Published on Academy of American Poets (

greater love

I slept through the whole thing

Two floors above me
“the brother from Senegal”
on the roof’s edge ready
to trade one kingdom for another,
his long swarthy legs dangling
in the dusk of Anacostia morning

My neighbors said
“his whole body shook”
with weeping—the kind
of grief we have forgotten,
or have become too dignified to show

His wife left him
the night before;
his kingdom had come
& gone

Later that morning
I wanted to ask him if there
is a Wolof word
for the blues
or if there is any music

with notes large enough.


From Blood/Sound (Central Square Press, 2019). Copyright © 2019 by Fred L. Joiner. Used with the permission of the author.


Fred L. Joiner

Fred L. Joiner received an MFA in creative writing from Lesley University. He is the author of BLOOD / SOUND, forthcoming in 2019 from Central Square Press. In 2019, Joiner was named an Academy of American Poets Laureate Fellow. He is the co-founder of The Center for Poetic Thought in Washington, D.C. and currently serves as the poet laureate of the Town of Carrboro, North Carolina.

Date Published: 2019-08-28

Source URL: