The road from Pennsylvania to Ohio is all blood and mangled limbs.
I consider the deer, its tongue drawn out along the highway’s cracked shoulder
its stomach unzipped, insides turned to the sky’s cool mouth.
why don’t they just run?
don’t they know that nothing but death waits
on the other side of any darkness swallowed by a swath of light?
I once read that when the brightness comes, the deer become paralyzed
fear draws up its long skirt and dances along their spines
what is it to watch death hurling an unhinged jaw towards your neck
while you stand too frozen to even tremble?
is it better this, than to have full use of what can carry you away from heaven
and yet still end up there, enough holes in your chest for all of God’s light to drink from?
I once ran to keep all of my teeth, to stop my own eye from swelling shut.
and here I am, still knowing that there is an end that waits for my legs to give out
I make the long drive home in the summer of bullets passing through black skin
and lodging into the walls of a church
I make the long drive home in the summer of smoke rising from the lord’s house,
prayer meetings in living rooms behind locked doors
I make the long drive home in the summer of blood and burial and blood and burial
and the Pennsylvania state line is only a dark red this time
and the corpses are piled high on along the highway’s ledge,
stretching for miles and high enough to reach the trees
I walk along the road and smell the cooked flesh
I touch the bent and splintered bones and consider the other side of fear:
the teeth prying themselves loose from a boy drowning in light
his mother, pulled free of a grave bearing his name,
watering a garden where the flowers grow to the size of
every living child in the ‘hood
every stone in the cemetery scrubbed clean
of anyone too young to lend their mouths to a small lover’s first kiss
a song rattling the unblemished walls of a church
with no caskets inside
a grandmother who will live forever
a prayer over a feast
I will survive my grief, amen.
I have run into the darkness and arrived in the morning still living, amen.
I have made my home anywhere I still have a name, amen.
I swear that they cannot kill us all
HANIF WILLIS-ABDURRAQIB is a poet, essayist, and cultural critic from Columbus, Ohio. He is a poetry editor at Muzzle Magazine, a columnist at MTV News, and a Callaloo creative writing fellow. His first collection of poems, The Crown Ain't Worth Much, is being released in 2016 by Button Poetry/Exploding Pinecone Press.
MICHAEL ST.GERMAIN wholeheartedly embraces the ideas and techniques associated with 20th century picture-plane innovation. Nonetheless, he is wary of logic in art. St.Germain's studio practice alternates between orchestrating controlled accidents and piling up material to bury the past. St.Germain goes wherever his intuition leads. He is not above presenting stick-figures as fine art and he always enjoys a dry pun. Find out more at his website and twitter: www.mikesartnook.blogspot.com https://twitter.com/mikestgermain