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Rasheed Copeland

Rasheed Copeland is the author of The Book of Silence: Manhood As a Pseudoscience (Sergeant Press, 2015). A multiple recipient of the DC Commission of the Arts and Humanities Fellowship Award, he is a native of Washington, D.C.

By This Poet

2

to be considered before inviting everyone to The Cookout™

the gone did not go so that we’d endure
plucking grapes from the potato salad
we did not stretch Frankie Beverly’s voice
like a tent across this humble meadow
of amber folk sipping gold sun through skin
rejoicing over their continued breath
just for you to invite anyone in
able to pause the bloody legacy
and distract your eyes with a flimsy act
you break all the unwritten covenants
forged in the saved language of unmarked graves
those called to eat are those who starved with us
and not those whose mouths still water
when watching the grill’s flame lick Uncle’s arm

When Puffy says, and we won’ t stop, 'cause we can’ t stop.

I think of a good night’s sleep
an exhale taking its precious time

to leave my lungs         unworried
about the breathing to come       If only

I did not hail from the sweet state
of panic                               the town’s river,

my adrenaline raging without cease
I’d love peace but the moon is pulling me by my water

I know this is no way to live     but I was born here
a mobile of vultures orbiting above my crib

the noise you speak      bragging
about the luxury of your stillness

reminds me that some children are told to pick flowers
while others are told to pick a tree switch

that’ll best write a lesson across their hide
and my skin is a master course written in welts

I touch myself and read about the years
I cannot escape                              I hold my kids

and pray our embrace is not a history
repeating itself