Winter 2017 - Poetry

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

Julian Randall

 

Codeswitch Decomposing into Lil Wayne Lyric


After Danez Smith

Lord Please Forgive Me for My Brash Delivery
A face is for other people’s benefit, a brochure gospel

undone by a mouth. I am the most marketable sin since 2004.
A smile that yields only bones, a mouth slick with restraint.
I am a good filament, a bright obedient electric. I speak,

and sometimes am found.

Lord Please Forgive Me for My Brash
body and especially my mouth, for-

give me my scholarships, for-
give me my name brand ambition, for-

give me my tattered skin on my G-Unit sneakers
how easy I drenched all the photographs

Lord Please Forgive Me
my jagged epiphanies      

                                                           my tarnished
jaw gleaming w/excess & all  

                                                           my un-flayed dark

Lord Please
y’all knew I was a storm when you Found me

once a white boy asked me for a Skin-Colored Marker
I say Whose skin? and stare until he buss out cryin’
Imma flood     waiting to happen        been like this since ‘99

Lord

You know
                         I’mma make it rain

I’m da hurricane son

 

**

 

Like Everything Else, Love Begins in Hennessy


I am sure now that love
is built like most countries
where one thing names another
in a fit of want       history ensues

And this is as good a place to begin
as any       I knew I loved her
when it was most clear how little
I loved me       how little anything did
A harvest of gone names plaguing me
with dreams where there was no body
to offer       and February was a kind of roar
an abyss that wore my face       and so

I drank       a lot       so much so
that the first time I touched her face
my fingers forgot the labor of hands
I am spilling everywhere     I don’t
remember how to be anything
but the brass burn     and the ripple
of a drained body       and still
and still       and still        she chose me

and vice versa
It is not so much that she saved my life
as that we remembered together
that we were alive at all
was there fracture?         Yes
but nothing with a name    can claim otherwise

A year has passed       I lay the phone
on my chest       let the vibration of her voice
chisel a small home where I prayed nothing
might ever trouble the flesh again
Love    like everything else begins in Hennessy
the mouth blooming out of a temporary numb
the body       the body       the body
despite


 **

 

Biracial Boy Reps His Blood


my body is an architecture of gazes/I wanted your eyes/not for the color/but the water/I was born/into thirst/and questions/what are you/where did you come from/what do they speak there/are you Black/are you the border/and my throat crack down to scarlet with the answer/I bleed/therefore I am/I am therefore/I somewhere/I somewhere therefore/I home/I home therefore/you trespassing/you trespass/therefore you don’t know/who you fucking with/allow me to reintroduce myself/my name is/a failure of mirrors/I am a bad river/I hand back/no reflections/line my stomach/with every Narcissus/I speak no Spanish/pero lo siento/para nada/I plural/I legion/I too much/I overflow/I problem/I problem child/I born this way/I mosaic/shrapnel/crafts a face/out of sharp/crafts a face out of borders/I stay posted/wearing my mother’s face/wishing you would/say something about borders/I got borders/enough to be named/a war/and win/I’m a bad motherfucker/I’m two bad motherfuckers/let’s end the speculation/I’m talking to all of y’all/I wanted your eyes/to make me/something you could name/I wanted your eyes/because a silence follows my blood/I wanted your eyes/because I didn’t want to die/unpronounced/but I was born a refusal/of tongues/petrified muscle/complicated inheritance/I write my curses in Spanglish/I conjure/my own body/into a ravenous/crimson spell/may each intentional mispronunciation/flay loose your tongue/may your house be riddled/with insistent fingers/may your eyes never forget/what havoc/my face/can summon

 

 

 

**

Julian Randall is a Living Queer Black poet from Chicago. He is a 2016 Callaloo fellow, 2017 BOAAT fellow and the 2015 National College Slam (CUPSI) Best Poet. His poem “Police Dream #607” was selected by Joel Dias-Porter as the winner of the 2016 Emerge Literary Journal Contest. He is also a cofounder of the Afrolatinx poetry collective Piel Cafe. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in publications such as Nepantla, Rattle Poets Respond, Winter Tangerine Review, Vinyl, Puerto del Sol, and African Voices among others. He is a candidate for his MFA in Poetry at Ole Miss.

 

  © Ninth Letter, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.