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Danez Smith

Danez Smith was born in St. Paul, Minnesota, and received an MFA from the University of Michigan. Smith is the author of Homie, (Graywolf Press, 2020), Don’t Call Us Dead (Graywolf Press, 2017), which was short-listed for the National Book Award, and [insert] boy (YesYes Books, 2014), winner of the Kate Tufts Discovery Award and the Lambda Literary Award for Gay Poetry. The recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation, they are also the winner of a Pushcart Prize and co-host the podcast VS alongside Franny Choi. Smith lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

By This Poet

10

juxtaposing the black boy & the bullet

one is hard & the other tried to be

          one is fast & the other was faster

                    one is loud & one is a song
                    with one note & endless rest
          
                     one's whole life is a flash

        both spend their life
        trying to find a warmth to call home

both spark quite the debate,
some folks want to protect them/some think we should just get rid
                                      of the damn things all together.

it won’t be a bullet

becoming a little moon—brightwarm in me one night.
thank god. i can go quietly. the doctor will explain death
& i’ll go practice.
 
in the catalogue of ways to kill a black boy, find me
buried between the pages stuck together
with red stick. ironic, predictable. look at me.
 
i’m not the kind of black man who dies on the news.
i’m the kind who grows thinner & thinner & thinner
until light outweighs us, & we become it, family
gathered around my barely body telling me to go
toward myself.
 

a note on the body

your body still your body
your arms still wing
your mouth still a gun
 
          you tragic, misfiring bird
 
you have all you need to be a hero
don’t save the world, save yourself
 
you worship too much & you worship too much
 
when prayer doesn’t work:      dance, fly, fire
 
this is your hardest scene
when you think the whole sad thing might end
 
but you live      oh, you live
 
everyday you wake you raise the dead
 
          everything you do is a miracle