But there never was a black male hysteria
Breaking & entering wearing glee & sadness
And the light grazing my teeth with my lighter
To the night with the flame like a blade cutting
Me slack along the corridors with doors of offices
Orifices vomiting tears & fire with my two tongues
Loose & shooing under a high-top of language
In a layer of mischief so traumatized trauma
Delighted me beneath the tremendous
Stupendous horrendous undiscovered stars
Burning where I didn’t know how to live
My friends were all the wounded people
The black girls who held their own hands
Even the white boys who grew into assassins
Copyright © 2017 by Terrance Hayes. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on November 15, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.
Copyright © 2017 Terrance Hayes. Used with permission of the author. This poem originally appeared in Tin House, Fall 2017.
Any day now you will have the ability to feed the name
Of anyone into an engine & your long lost half brother
As well as whoever else possesses a version of his name
Will appear before your face in bits of pixels & data
Displaying his monikers (like Gitmo for trapping, Bang
Bang for banging, Dopamine for dope or brains),
The country he would most like to visit (Heaven),
His nine & middle finger pointing towards the arms
Of the last trill trees of Bluff Estates & the arms
Of the slim fly girls the color of trees cut down & shaped
Into something a nail penetrates. I admit, right now
Technology is insufficient, but you will find them
Flashing grins & money in the photos they took
Before they were ghosts when you click here tomorrow.
Copyright © 2017 by Terrance Hayes. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on April 25, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.
Oye! This is an apartment building ode.
But not just any ode, an ode about breathing,
walking, jumping, running, skipping people.
An ode to a time where we’d remember what
odes felt like to read outside. An ode about
oding so hard it boxes itself into a sonnet.
Harder than bus stop benches and light rail
seats, taxes, and systemic poverty. The oding
of this poem is an apartment building sonnet
about people stacked up like bricks like words
in a sonnet. People that will tap your shoulder
to make sure you’re listening to the fact that this
poem is a token, a favor, a shirt off their back.
Oye! This is The Apartment Building Ode.
There’s Freestyle, Hip Hop, and Bachata on the steps
depending on the time of day we pick up groceries.
There are bikes by the curb and notebooks on those steps,
soda bottles, 2 quarter juices, and candy wrappers in bags.
There is a 10pm curfew for noise and the music plays
until 9:59, because the stoop DJ wakes up early too.
There are “No loitering on the stairs” signs in every hall-
way though it is understood that what we do isn’t aimless.
There is the smell of food, home-cooked or homemade,
plantains in C5, Hot Pockets in A3 and Chinese in the lobby.
There are lovers, soothsayers, tall-tale tellers, doers, hustlers,
potatoes, flowers, lighters, and so many hand gestures.
This is a concrete box that we call home.
There is a life we’ve learned to love and live.
Copyright © 2022 by Dimitri Reyes. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 18, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.