Dancing (in bed) with White men (with dreads)
Forgive me Audre Lorde, I have sinned
but we both could give a damn about that.
Forgive me Lorde, the master’s tools
brought my house down. I begged him with my own hands.
I’ve been floorboards, wing nuts
& slow blues at his pale hard feet, his full moon flesh
my new moon flesh, waxed nights
of bloodcandles, wince, grazing teeth & no history
until morning, ruined by his glued, yarned experiment
at our natural, his braided unwashed attack against our tentacled blaze
is pulled sugar to my mouth. Lorde, he doesn’t know
how long it takes to look the mirror in the eye, love what the world won’t.
Lorde, forgive me for not grabbing the shears,
forgive me the night I let him stay in my bed after
he said race wasn’t real, for harboring
him in our earth caked skin & not making him walk
to the store, around the store,
drive anywhere while he was covered in our brown bright hand-me-down.
Lorde, there are brown boys I never called back,
sweet as God, gorgeous sun descended men, perfect & plump
but none of them made me fail
as joyous, none of them so undid my spine’s subtle tension,
I don’t want to tell you none of them
went to college, but it’s true. Lorde, we just didn’t relate past our hued past
& isn’t that what uppity people say?
Is the new spelling of my name T-O-M? Does it matter anymore?
I want to tell you about the president,
but not what some say about him. I don’t want to tell you about being 4
& playing with white barbies,
about going to college in a small town, about rent
& the men who paid it for a while,
their wrinkling ghosting bodies, about who lives in Brooklyn,
about Chicago & how she bled,
and that Davis boy or how ain’t nothing changed & nothing hasn’t,
this half dream world, good enough utopia, & still,
his hair. Lorde, what is your word? He’s in my bed, dreads splayed,
taking up too much space.
Audre, gravity is pulling me everywhere. I sit on the edge,
if I fall, I not sure where I’ll go.
BY DANEZ SMITH
Danez Smith, a Cave Canem Fellow and 2-time Pushcart Nominee, works in Madison, WI, as a Student Advisor for the First Wave Program at UW-Madison. He likes tattoos, bad food, drinking Capri Suns, reading manga and good poems. His work appears or is forthcoming in PANK, Anti-, Radius, Southern Indiana Review, and other places. He thinks you look good today.