an act of war on my belief in death
donny jackson

petechial hemorrhaging

when a villain is strangling a victim
red dots in their final eyes
tiny volcanoes
pop up saying
life is
here and
you think these fireworks in the whites of seeing
couldn’t possibly be about how i love you but
with so many newscrawls cut into noosery and
pulled tight around our lives this
a color of alarm
the way i write us down
is the last burst before my last breath the
world can’t 8:46 my neck without me redding back i
am still living here to love you and
even if i can’t breathe
even if i can’t make a sound
i am a red dot
spreading housefire wild
and the taste of you is a melody sung reversed in my throat

one nation invisible

the third leading cause of death for the first women of this soil is murder ◦ mostly by men not original to the land ◦ we don’t notice this because we hadn’t noticed them when they were alive ◦ which means the triple funeral for each of these women is ◦ she is gone ◦ the last person who saw her killed her ◦ the person who found her found her dead ◦ perhaps then the prayer should be our eyes ◦ starting now and often after ◦ we should find a first woman ◦ even it’s only her image ◦ and make not gaze but awe of her ◦ study the herebeforeyouandpresentstill of her face ◦ an architecture unlike yours ◦ but smoothed the ground you’re standing on ◦ lay yourself down in her pupils ◦ atone for your blindness ◦ let the sight of her lace into your collarbone ◦ lifeline her stance to your hips ◦ shift the weight of her to your center of gravity ◦ do not blink until her now familiar to you is a tether that makes her harder to bury

dead. named.

let’s see how many wrong things we can fit into one death in virginia america

ariyanna is black and 17 and said no thank you to being a boy but
at a party she defends her friend in a fight with some girl and
when the black and 19 boyfriend shows up with an assault rifle to defend his girlfriend
he forgets why he is angry and
asks ariyanna if she’s a boy or a girl and
scared of black boys who hate black girls assigned boy
is way too many black boys or
at least
the way to bet
thinks maybe she can stay alive by misgendering herself and says
she’s a boy
and the boyfriend remembers that hating his own confusion is more important than
defending his girlfriend
which is why he is there with an assault rifle
an assault rifle

transphobic black angry boy with an assault rifle if you’re keeping score at home

and he
shoots ariyanna
and then
because let’s invent the verb deadage now
a newpaper in virginia
where you can’t do anything adult
buy cigarettes consent to sex buy a gun
until you’re 18
the newspaper says
about ariyanna
a 17 year old transgender woman
is shot
because studies and everydays
show that black girls look like adults more than white
but some papers say
17 year old

that isn’t a victory

how many wrong things can we fit into one death in virginia america

ariyanna is dead and misremembered
killed by an angry black 19 year old
yeah i said it
with an assault rifle
to stay alive
ariyanna tried to lie about how her body lied to her so
the least we can do is say

ariyanna was a 17 year old girl when she died

ariyanna was a 17 year old girl when she died and

she loved to dance


it’s raining as the man gets out of the car

rain is a high frequency sound that usually induces alpha waves in the brain which then relaxes almost close to sleep

watch the passenger when he gets out of the car to video the man but don’t watch it please not again

but if you do look at the man and the cop not relaxed in the rain as the passenger moves slowly somehow toward the man and the cop but mostly he’s motionless even when he videos the bullet entering the man’s consciousness

not like a relaxing high frequency but like a shout from God who for a split second maybe wasn’t paying attention

and if you look which you shouldn’t because a man died on 3 different cameras except curiously not the one strapped to the cop but if you do look you see that the passenger who is black like the man never not once flinches even when thunder booms the man’s head and his brain rains not relaxing sounding on the grass

what why because another thing that looks like relaxed in the rain is really a black boy living numb in a This Ain’t the First Killing I’ve Seen on Camera or Heard About or Almost Been world so this boy could film an entire movie with a soundtrack of rain and pulsestrangle on and in him and not stir or cringe or like a gun recoil as he witnessed his friend’s skull become a cloud sudden downpouring on somebody’s lawn

my God how many zombie boys like this one do we have to run to and snatch out of their rain


i’m clear about this part it is the laugh
jumping into it
a room full of plastic balls you jump when you laugh
you jump into the catch of a room
into the glee that there are plastic balls you jump into color when you laugh
and this won’t sound right but it is
an unburied your laugh

the embedded piece freed

as if someone was original Lucy bones looking for it for a long time

that piece
an ancient looked for that explains the beginning of you and where i am stupid
is thinking the silly that brushes you clean is what you want me to see and not the you
the looked for bones but found amber instead
holding an alive in its still for the reveal of it

you laugh like you know what to save golden you laugh like amber
you are trying to tell me to press my head to your earth

dig where you laugh
when you show me where you are buried

your laugh is older than those who birthed you it carries
who you are supposed to be

they all see you
how could they not but nobody
has been looking for you amber you
i am here to look for you i want to look for you
i am here to see your eyes as a dislocated night wandering
not lost

a diva darkness
born to dress in stars

i am here to look up at you
as you liquid tighten around me so i don’t forget
you are tea
a shrub loosed from the ground that learned how to swim in heat

your fingers
aren’t they the thinnest monks in quiet on me so
the last thought before i sleep is yes
she could lay heal on me

you know how when somebody means to draw a circle but stops short and leaves a gap
and we still know what it is well
you kissed me almost circle like that once and i vowed to teach us both
we owe ourselves to complete a thing

so here perhaps we are

it is not too late to tell you
when you plastic ball jump laugh amber in my day stardressed woman you

i could weep
until tomorrow wakes to a new ocean and asks you
what name you’ve picked for me


we’ll spend some time talking about how we knew it was a
white boy based on
the 3 name news code and that he probably killed them
because they were asian and how
when they caught him they made sure he was safe with a vest unlike
rodney king
like the 3 name white boy was
also driving a
but didn’t kill anybody
but maybe we ought to also spend some time talking about how
some of the women were already
because they were
and because men took their passports and
made them climax men to
a debt from their home country and
this is in fact
where there aren’t enough stoplights and there’s
no business like that
unless there’s a man’s appetite like that and how
is the animal who takes the longest time to die when she’s wounded


they could find me the monster one day reading
my rights by their lightning birthing
thunders in the black cloud of me and
whatever the hour won’t
it be dusk

what i ask of you then is
to explain to the rest of you the
phenomenon of my eyes being
the avatar of my gaze laid
upon your skin a
greeting that does not understand goodbye cupping
your face as if it is the entire baby of you listening
for a cry wondering how to
calm you lullaby
your burden down in the nights bigger black than me


what i learned from megan thee stallion is that the most satisfying kill is using a weapon formed against you ◦ like when they called megan a stallion ◦ a male horse with its sack intact ◦ because calling a tall black woman a human type beautiful was too much to ask ◦ she said ok i’ll be a stud getting rich off my juice
badu and 1619 said
y’all feel that
then megan decided ◦ therefore i’m patriarchal ◦ no wait ◦ repeat after me ◦ i’m a bad motherfucker with the backhand ◦ for her next trick megan pulled a wet ass pussy out of her father figure black girl magic ◦ a gasp is a sudden intake of the truth ◦ but then megan said ◦ yes this nigga tory shot me ◦ she didn’t name names before because of all the names named so far when somebody called the police ◦ or when the police called themselves ◦ she said ◦ i’ve tried to save this nigga ◦ and this is the anatomy lesson of a black woman ◦ because no matter how much you father ◦ you do not get to forget you that first and always you are a mother whose job it is to take care of all the babies ◦ and if there’s a tall in some kinda way black woman present then everybody else will be the babies ◦ but doesn’t she want to be a baby sometimes too ◦ be the softest face in the room ◦ be still ◦ have no words ◦ yet doesn’t she want to say your heartbeat is the only night i know ◦ can she let her hand be too small to carry anything but the other hand ◦ can she feed from a taking in that is hers alone ◦ can her dreams spill upon your chest ◦ can her sysyzsigh be a creek that passes through the forest of you ◦ can you name her name and just her name in it ◦ as if with closed eyes ◦ as if so grateful on your knees ◦ like how you speak to God


the smallest unit of lynching
is two people who don’t know how to love each other

there are no dangerous women only foolish men
who don’t believe in dangerous women

and even though you look at me from a distance
but in such sharp focus like the beginning
of all assassinations
i now see every bit of you the way the split tree
sees lightning as a reach that could not control
its passion there’s always something scorched
in our touch

i grasp
at the sun
let my arrogant hands go blind
stumble across you led by your smolder
blister my way home until
your next word
slaps me foreigner
your every line a border
and i beg to be contraband
smuggled tight in your lungs
aching like stolen music

my body instrumental
recrafted of burnt spruce and thunder
strung into dreamt mingus hollow
but for the tune of you

girl you don’t know
all i wanna do is shed everything solid about me declare your nakedness nothing but voice and
my fingers an epidemic
of serenade make you shiver
turn you acapella
and the rain your applause
an echo is just a melody in climax i love you
especially when you are spoken gardenia
your scent scrawls on me like drunken signature i belong to you
so shackled to this post fully aware
of how loose the soil

why else would i
refuse to wipe the slavery off my mouth
after you kiss me

but then
you curl as final
as dried ink fist still clenched like an undeclared war

even crumpled and barely read
i am papyrus
trying to deny its wrinkles
before discarded
only the weight of words holding my pages
in place

but you mistake quiet
for oblivion
ignored for suffocationso
you want to raise my dust
lick typhoon into me until my breath
is a limb
snatched from my core snapped at the joint and i am
strewn forced to find
some new misplaced part of myself in my shambles
a handful
of unburied ivory longing
to grow back into a beast
of the serengeti

but on those nights all i want
is for you to press into me let your pulse
taps stories of how blackberry i am into my shoulder blades
until i am so thick with myself i open color across the sky

i do not want for wings

in these clouds stained sweet

in the morning i will know you love me even on the days
i am made of birds and the air
of gunshot

you don’t feel loved at peace
there is no stew without
so you’re just a dare
i bite into
to see if you’re real but i taste you
not gold
but cayenne eden flesh devil blood
and suddenly i’m the water
in my own eyes falling
and running the way a tear is a wish
tired of keeping secrets

i’m sorry
you’ve built your life so small nothing fits inside you without pain

but i cannot shrink to fit you without telling God

a lie

i am too much meteor
to ignore
and there’s no atmosphere i enter where i die
into pieces

you have to be planet
to survive my collide

so while you claw your way into any chest
capable of sustaining life
trying to unearth the heavenly you already are
you cannot stand between me
and the light and ask me
not to call you eclipse

in philadelphia when i am 27 and the scared white man points a .38 at me

you can’t say sonbrothernotthiefpleasedon’t your shoulders can only say stop meaning you stop first then him stop

find his eyes where his mother is somewhere

speak not because bass is oak gun is hatchet

slow yourself to this fast empty your palms high of hold look past his hold running toward you

find his eyes where you can lay yours down like lamb like his are Jesus

stop your stop slow so it doesn’t look like go

let this sweaty man whose door you knocked on to buy insurance from strip most of you from you like jamestown so you can tell this story about how you almost died making a savior out of him

cherchez la femme

i want to be the girl with the most cake

courtney love
from doll parts by hole

indigenous girl says to black girl where is this place

black girl looks at brown girl like it’s her turn

brown girl says we call it bottom because black girl plus brown girl say there’s no place lower than nobody looking for you

oh indigenous girl says i used to live there before i didn’t live anywhere how about you

black girl says the police said i probably ran away like that was enough to not look for me

brown girl says the way a man can hold your wrist tells you not to scream at the bus stop

yeah indigenous girl says my throat was a wrist right before here but why did you say nobody was looking for you

brown girl says because we would hear screaming all day like you can’t at the bus stop

mothers black girl says just scream into their blood until it kills them

fathers brown girl says drown in screams they can’t make with the mouths that kissed us on our foreheads

indigenous girl looks at her hands and says wow we’re just bones now

brown girl looks at black girl like it’s her turn black girl says yeah we’re all white down here

black girl plus brown girl say but it’s too late

the night lady diana died

we enter the apartment after arguing
about another everything and now
we have to adjust our silence
to mean something else

we do
it sounds different

it is
why is the tv on anyway

we refuse the monastery
in our faces un-take
the vow we made in the car
we were just in a car and now we’re here diana and dodi thought they would do that tonight too and now
i have to hope your tear
will tell me
which branch of you it works for
if it’s leftover me

or fresh princess either way
i cannot watch you paint yourself
in invisible anything right now

when i haven’t yet told you
when you enter a room it is always like
seeing you
for the first time again
and i don’t know how you do that or how to ask you not
to stop

two people in love
just died in a car
and i haven’t said what i would miss if cars
have more rampage in mind

i should tell you never to be in another car and
how mornings should be when i so want you to please
oh my God shut
and let me memorize
the way your hair
can rest so lightly on my chest it mimics
a disembodied blue

it is not
a sensation it is an act of war
on my belief in death

i want you to stop talking about diana and dodi and the car and the driver and the tunnel i am trying not to believe in death right now
i want you
to look at me
as if you are afraid the impact of their car has dislodged
my understanding of the servitude of your lower back
to my left hand in particular when my right is measuring
the padded room banshee
of your heart
i want you to want not to lose me ok your car keys
are under my spell and will not tell you where they are

should stop driving this very second

this is the perfect moment for you to tell me
your hush

is shaped
to the specific outline of me and not a soul can hear your whisper
i am present

if you say i’m sorry or ask me to
i will throw the television out the window

a princess and a wizard died in a chariot tonight and if fairytales can perish
we need new legends to keep us alive

say something new to me like the world will end
in a tunnel if you don’t

and i promise i will make you feel
when i say your name in the dark

do not say the word sad
i refuse
to feel guilty for claiming it
before we walked through the door

i’m trying to tell you
i have engraved your secrets into my fingertips
so i can wave your story into the wind
until it is a falcon unchased
by anything

there are flashing lights all over
where they were

and in my rant your keys escape my thrall

diana and dodi are dead

and you are now tearless and you are leaving and this is a city of cars and unlike me
you are not afraid of crashing
so tonight
i know
you will drive


wet and salt and clay she doesn’t even remember she was once
is the scent
he dreams
on her chest

wakes to vanilla and woman on his tongue
is his first question

her smallest finger teases his hand into a grasp
she hopes the memory of this lays church chords in his blood

she teardrops out of herself
leaving no trace but moon to whisper to her small earth
what i call you in this now
in this God of us
is your only name

think of the gray above you
as a blacksmith
your smile
bent sun
and thunder
means a gift
is being shaped for you

for months her sleep was
too many stories in her carry low
surely boy they say
forbid the doctor to say surely
let mystery
be short peace

i didn’t want you to catch my afraid in a place where you couldn’t run

and he is still not afraid
because her heat is an echo
of where he lived

she bathes with him
dilutes her afraid
they are lake
their heartbeats
morning birds

they share ripen tales in their exhale

she stands
listening to how they rainshower when they do not move

dances them to the mirror
her voice is barefoot in tigris mud
this is what a prayer looks like

her sleep almost sleep now
but his cry wants to be arms

she cellos when he suckles

she tucks him into her kiss
hollows out the night of its frightened men who could be weapons
lets the dark be as heron bones
at last a sleepy sleep
a soaring quarter rest
far above the aboves
its shadow
made of wool
scrolled upon the two of them like covenant
each one
the other’s

altered united state

for once
i smell of demons
it is
to walk into hell undetected
and come for you

free to morning
you can fall seed
from the wind
dive ripen
kiss pray me to
peach catch you
both glisten
fruit bitten
is sunrise color we yeah
sunrise color we

i am sultan
when your lush becomes nation my pant
more last jihad vow you than air
and if i tell you
that it was never
a secret

you will not hip lie to my truth grind
close on you vein plump so thisishappen your moan wants to unwrap yes

spell on you
bring quick dementia til you
in crawling sign language decipher
at your waist
juice girl verbly through
your warm rind goosebump plead
not to
breath suck gibberish
with hot pentacostal loose
on your neck
as spun cane filaments
below your belly
go savannah bent to my growl and you try to
proverb drip cool me
off your brow
snatch your heat not to steep sassafrass itch
too long am i tea
or bitches


you might not want to
what starts
when you ask your stop
to stop
stopping huh

better to come back me satin vengeance
all but torrential
in fairy tales
of how you would sleep to me close
no outrun downpour of pull me dream from you

when did you know i could be
the wet

how soft can i when i am both you held boy and
his placenta hide twin
cotton violence bred feral cornered
in your wood

might i not
have no bounce

if they
speak of me
as wrecking ball
of unknown velocity

if they measure me in trembles
how much
metronome upset do they leave
in your tick

there is no america in where i want you

hush nuzzle my flinch and know
how i repair
my africa

so when
you are ready
to lazy yes life me hear song feel me i the steel drums and wrath
lift from baptize drown praise we symbols
of a newfound tongue rewrite scribble our nights live in our errors
no eraser
to scrape us into dust
indelible diary we now
say all of it
over everything let them
cannot breathe this when they are
and we are blood


dear dad

i miss you but i’m glad you’re not here because there are so many babies dying which you know too much about because daughter

and how after that you separate yourself from your frame just enough so what we see is not you anymore but everything you’re carrying

and dad if you were here you would have to see again how a virus can kill a child like your daughter my mother’s daughter my sister my sister’s sister

and this time there is a virus like the pneumonia one taking babies and grown ups and if a virus is a germ that repeats itself in the body until it doesn’t leave enough space in the body to breathe then you would also have to see how a bullet is the fastest virus

and your people my people the body have contracted the disease and if you were here i would have to see your heart break every day but not even like my every day but start over with your whole heart new again every minute and snap it in two again says dementia

and i would tell you that i am still your spill of a boy i am scribble but i am trying to leave a mark for someone who might know better about how to stop bugs from murdering children and their shepherds

and i would hold your face so dark i was never scared of midnight and i would tell you that i don’t love oatmeal cookies the way you do but the aroma of them taught me dad that being your son is molasses how slowsweet a black soul can pour into a waiting

still. life.

when you ask me how i’m doing ◦ i have to tell the truth ◦ which is me saying ◦ ok i am a target ◦ and what today is the plan for that ◦ because every day i have to have a plan for that ◦ and today which like any other day of a target might be the last day ◦ so today my plan for that is to say yes to being a target ◦ and especially yes to being the nature of target ◦ in other words to not move ◦ because moving isn’t what true targets do ◦ they wait to be aimed upon and fired at and hit ◦ targets are meant to not move and be hit ◦ i will not resist being a target today ◦ i will be unmoving ◦ and risk being hit ◦ because i’m empty of move these days ◦ i am completely out of run ◦ because some people think the nature of target is to be stopped from moving ◦ yes ◦ achebe reminded us ◦ until the lions have their own historians the history of the hunt will always glorify the hunter ◦ and he could’ve been talking about targets too who don’t get to tell the story ◦ like ok well it’s still hunters in this case too i guess who get to say what targets are ◦ but you know what ◦ no ◦ i am specifically not a hunter but i am telling the story today anyway ◦ and like i said true targets don’t move ◦ but the way i’m going to don’t move is different than freeze like the hunters sometimes say ◦ even when you couldn’t possibly do anything else because of chokeholds or knees or already fired ◦ my don’t move today is because it’s you who asked me ◦ and i don’t want you to see me run or be hit ◦ because it’s you who asked me i am saying my don’t move today is to be a rest on a page of sheet music ◦ which i’m declaring today is ◦ sheet music ◦ the possibility of song ◦ in the case of today ◦ sonata ◦ for two instruments ◦ me ◦ you ◦ i am not moving because i am a rest ◦ that part of the sonata ◦ which is yes made of movements ◦ see what’s happening ◦ i am a rest ◦ that part of the sonata where there is silence next to a note that makes that note more note than it would’ve been without the silence next to it ◦ this is how i am don’t move today ◦ for you especially ◦ for when you ask me how i’m doing ◦ and i can say that i am not moving ◦ and i will not be hit ◦ because i changed my mind ◦ i am not a target today ◦ i am the quiet part of a song for you ◦ the quiet that makes the song ◦ more song ◦ i am not move ◦ i am not fired upon ◦ i am not hit ◦ i am not target ◦ come ◦ don’t move ◦ with me