after Morgan Parker, after Wu-Tang
in the morning I think about money
green horned lord of my waking
forest in which I stumbled toward no salvation
prison made of emerald & pennies
in my wallet I keep anxiety & a condom
I used to sell my body but now my blood spoiled
All my favorite songs tell me to get money
I’d rob a bank but I’m a poet
I’m so broke I’m a genius
If I was white, I’d take pictures of other pictures & sell them
I come from sharecroppers who come from slaves who do not come from kings
sometimes I pay the weed man before I pay the light bill
sometimes is a synonym for often
I just want a grant or a fellowship or a rich white husband & I’ll be straight
I feel most colored when I’m looking at my bank account
I feel most colored when I scream ball so hard motherfuckas wanna find me
I spent one summer stealing from ragstock
If I went to jail I’d live rent-free but there is no way to avoid making white people richer
A prison is a plantation made of stone & steel
Being locked up for selling drugs = Being locked up for trying to eat
a bald fade cost 20 bones now a days
what’s a blacker tax than blackness?
what cost more than being American and poor?
here is where I say reparations.
here is where I say got 20 bucks I can borrow?
student loans are like slavery but not but with vacation days but not but police
I don’t know what it says about me when white institutions give me money
how much is the power ball this week?
I’mma print my own money and be my own god and live forever in a green frame
my grandmamma is great at saving money
before my grandfather passed he showed me where he hid his money & his gun
my aunt can’t hold on to a dollar, a job, her brain
I love how easy it is to be bad with money
don’t ask me about my taxes
the b in debt is a silent black boy trapped
Copyright © 2017 by Danez Smith. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on February 1, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.
About this Poem
“Looking to Morgan Parker’s work always helps me figure out my way through the work and the world. Her poem ‘All They Want Is My Money My Pussy My Blood’ is one of the best poems I’ve ever read, and thinking about her lines and play and boldness in that poem helped guide me through thinking about money, something that usually makes me itchy, nauseous, and cranky.”
Danez Smith is the author of Don’t Call Us Dead (Graywolf Press, 2017) and [insert] boy (YesYes Books, 2014).
Date Published: 2017-02-01
Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/cream