Published on Academy of American Poets (https://poets.org)


what the dead know by heart

lately, when asked how are you, i
respond with a name no longer living

Rekia, Jamar, Sandra

i am alive by luck at this point. i wonder
often: if the gun that will unmake me
is yet made, what white birth

will bury me, how many bullets, like a
flock of blue jays, will come carry my black
to its final bed, which photo will be used

to water down my blood. today i did
not die and there is no god or law to
thank. the bullet missed my head

and landed in another. today, i passed
a mirror and did not see a body, instead
a suggestion, a debate, a blank

post-it note there looking back. i
haven't enough room to both rage and
weep. i go to cry and each tear turns

to steam. I say I matter and a ghost
white hand appears over my mouth

Credit


"what the dead know by heart" by Donte Collins. Copyright © 2016 by Donte Collins. Used with permission of the author.

Author


Donte Collins

Donte Collins received the 2016 Aliki Perroti and Seth Frank Most Promising Young Poet Award for his poem “what the dead know by heart.”

Date Published: 2016-10-01

Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/what-dead-know-heart-0