Tell me I once came close, that your body wasn’t an obelisk, and mine, so much wire wound around wire. I will always wonder
if I can take you, know you will always be stronger, and marvel at how you appear even larger than before with my niece cupped
in your tattooed arms. I know something simple provokes you to call: a comic book we’ve both read, a good time
to visit, but my thumb hovers over decline and I hold my breath before I press against the waiting answer.
Before I left for Florida—a week after I tore the collar of my shirt, twisting out of your grip, a week after
I disappeared with our shared car, the Venture minivan we nicknamed Vendetta, and brought it back to you
empty and smashed—you stopped me to tell me to never come back. You meant it. I said I wouldn’t. I meant flinching
is something I’d only do in oncoming light, never the overcoat of a shadow; being the size of a threat did strange things to my tongue.
Tell me about the night I hurled a phone receiver at your head and the orb of blood on your lip that seemed like it’d never fall, how you
bound me by a wrist, bruised my ribs against the floor, and never threw a single punch. Wasn’t that a kind of gentleness, Jabari?
80 The Paris-American
Detroiter Jamaal May is the author of Hum (Alice James Books, 2013), winner of the Beatrice Hawley Award. His poems appear widely with the most recent work found in Poetry, The Believer, Ploughshares, New England Review, and Kenyon Review. Jamaal has received fellowships and scholarships from Bread Loaf Writers Conference, Cave Canem, Callaloo Workshop, and Bucknell University where he was named the 2011-2013 Stadler Fellow. He currently acts as series editor, graphic designer, and web manager for the Organic Weapon Arts Chapbook Press. His Hum Digital Shorts video series can be found on Youtube.