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DANCE

A humble tongue never
got our people anywhere

but the back and get back. When
the moon walks, I see limbs: darker and

bedazzled. In the burnt test of heat before hello, I come
to know that there must be something holy

in the shade, especially
when the Earth just can’t stop

making it. Now, I'm not sure
of much when my people still see sexy

as a barefoot frolicking with the unmute of brown. Blur
a signature into sand after we call God

with our knees. Here, we tire from the heat
and where the desert takes us, and get, and get back

and dance, too. We dance so much that we did not
need the slacks, and so I stopped wearing them

around the women I didn't want to think
I was just some captured gaggle of limbs. So they let me dance

with them. And they sang, and
I only ever really remembered scripture

like a tear, a thing that leaves you after
you've already belted hurt, and finished

the bleed of the night. But whether she knows or not, the sun
takes me often, calmly pries the half-woken glimmer out

of the sand and the sandy-skinned— those with knees
pressed into the dimpled spine of the desert until the world knows

we are here.  Always been. And we know it, so why hide
in a mouth the sun doesn’t love—

everybody else does. And me and my brothers stay
wondering if God really needs a humble

sacrifice: this blood still tastes the same to me.
Always did.

 

 

This poem first appeared in Winter Tangerine on July 1st, 2016. It was a finalist in their 2016 Winter Tangerine Awards. To view the poem as it originally appeared, visit the publication here.

 

WHISP

there are two ways to become
a man: kill one, or watch
enough boys that look like you
 
 
go.

 

 

This poem first appeared in The Offing Literary Magazine on June 29th, 2016. To view the poem as it originally appeared, visit the publication here.

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MUSEUMS

Time is the greatest gift
one can ever offer, because it is
the only thing we cannot

take back. It is the same
reason I will not go
to war for a country

I cannot belong to.
I cannot be well-
versed in fast enough to

beckon the tongue to give.
& give lip— all split
and dry with new

breath in the morning. 
All I can offer
the land of my parents

is the promise

that its proper name will not be lost
on me. The curse of the diaspora is to
become a scholar: 
                    an urn for all
the instances their hands
were too small
for anything less
                    than ash.

Is there a word for it? That
sensation of inner lung
being coated by the dust

of another man’s wake. 
I might as well read:
palestine, phulisteen,
a severed realm

of artifacts, a museum
filled with too much
                         echo.

 

 

This poem first appeared in Voicemail Poems on April 8th, 2016. To view the poem as it originally appeared, visit the publication here.

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NEW RULE

*reference: dark like dirt but not like dirt

          when
          you are going to kill
          a person, you must first
          ^[black/brown]*         learn our names,
look us     in the eyes            & say them aloud.
                                  no more
                                  learning
our names after

                                  we're dead

 

 

This poem first appeared in The Offing Literary Magazine on May 20th, 2015. To view the poem as it originally appeared, visit the publication here.

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