Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2018  Vol. 17 No. 1
an online journal of literature and the arts
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Ann Arbor
after Pablo Neruda

I am tired of walking around.
I walk into conference rooms & coffee shops
hypothetical, like a winged bull
navigating through a night without light bulbs.

I am tired of my loud mouth & my beard &
my male-pattern baldness & my swollen belly.
The smell of jerk chicken drives me to tears.

All I want is to squat under a guava orchard
& shit out snow-covered sidewalks,
& puke out overcast & gray faces.

I am tired of being a black man.

But it would be delightful
to frighten everyone by ascending
to the sky in a red hoodie,
to warmly smile at the people wiping
their Facebooks with my liver.
It would be marvelous to race down State Street
naked, screaming for holy water
until I die of exhaustion.

I don’t want to go on as a noun,
quivering, receding into obscure offices,
growing mold like a wicker doll
in an out-of-the-way bedroom.

I don’t want to go on as a warehouse
of grief & caged birds. I am the reason
hallways are always burning, when I arrive
with my chapped lips & undersized sweaters.

& they guide me into certain cubicles,
into certain lopsided workshops,
into massage parlors that smell like beeswax,
into houses where strange fruit flies out of windows.

There are ejaculating blackbirds & Jenga blocks
scattered inside the houses that hate me.
There are macabre adjectives regurgitated
into crowded living rooms. There are ears
that should have been horrified.
Unsupervised children—everywhere
claws, everywhere stingers.

I stroll along anxiously, over the uncovered mines.
With regret, with unabridged misery, I trudge
past ice cream parlors & PhDs,
past theaters with marquee codes: SELMA BROOKLYN SPOTLIGHT.  

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