I could string him back up the tree, if you’d like.
        Return his skin’s meaning to an easy distance, coal dust, blaze
And Willie Brown him. You
        Love how the blood muddies the original,
The way it makes a stage of my speechifying, this leeching
        Capital from his dying,
Like an activist. I know

I’m not supposed to sing

Of his ringing
        Penetrability, some hole I open impose
On the form—but all I see is bullets, bullets discerning him,
        As years ago it was rope.
I could pull it tighter, finger each bullet deeper,
        If you’d like, an inch rougher,
Far enough to where becomes that second heat, erotic.

I could use the erotic,

If you’d like,
        So ungarish, baring not too frank
A mood, subtle so you need it.— Funny
        How some dark will move illicit if you close your eyes,
The way, say, my black
        Pleasure is named too explicit for a page, but this menace
I put in it is not.

I could yank and knot

The rope, if you’d like, him like a strange fragment
        In them trees,
And the word “again” spelled out about his neck
        Would be the rope’s predicate till let wild, patterned and
Fierce his moan.
        It is a tragedy. No. It is a sonnet, how I know
Already how he ends,

But I could make him

Her, if you’d like, regender them till merely
        Canvas for your “empathy,”
Soup for my mouth. Still, if I could but just get
        This blunt,
Burnt lynched body up
        From on
Out the pocket behind my eye

All trees could be themselves again, all sound.

More by Rickey Laurentiis

Epithalamion

        For Nicole and John

     She drew a name full of winning flesh,
Victory, I mean, so that any Yes she has to say
     We might say is a Yes achieved happily all her own—

And he drew a name large as any god,
     Large as a wall in the center of the night, and as calm,
God in the most gracious, the tenderest way.

     To be, like them, in a tenderness now,
Chill as April; to feel ourselves, like themselves,
     In a communion of that sprung blood; and to trust

That in the dark, in even the wild, forbidding dark
     Which by fact must come, is no threat,
No sudden evidence to break and unheat—

     Then we’re complete. Flesh falls away. Gods do.
I will make a man out of you, says one
     To the other. I will make a woman. Isn’t that

What to say I choose you means, means I let go
     The name I held only for myself to step sharply into yours,
Into that bareness each for the other makes,

     Outside the old conceptions, the old laws,
No she, no he—but together you become a single self
     That spans the sense of the imagination,

Wiser than the oldest language, which is love,
     More patient than the deepest song.  

Iris Song

You go outside and the trees don’t know
You’re black. The lilacs will chatter and break
Themselves real bloom, real boon,
No matter your gender. You matter.
Who in you is most material, so
You matter. Your afro gone touch the sky.
Come up from the ground looking extra fly,
Come up from the ground looking extra, fly,
I will touch the sky. I—open my mouth,
And my whole life falls out.

Related Poems

Black Laws

Fuss, fight, and cutting the huckley-buck—Dear Malindy,
Underground, must I always return to the country of the dead,

To the coons catting about in the trees, the North Carolina pines
Chattering about sweetening bodies in their green whirring?

Do these letters predict my death—some sound of a twig
Breaking then a constant drowning—a butter bean drying

Beneath my nails? Casket, rascal, and corn bread cooling board.
Dear Malindy, when the muskrats fight in the swamp I knows

It’s you causing my skull to rattle. You predicted my death
With my own baby teeth and a rancid moon beneath our legs.

No girl, my arm still here. The antlers on the mantle yet quiet.
All the ocean’s water without me and yet in me. Never mind,

Malindy. They already shot the black boy on the road for dying
Without their permission. Yes, gal, I put on my nice suit. And wait.