in my most recent future, I am young & beautiful & dead, the bones undressing themselves, the body turned to an idea of the body. or let’s say there is a cure & the parades that follow & I live to see my children & the oceans grow bigger, see my mother lowered into & become the earth. I hope I bury my mother. don’t make her deal with the business of dressing me. It’s been so long since the last time & may she never again. but that’s not what this poem is for. I’m want to talk about blunts & boys, how both burn my lips so, how they call the wings to my shoulders. I want to talk about the impossible impossible of God or the smell of good rain or how joy is the black girl who made me soft collards & peppered fish before she took me into the room & showed me my name. I don’t want to talk about the virus, so to hell with the virus. to hell with blood. to hell with yesterday & the settled dust. to hell with shame & loathing & shame & madness & shame & shame & shame & shame. I’m not ashamed of all my mouth has turned into a river of pearls, for my body & all the false gods worshipped here. my body a godless church, holy for no reason beyond itself. let the bloodcurse be the old testament & each day I am still alive be the new. if there is no savior, I’ll do it myself, I’ll forgive myself of my sins. I forgive. I forgive. I forgive. I forgive. I live. I live.
Danez Smith is the author of [insert] boy (YesYes Books, 2014), winner of the 2015 Lambda Literary Award for Gay Poetry, and the chapbook hands on ya knees (Penmanship books, 2013). He received a 2014 Ruth Lilly & Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellowship from Poetry Magazine & The Poetry Foundation as well as fellowships from the McKnight Foundation, Cave Canem, VONA, & elsewhere. Danez won the 2014 Reading Series Contest sponsored by The Paris-American and was featured in The Academy of American Poets’ Emerging Poets Series by Patricia Smith. Danez is a founding member of the multi-genre, multicultural Dark Noise Collective. His work has appeared in Poetry, Ploughshares, Beloit Poetry Journal, Kinfolks & elsewhere.
This poem originally appeared in Assaracus, Issue 16.