American Sonnet for My Past and Future Assassin [But there never was a black male hysteria]

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.

About this Poem

“Prime thanks to poet Anthony Butts who, many years ago, told me he was writing a book called Male Hysteria. Unforgettable title. Maybe I’m not remembering it correctly. This sonnet is one lanky sentence and several clanging fragments. It’s both dream and memory; ode to high-tops, criminal elegy, testimony, fantasy. It’s crystal clear to me and totally hazy.”
Terrance Hayes