i.m. Scott David Campbell (1982–2012)


Streetlights were our stars,
hanging from the midnight    
                                  in a planetary arc
above each empty ShopRite    
parking lot—spreading     
through the neon dark—
buzzing like ghost locusts,
                                  trembling in the chrome
trance of an electrical charge
nested in each exoskeleton—
                                  pulling, pooling
a single syllable of light
from the long braid      
                                  of the powerlines
sighing above us as we climbed    
through bedroom windows
                                  with our hair combed
and our high-tops carefully untied—
as we clung to vinyl siding,
                                  as we crawled
crablike across rooftops, edging
toe-first toward the gutters
                                  so as not to rouse
the dogs—as we crept down    
onto cold drainpipes     
                                  through the lightning
in our lungs, leaping at last
into our shadows and at last
                                  onto the lawn,
landing as if in genuflection
to the afterhours fog—
as the breath we left
beside us on the train tracks
                                  as we walked
each toward the others,
toward the barebulb
                                  glow of stardust
on the dumpsters
in the vacant late-night, lost

Copyright © 2016 Malachi Black. Used with permission of the author.

drops from upper air,
                                         like rain,
clinging brightly
                                 to the fresh-cut hair
of children
                          and the infantry:
all hail
                 the clicking heel, all will
                 the shrinking light
with grains
                      of wedding rice, of salt,
of sands as fit
                              a last brassy parade:
the marching band
                                      will soften
with its growing-distant
the oscillating hand
                                        will stop
its waving
                     soon enough, soon
                   here now, the motorcade
                gaily through the citizens’
                       and the children’s eyes
bronze faintly
                             with the glint
of far-off fireworks,
                                    or firebombs,
or falling evening stars.

Copyright © 2014 by Malachi Black. Used with permission of the author.

What part of headbanger is pop song
What part of deaf is hearing
What part of hearing is silence
What part of silence is noise
What part of I don’t know is I totally know
What part of I totally know is, I don’t, really
What part of metal is soft
What part of soft is metal
What part of heavy metal is jello
What part of jello is jawbreakers
What part of loss is have
What part of have is loss
What part of the person I was is the person I is
What part of subdued is totally here
What part of totally here is over there
What part again is your crush is the so not like
What part of the so not like is the crush
What part of orange crush is frazzled
What part of frazzle is fizzled
What part of poetix states are mints
What parts of mints are mud
What part of tickets to poetry are roads to nowhere
What parts of roads to nowhere are keys to something
What part of keys to something is the jam of all jams
What part of jams of all jams is the wd-40ed number one lock
What part of Axl Rose is Bennie’s Jets**
What part of Elton is Axl
What part of Rose is weeds
What part of weeds is rose
What part, again is deaf giving way to hear
What part of headbanger is Mariah
What part of headbanger is Whitney )god bless)  ))sic))
What part of headbanger is Anne Murray
What part of headbanger is
                                  Foot  softly
What part of this is that
And as we all know, what part of that is your this.
Thank you.

* After a line in Julian Talamantez Brolaski’s Phonosemantics and the Real
**Axl has said that it was listening to Elton John’s Bennie and the Jets as a young person that made him want to be a singer.

From A Country Road Going Back in Your Direction (Argos Books, 2015). Copyright © 2015 by Stephanie Gray. Used with permission of the author.

The Chinese truck driver
throws the rope
like a lasso, with a practiced flick,

over the load:
where it hovers an instant,
then arcs like a willow

into the waiting,
gloved hand
of his brother.

What does it matter
that, sitting in traffic,
I glanced out the window

and found them that way?
So lean and sleek-muscled
in their sweat-stiffened t-shirts:

offloading the pallets
just so they can load up
again in the morning,

and so on,
and so forth
forever like that—

like Sisyphus
I might tell them
if I spoke Mandarin,

or had a Marlboro to offer,
or thought for a minute
they’d believe it

when I say that I know
how it feels
to break your own

back for a living.
Then again,
what’s the difference?

When every light
for a mile turns
green all at once,

no matter how much
I might like
to keep watching

the older one squint
and blow smoke
through his nose?

Something like sadness,
like joy, like a sudden
love for my life,

and for the body
in which I have lived it,
overtaking me all at once,

as a bus driver honks
and the setting
sun glints, so bright

off a windshield
I wince and look back
and it’s gone.

Copyright © 2015 by Patrick Phillips. Used with permission of the author.

North Charleston, South Carolina, April 4, 2015

Walter Scott must have been a track athlete
before serving his country, having children:

his knees were high, elbows bent
at 90 degrees as his arms pumped
close to his sides, back straight and head up
as each foot landed in front of the other.
Too much majesty in his last strides.

So much depends on instinct, ingrained
legacies and American pastimes.
Relays where everyone on the team wins
remain a dream. Olympic arrogance,
black men chased for sport—
heat after heat
of longstanding, savage races
that always finish the same way.

My guess is Walter Scott ran distances
and sprinted, whatever his life events
required. Years of training and technique
are not forgotten, even at 50. Even after being
tased out of his right mind. Even in peril
the body remembers what it has been
taught, keeping perfect form
during his final dash.

Copyright © 2015 Kamilah Aisha Moon. Originally published in the Winter 2015 issue of Prairie Schooner. Used with permission of Prairie Schooner