It’s Important I Remember that the Moral Arc of the Universe Bends—

but it doesn't break, and neither breaks toward justice
nor away from it. It simply bends, as the bow does
before propelling the arrow where it may, agnostic
to everything but flight. I don't mean to make morality
a weapon in this way, but it already is one and has been
for some time. The shackles, after all, were explained
as saving us from ourselves, our naked savagery,
though it was their whip that licked us and left a kind
of tactile text on our bodies. The Bible will have a man
beating on someone as easily as it will have another
taking one, turning the other cheek, civilly disobedient
even when the bombs blow up in their church, not to say
saying no to violence isn't commendable, just to say
a strong case can be made for cracking a skull or two
like an everyday egg in hopes whatever golden light
resides inside shines through, throughs the crimson tide
for the rest of time so the tide will, mercifully, recede.

"I’m Rooting for Everybody Black"

—Issa Rae

Everybody Black is my hometown team. Everybody Black dropped the hottest album of the year, easy. Everybody Black is in this show, so I’m watching. Everybody Black is in this movie, so I’m watching. Everybody Black wore it better, tell the truth. Everybody Black’s new book was beautiful. How you don’t know about Everybody Black?! Everybody Black mad underrated. Everybody Black remind me of someone I know. I love seeing Everybody Black succeed. I hope Everybody Black get elected. Everybody Black deserves the promotion more than anybody. I want Everybody Black to find somebody special. Everybody Black is good peoples. Everybody Black been through some things. Everybody Black don’t get the credit they’re due. I met Everybody Black once and they were super chill and down-to-earth. I believe in Everybody Black. There’s something about Everybody Black.

Related Poems

Ode to the Happy Negro Hugging the Flag in Robert Colescott’s “George Washington Carver Crossing the Delaware”

I have waited all my life to find me find you
perched around my black neck in repose

songing of me in repose                   	    your black legs         	
songing of me in repose

your black legs a dangle around me      I have waited
to find you find your black toes  to find them

sundering at the base   your black toes your black toe-
nails hale and bright 	   your black feet a straddle around me

around my black waist a straddle I finding I
was born I was born who operated

in the white was born who was born
who operated in the white chapel

who found your black thighs in repose
songing to each other in repose
                                            	           across

my chest      	    an extended black for blocks
a neighborhood song in repose

your crotch an extended black
at my neck   	  your black groin a straddle

around me in repose 	   what life what
there it is there               I had been looked at

there o lord sucked His black
thorax which spanned as a fracture
                                            spanned as I

who grow up in you there as a fracture find
your black breast o lord quiescing

atop my head your other black
breast o lord hale and bright around me o lord

a pendulum o lord to my black ear
my black ear that finds you songing

of me in repose in your stature
toppling to one side of my one side

find your black shoulders a gaping
around me    	death your body armless

around me    	death none can
skirt it in your mother's way o lord

is finding black  fingers there your black
neck is finding          	  lord is rising past

the cumulus-line an extended black
o lord is an extended black o lord

is thinking of self and thinking of self is
finding you there so that when I entered I entered
                                            	           the pulpit I entered.

Revolutionary Letter #2

The value of an individual life a credo they taught us
to instill fear, and inaction, 'you only live once'
a fog on our eyes, we are
endless as the sea, not separate, we die
a million times a day, we are born
a million times, each breath life and death:
get up. put on your shoes, get 
started, someone will finish

//

Tribe
an organism, one flesh, breathing joy as the stars
breathe destiny down on us, get
going, join hands, see to business, thousands of sons
will see to it when you fall, you will grow
a thousand times in the bellies of your sisters

800 Days: Libation

after not wanting to watch “Time: The Kalief Browder Story” on Spike TV

It rained inside me
it is raining inside my neck
the rain falls in sheets inside long sheets inside
all the rain is falling inside collapsing spit
I don’t want to watch another black man die
today or know the story of how he died today
or how he was thrown away or how he ended up
I don’t want to study the rain from inside
the house or overhear wild rain swell & thicken
slap the roof with wet words       & Kalief 
who was there when you stopped
being & who was there when you were alone
& beyond yourself     how
the water around you from the island around you
might have sounded like a chorus    who was there
who was there      who was there  & now everyone
is watching your life from inside but I’m afraid to watch
them beat you    watch torture throbbing dry & long
with ache & blue-black bruising                so I don’t
& another black body is blown out      smoking wick
the lone wisp of a life lingers smelling burnt & gone
how rain wraps round a tornado is a type of sorrow
because no one knows how to fathom damage inside
someone’s eyes could be the weather just after or before
a storm         calm & clear but still bleaker inside the black
parts of the pupils the holes smooth black holes in the eyes
as they left you in the hole with no rain      & I’m emptying
a waterfall shouting                       KALIEF
I want you to be undead & not alone      lonely in the ground  
again     I want I want (the “I” wants so much) how it greeds 
like a fist      of pounding rain on your body bleating broke
but what I want doesn’t matter what I want are rare blossoms
for the dead      because you’re gone & your mother is gone
all because someone said you stole a backpack meaning
your body was made a forgotten altar your body made bodiless
kept pushing back as your trial kept pushing back & back &
black matter moves backwards in time meaning    Kalief matters
in the past tense even though the space around your life didn’t
matter to them   or them   or them    like the space that scatters
& navigates around the circumference of raindrops is never wet
& the braided distance between you & me  is dry & long
like time is rainless with a tight & loaded lungful blowing 800
candles out for the 800 days in solitary your brain behind bars
fades your body in confinement your chest caged alone
your body alone   all    I     hear         is your name falling
& beating    Kalief      Kalief      Kalief Kalief Kalief
this is such a poor offering but I am pouring it on the ground
like good rain & whatever softens the earth is your name
whatever might grow from that darkening bright spot is your name
lapping little lakes of creation turning mud in your name
whatever might be fed from the liquid raining inside me
whatever might be loosened from the muck & the dark
rum pouring from my bottle    & Kalief    your name     is drizzling
a type of grief upon my mouth like mist as it reigns
inside me it is raining inside my body the rain falls in sheets
inside all the rain is untangled & not touching
who touched you with tenderness falling inside   
                                                                                          & Kalief  
what is there to say
after so much rain?

                                  The ground is swollen with your name…