UPON Grief and Grievance: Art and Mourning in America, New Museum, New York, 2021. / DOUBLE SONNET after A.J., C.S.D., C.G., J.B., D.R., P.C., M.B., K.G., K.W., M.E., K.B., E.G., M.D. & R.S.

- 1970-
for Okwui Enwezor

Firehose blast pummels. Torqued silhouettes.
Teach me how to Dougie…We don’t succumb.
Everything that stood in their way…ruthless
destruction…for which tool brazen Diamond

hammers back against murder. Article:
Philando’s fiancé booked. Our assault
maps. Bradford’s built paper, string tactical 
veins pulse in black crumples. Forearms—Baller

K.G. (Celtics) seizes, spits. Gouache, white ink,
magenta mouth-stung light. Walker: We tried… 
Not venom, neurotoxins. Vomit pink—
Is it? Our exhaustion translates: We tried…

Bubble hoodie. Helmet-to-weave, No Rem,
M.E., welded steel: Lynch Fragments for them.   

Art mines, solders, bleeds. Angles as expect
orate to its hyphae. Roots—in Hyper 
cardioid and contact—mics—Dew, Pigment.  
Beasley and Gallagher sinew lines, curve 

sensorium as polyurethane  
query: optic vertebrate, lexicon. 
Translucent human-gut spores. Body planes
used in the hi order for…your drill…Drum

Bits…/ntial…ad…FREE WORKSHOP will…i
of America…now…PUT YOUR HANDS UP 
AGAINST THE WALL! The building is on Fiiyy
yAAHH…got my 3 kids, and we bounced…Smoke rup

tures Alien’s proboscis…They don’ know 
They don’ know…Pixels—blues, violet shadows.

Post-Dissertation-Intervention (i.)

I always tell my dancers. You are not defined by your fingertips, or the top of your head, or the 
bottom of your feet. You are defined by you. You are the expanse. You are the infinity. 

—Judith Jameson

Elizabeth Alexander in The Black Interior writes about beauty, and how black artists 
resist monstrousness by their own self-definitions.  

I’m interested in this repair, too, but find comfort in the ugly.  I love monsters.
We both consider Brooks.  In the poem, “The Life of Lincoln West,” when Elizabeth 

hones in on two white men describing little, black Lincoln, specie, I zip to the poem’s 
end, to what I read as Lincoln’s release: “it comforts him to be the real thing.” 

I align after June Jordan, whom am I when pinched, patted, and bent?
Get behind her defense of Black English in On Call: How can I be who I am?

We do with what’s given.  I suppose, I may not share viewpoints, but still, 
I connect.  Of prose, Meena Alexander says she uses it to clear the underbrush 

to make space for the poem.  Vacate fields, ropes, a body.  Don’t hate on Elizabeth. 
Do you.  Frame how she pairs Brooks with Lawrence and Bearden.  

To argue, she opens walls, and living rooms.  So, you like death?  Is your project 
Fanon’s?  Is this all a setup?  Fan  – on – it was a jolt in perception, then.

Pieces of this, repeat.  Toni Morrison, where she writes: the remains of what were left
behind to reconstruct the world these remains imply.

Ties to Brooks’s litany of the black body that endures, a stream of violent verbs
to enter, under buzz and rows of halogen: burned, bricked, roped to trees, and bound.

Now, what contexts shift in the stacks that glare before you?  And how do you return,
after, to what seized Brooks at Fisk, standing to face all those Blacks?  

71. Realizing Lucy

At the top of the hill, before the light gives way to the pine
     that fractures across the sky,
and the farmhouse, opens its door to shadow, there is a

It is not the dead bird, lying out flat and face down in the
     middle of the street, its brown
belly on the pavement, cooled by the wind.

It is not in my chest, which opens up into sections as I
     breathe in the air that almost
shocks me into falling face down as I climb the hill.

It is not the breath. It is not the sky, which I haven’t looked
     at, staring up at the
mountains, which spreads down through the range up the

It is not my knee, which seems at any moment will collapse
     into if nothing else,
the breaking beneath my legs, the final moment I push up,
     towards the end of the light.

There are shadows which cover the sign: SUN, painted in
     blue at the peak of the hill.
So, where, today, will I direct my anger?

Where will I turn, running past the women, who hover up
     the road, no cars,
crawling into their beers in the middle of the day?

Fat and White. I refuse to grow any fatter, or to not tan.     
     This summer,
I burn off another self, sprinting up the high hill of my own

burning Kcals toward the peak of my own release. In this
     face, “What a view?”—
someone asking another. Was I supposed to seek
     something else into which to slip?



Grind me Nautica, Vic Tayback.
Line chef para Alice arm hair,
fore-sausage & anchor tat,
snatch, a silvered chest, V-
neck, sleep hard Weezy—

As in how do you do that?
Glimpse, a tad, pecking
the surface glaze, or Dove
Men+Care. iNot be puppy breath,
tan streak down the cheek, scar,
or Bowie’s bass: VANILLA ICE 

tricks a pompadour. Jim Carrey
a detour, when slips the tongue.
Airborne pellet in seltzer fizz. ED— 
father had a junk business...barrels 
of jimmied pistols...they wouldn’t fire 
...but they were good for kids.

Related Poems

Drawing from Life

Look: I am building absence
out of this room's air, I'm reading suppositions into
summer's script snarled on a varnished floor.
It looks like a man. That knot's his hand
waving good-bye, that stippled stripe of grain's
the stacked-up vertebrae of his turned back.
Small birds (sparrows or finches, or perhaps)
are cluttering the trees with blackened ornaments (burning
in the remnant light of August eight o'clock), and noises
I can't hear. Chirring there, chittering. The window's closed.

I am assembling a lack of sound
in this locked box, and dotting all the i's
these floating motes present (my composition), I am not lonely
for the palpable world (midges I dap hands for
and kill), shivering into darkness underwater outside glass:
what's left of light sinking from zero down to less,
cobalt down to zaffer, deeper to purple-black
where divers drown. The swimming landscape's
all mistake (one world that shuts air into
my submerged terrarium), and I am luck.


I like literature that makes me think: 
        	Banana Republic, Victoria’s Secret, Forever 21,
A constant reference to the things that I’m supposed to want, but ironically, but effectively, like a commercial that employs racial stereotypes but still makes me want to go to that restaurant to scoop the vestiges of salad on my plate with a piece of bread.  Before I moved, I was obsessed with the mall. I wanted to spray myself with scents and wear overpriced loungewear as a nihilistic act. 
I like Instagram posts that make me think:
        	Crystals, juice, my psychic,
These collective practices of the personal. I can feel my heart is a gravitational force, and my head bonded only by mystical means. One end attracts, the other repulses.  Some of my friends live in the neighborhood, some live in the woods. We talk about how to combat gentrification and what to do if you see a ghost. 
I like Twitter posts that make me think:
        	Meaningless, prescription drugs, inadequacy.  
I felt resistant to aimless positivity for a long time. I wanted to be a soulless yoga bitch with blacked out eyes doing drugs on a pontoon, a perfect body filled with destruction. I wanted to create a cult to my body, but most jobs think its cute to show gratitude with carbs and Seroquel gives me the munchies.
I like life experiences that make me think:
        	Fish tank, trees, justice, we made it, aliens, secret society, perfect feed, torrent download, hair and makeup, freak paradise, small objects on a window sill, sweet flea market find, alternative section, slow motion suburban intro with darkwave soundtrack, oasis in the ghetto with organic snacks, etc.

Still Waiting

for Alison Saar

Please approach with care these figures in black.
Regard with care the weight they bear,
                      the scars that mark their hearts.
Do you think you can handle these bodies of graphite & coal dust?
This color might rub off. A drop of this red liquid
                      could stain your skin.
This black powder could blow you sky high.
No ordinary pigments blacken our blues.
Would you mop the floor with this bucket of blood?
Would you rinse your soiled laundry in this basin of tears?
Would you suckle hot milk from this cracked vessel?
Would you be baptized in this fountain of funky sweat?
Please approach with care
                      these bodies still waiting to be touched.
We invite you to come closer.
We permit you to touch & be touched.
We hope you will engage with care.