KYLA MARSHELL

We’ll Always Have N├ęgritude

won’t we? he asks, reaching for my tiny brown
hand. when credits roll in black & white,
& FIN flashes bright across the final frame,
we’ll still be black as vice—won’t we?
he wants to know what happens
to The Last Black Man on Earth
in The Last Black Man on Earth without waiting
for the tentative sequel, after we applaud & lights
come up & someone nameless sweeps our popcorn kernels
into a vortex-shaped box. is that where
The Last Black Man on Earth goes after we’ve
learned no animals were harmed in the making
of this production? does he fade into the white
light of Colored Heaven (which is a real place),
or fall to a fate worse than death—Vermont?
don’t worry, i say to my panicked date,
his hands atremble. The Last Black Man on Earth
finds his way home through the overturned cars
and fallen trees. the sun begins again, & so does he.

2
even if, in 2079, The Race is completely diluted,
& everyone looks like a modern-day mock-up
of Jesus, & “What’s happening, CC?” means
“Caucasoid Contingent,” & no one can remember
the Good Ole Days of dogs & hoses, marching on,
the South Bronx, Barack, Michelle, greens, red drink,
the electric slide, or the obtuse angle bodies made when raising
an arm, crowned with dark fist, we will still have our hair.
crinkle, crinkle little star. the kinks stay in at night.
you can take the people out of Africa.
you can lead a girl to lye. even if all our sky is red
smoke & dark rain & a volcanic heat signaling the end,
this fiber will fight on, will ivy the walls of our
tissue paper planet, the one we came to own, learned
to destroy. my locs will be the chain-link fence keeping
out those aliens, & your afro will be the cumulus clouds
cottoning the sky, the unpicked cotton sky. i’ll climb
a two-strand through the gauzy ozone. you’ll trace
your way into this cornrowed maze.  end