Two Poems

It is ours, the way
 
the word overcome
or The Wiz or Herman
 
Melville is ours. Clarify the anguish
 
at the core of our gentleness. & a mortgage. Joshua Bennett is the author of The Sobbing School (Penguin, 2016) and Being Property Once Myself: Blackness and the End of Man, which is forthcoming from Harvard University Press.  This music, our blade
 
-d criticism of a country
obsessed with owning
 
everything that shimmers,
or moves with a destination
 
in mind. A shame, to be sure: this
 
brutal truth boomeranging back
& forth across America’s oeuvre,
 
History stammering with blood
in its throat, blood on the books, blood
 
on the leaves & what can you right
-fully call living now that the dead
 
have learned to dance so well? In any corner
store or court of law, any
 
barbershop argument
or hours-long spat
 
over Spades.  
& a somewhat
morbid, though
 
mostly metaphorical,
obsession with
 
the underground. Even the darkness
 
behind our eyes
when we dream. The Next Black
National Anthem will,
 
by the rule, begin
in blood, & span
 
our ongoing war against
oblivion.  
A beauty one might use to keep
a state-sanctioned grave
 
at bay, the distance
this darker body ought
 
to buy but doesn’t. Knife wounds in the global sky,
 
White god on my childhood mind
& you want to talk about repair

 
¤
 
Dr. ¤

 
THE NEXT BLACK NATIONAL ANTHEM
Will naturally begin
with a blues note. How it feels to live
 
in such unrelenting emptiness,
unseen, altogether un-correctable
 
by the State’s endless arms. The most imitated,
 
incarcerated human
beings in the history

 

of the world & every nanosecond
of the band’s boundless
 
song belongs to us. Even the sky. 18,  Genius
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These poems appears in the LARB Print Quarterly Journal: No.  
Some well-adorned
lovelorn lyric
 
about how
your baby left
 
& all you got
in the divorce
 
was remorse. Twelve &
a half minutes of unchecked,
 
bass-laden braggadocio. Just imagine: Ellison’s Prologue
 
set to the most elaborate
Metro Boomin instrumental
 
you can fathom, brass
horns & pulsar cannons
 
firing off in tandem
as Aretha lines a hymn
 
in the footnotes.  

¤

 

TOKEN COMES CLEAN
What I desired most was approachlessness,
enough fear to mark a sharp & ardent
 
wall between me & the broader social
sphere, think: semi-invisible
 
force-field, think: aura light
umber like Bruce Leroy. How even that generosity
 
is a kind of weapon. If evolution were kind,
 
we would all be fireproof
by now.