not an Elegy for Mike Brown by Danez Smith

I am sick of writing this poem
but bring the boy. his new name
his same old body. ordinary, black
dead thing. bring him & we will mourn
until we forget what we are mourning
& isn’t that what being black is about?
not the joy of it, but the feeling
you get when you are looking
at your child, turn your head,
then, poof, no more child.
that feeling. that’s black.
\
think: once, a white girl
was kidnapped & that’s the Trojan war.
later, up the block, Troy got shot
& that was Tuesday. are we not worthy
of a city of ash? of 1000 ships
launched because we are missed?
always, something deserves to be burned.
it’s never the right thing now a days.
I demand a war to bring the dead boy back
no matter what his name is this time.
I at least demand a song. a song will do just fine.
\
look at what the lord has made.
above Missouri, sweet smoke.
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Slip of the Tongue by Adriel Luis

My glares burn through her.
And I’m sure that such actions aren’t foreign to her
because the essence of her beauty is, well, the essence of beauty.

And in the presence of this higher being,
the weakness of my masculinity kicks in,
causing me to personify my wannabe big-baller, shot-caller,
God’s gift to the female species with shiny suit wrapping rapping like,
“Yo, what’s crackin shorty how you livin’ what’s your sign what’s your size I dig your style, yo.”

Now, this girl was no fool.
She gives me a dirty look with the quickness like,
“Boy, you must be stupid.”
so I’m looking at myself,
“Boy, you must be stupid.”
But looking upon her I am kinda feelin’ her style.

So I try again.
But, instead of addressing her properly,
I blurt out one of my fake-ass playalistic lines like,
“Gurl, you must be a traffic ticket cuz you got fine written all over you.”
Now, she’s trying to leave and I’m trying to keep her here.
So at a final attempt, I utter,
“Gurl, what is your ethnic makeup?”

At this point, her glare was scorching through me,
and somehow she manages to make her brown eyes
resemble some kinda brown fire or something,
but there’s no snap or head movement,
no palm to face, click of tongue, middle finger,
roll of eyes, twist of lips, or girl power chant.
She just glares through me with these burning eyes
and her gaze grabs you by the throat.

She says, “Ethnic makeup?”
She says, “First of all, makeup’s just an Anglicized, colonized, commodified utility
that my sisters have been programmed to consume,
forcing them to cover up their natural state
in order to imitate what another sister looks like in her natural state
because people keep telling her
that the other sister’s natural state is more beautiful
than the first sister’s natural state.
At the same time,
the other sister isn’t even in her natural state,
because she’s trying to imitate yet another sister,
so in actuality, the natural state that the first sister’s trying to imitate
wasn’t even natural in the first place.”

Now I’m thinking, “Damn, this girl’s kicking knowledge!”
But, meanwhile, she keeps spitting on it like,
“Fine. I’ll tell you bout my ‘ethnic makeup.’
I wear foundation,
not that powdery stuff,
I wear the foundation laid by my indigenous people.
It’s that foundation that makes it so that past being globalized,
I can still vocalize with confidence that I know where my roots are.
I wear this foundation not upon my face, but within my soul,
and I take this from my ancestors
because I’ll be damned if I’d ever let an American or European corporation
tell me what my foundation
should look like.”

I wear lipstick,
for my lips stick to the ears of men,
so they can experience in surround sound my screams of agony
with each lash of rulers, measuring tape, and scales,
as if my waistline and weight are inversely proportional to my value as a human being.
See my lips, they stick, but not together.
Rather, they flail open with flames to burn down this culture that once kept them shut.
Now, I mess with eye shadow,
but my eyes shadow over this time where you’ve gone at ends to keep me blind.
But you can’t cover my eyes, look into them.
My eyes foreshadow change.
My eyes foreshadow light.
and I’m not into hair dyeing.
but I’m here, dying, because this oppression won’t get out of my hair.
I have these highlights.
They are highlights of my past atrocities,
they form this oppression I can’t wash off.
It tangles around my mind and twists and braids me in layers,
this oppression manifests,
it’s stressing me so that even though I don’t color my hair,
in a couple of years it’ll look like I dyed it gray.
So what’s my ethnic makeup?
I don’t have any.
Because your ethnicity isn’t something you can just make up.
And as for that shit my sisters paint on their faces, that’s not makeup, it’s make-believe.”

I can’t seem to look up at her.
and I’m sure that such actions aren’t foreign to her
because the expression on her face
shows that she knows that my mind is in a trance.

As her footsteps fade, my ego is left in crutches.
And rejection never sounded so sweet.

Beautiful – original poem

You are beautiful

for that scar, a crater on your nose,

that crooked tooth, a shared secret,

in a line of perfect teeth,

for the shades of your eyes,

a perfect high

definition capture

of faraway constellations,

for the swelling star

marked on the shoulder where

my head rests,

for the way your eyes crinkle

and corners of your mouth

fold like double parentheses,

for the way your hair

stands, jumps, laughs, flaps, flies,

stubborn, electrified

and the way you can’t hide

the joy of seeing me.

 

But more than that,

You are beautiful

for the way you kiss my hand,

long and thoughtful,

for the way you waited

days

to say you loved me,

for simply

saying no, you’d rather watch the stars,

for the way you

see, hug, wrap, greet, snuggle up,

kiss me half-conscious

as a part of waking up,

for the five minutes

the half an hour

you have stood

cold, bored, frustrated,

outside my window,

and for the half-forgotten kiss

those smiling eyes

ready, waiting, no matter what,

no matter what,

beautiful,

perfect,

you are

for surprising me

every single day,

 

for never hiding

the joy of seeing me.

On Advertising – a talk with the boss

I’ve recently had a chance to a down-time chat with one of the bosses here. And he’s rejigged a few things in my head.

Here’s a little on advertising.

We are not writing ads.

We are solving problems.

By any means we can think of.

We are changing things.

We are triggering reactions.

We are trying to do something good

for both our clients and our consumers.

And so we can’t just think ads.

We can’t just think press, or TV, or social media.

We have to think big.

Bigger.

We have to think solutions.

And work our way from there.

You say you don’t believe in love.

I guess to believe in something, you must learn the definition of it.

I do not know the definition of love.

But I know the warm glow resonating within my ribcage in old love songs, one verse at a time, tingling my spine. And I know the blush on my cheeks and the tear in my eyes when you make me smile for a little too long. I know the way you finish my sentence and the widening of your eyes when I steal your thoughts straight from the neurons in your brain. Or the way my skin moves in crashing waves at your stroke, or the way my body craves yours at the end of every day, or the way our lips are magnetic and when they collide it seems to never be enough. And I know the security, the self-love, self-worth, self-appreciation that began with you and now end within me.

And since my senses are all I have, I believe in everything glowing, blushing, crawling, aching, seeping, whispering, serenading, exploding within me at every magnificent sight of you.

Best poem I’ve read in a long time

my tongue got stuck to the icicle

when i licked it; and when i

touched the candle flame

my fingers came away red and blistered.

 

this could be a poem about

savage beauty and the danger

inherent in nature.

 

instead it’s about people,

and how they’re always

touching the things that

they shouldn’t.

 

(that girl on the news never invited

that man to touch her.

all i can think about is how

i wish she had had something savage

coursing through her skin.

 

god should have made girls lethal

when he made monsters of men.)

 

(e.h.)