Friday, August 15, 2014

Poem of the Week: Danez Smith

not an elegy for Mike Brown

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.

Used by permission.

Photo by: Travis Chanter

Danez Smith is the author of the collection [insert] Boy (forthcoming, YesYes Books) & the chapbook hands on ya knees (Penmanship books, 2013). Danez is a 2014 Ruth Lilly & Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellowship Finalist. Danez is the recipient of fellowships from the McKnight Foundation, Cave Canem, VONA, & elsewhere. He is a founding member of the multi-genre, multicultural Dark Noise Collective. His writing has appeared in Poetry Magazine, Ploughshares, Beloit Poetry Journal, & elsewhere. In Poetry Slam, he is the 2014 NUPIC Champion, a 2011 IWPS finalist, the reigning 2-time Rustbelt Individual Champion & was on 2014 Championship Team Sad Boy Supper Club. He writes & lives between Oakland, CA & St. Paul, MN.

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If you are interested in reading past poems of the week, feel free to visit the blog archive.  


Amuesi said...

This is such a dope poem. I love the line about a song doing just fine. Danez is a powerful writer and I don't think I have read or heard anything of his that I haven't liked. And to be able to write this type of poem in such a short time only means he has got SKIES THE LIMIT potential (shameless plug lol). Respect to him and Split this Rock...consciousness and voice....priceless.

Kimberlee Gerstmann said...

Such a powerful poem. Thank you!

Perry Brass said...

This is one of the most beautiful and moving things I have read about the senseless, stupid death of Michael Brown. We keep wanting something to come out of these events, and sadly they don't. But this poem will come out of it, as a witness and a piece of art, something that will open up the heart and even the world within the problems of our lives.