—for Floyd—


Everything black in America begins with a cough

and ends as a sigh, creakingly and brief,

like death. Don’t tell me to cry no

more about my missing toes—hush—don’t sing

no love song now. You don’t and won’t

ever know how it feels to be nameless,


how to live for the cops, how it

feels to laugh without your heart, or how

to say all men are created equal while

your body’s full of holes like a graveyard,

how it feels to talk about our dreams


and the mountaintops we’ve climbed, how to deny

that hate has made his home here forever.

Ever heard about The Turner Diary, about Floyd,

Garner and the other illegal human beings bleached


out every day with choke holds and rifles

to make America white again? Last night I

I called my kids and asked them how


they think they’ll die—one said by cops,

the other a mob—it’s better to write


their epitaphs than all the I can’t breathe.