for Tomica My love is as ancient as my blood. And of course my blood is still mine because a woman, sweetened black with good song, pulled me from the river like an axe pulled back from the bark. I learned love, first, as scar. And of course my love is only mine because I found the nerve to say it is. Ha, My love is mine. But was first my mother’s. Not the how but the why. But was first her mother’s. Not the how but the why. Not the how; Not the how; Not the how; Not the how; Not the how; Not the how. I am bored with this beat. I seek a different dance toward death. Lord, listen up. Lean in: I crave a love that happens as sweetly as it was named. If love must be swung, let it soften. Not split.
For Uncle Paul N’nem
hell nah over my dead—i paid mine. I checked
Black & subtraction knows what it did. made Black
a box to check. subtraction doesn’t know how even
a sigh seasons the roux & the second breath my mother
was always trying to catch. american. emergency.
subtraction doesn’t know Black’s many bodies & body’s
of water. though subtraction does. sunken. gifting the sea’s
new strange stones. subtraction reopened the barbershops &
bowling alleys. insists church. sent us home with inhalers &
half-assed sentences: in god - we - the people - vs - degradation
vs - a new packaged deliverance. homicide. hallelujah.
i’ll be damned. i’ll be back before i’ll be buried. i been Black
& ain’t slept since. subtraction needs my blood to water
their weapons to subtract my blood. do you see the necessity
for dreaming? or else the need to stay awake. to watch. worried.
the hand. invisible. make a peace sign. then a pistol.