and he cried, My father, my father . . .
—2 Kings 2:11–12
That Sunday in Chehalis, my father testiﬁed
and I watched as he wept before the pulpit,
his shoulders heaving, his hands
clapping up thunder above our heads,
his mouth open on the note of awe as he told us
the promise God had made in the dream:
to bring him Home before he tasted death . . .
to wake him with the scent of flowers, proof
of His presence. I learned to cry like that, as if
I could sprain the heart, the body hurting its way out.
But that morning my mind snuck
back to the nights he took paychecks and split,
sometimes for weeks, his head and body
humming for dope, his wife and kids
suspended by the boundlessness of waiting.
If he returned, if his pockets were empty,
if the locks had been changed, I’d watch
from the window as he jumped and hollered,
wide-eyed and ripping the gate from its hinges or
shattering the windshields of cars along our street
with his ﬁsts—how, as the sirens drew near,
not even God could stop him.
From Revising the Storm (BOA Editions, 2014) by Geffrey Davis. Copyright © 2014 by Geffrey Davis. Used with permission of the author.