king the color of space/tower of molasses & marrow
I hear music rise off your skin. Each hair on your arm a tiny viola.
A wind full of bows blows & all I hear is the brown
hum of your flesh, a symphony of pigment too often drowned out
by the gun songs & sirens. Don’t listen to that music.
You are the first light in the morning, the dark edge of the sun.
You are too beautiful for bullets. You, long the poster child for metal
wrecked bodies, are too precious for the dirt’s greedy teeth.
You are what was left when the hot, bright stars danced
with the black endlessness around them. You are the scraps
of the beginning, you are not meant to end so soon.
I want to kiss you. Not on your mouth, but on your most
secret scars, your ashy black & journeyed knees,
your ring finger, the trigger finger, those hands
the world fears so much. I am not your enemy,
not poison, not deadly sin, not ocean hungry for blood,
nor trying to trick you. I came from the same red clay,
same ship as you. You are my brother first, my lover
second & never a God. I am sick of people always
calling us Gods. What God do you know that dies this easy?
If I believed in fire, I would think you a thing scorched
& dangerous & glowing. But I no longer believe in embers,
we know you can burn down with no flame for miles.
So thank you. Thank you for not fading to ash & memory.
Your existence is so kind.
141 The Paris-American
Danez Smith is a Cave Canem Fellow, Pushcart Nominee, Survivor & Black Queer from St. Paul, MN. Danez was featured in The Academy of American Poets’ Emerging Poets Series by Patricia Smith & was a finalist for the 2013 RATTLE Poetry Prize. Danez is the author of hands on ya knees, a chapbook published by Penmanship Books. His full-length collection, [insert] Boy, will be published in 2014 by Yes Yes Books. His writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Poetry, Ploughshares, Devil’s Lake, The Cortland Review, Anti-, & elsewhere. Danez started writing because of slams & necessity, & placed 6th in the world at the 2011 Individual World Poetry Slam & is the 2013 Rustbelt Midwest Regional Slam Champion. Danez twerks with the best, has no time for the rest. He writes & lives in Oakland, CA.
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