“On the Filming of Black Death,” by Hanif Willis-Abdurraqib – SOUTHERN HUMANITIES REVIEW

Hanif Willis-Abdurraqib


I do not need to watch the bullet feast / to know that it has been fed / I do not need to watch anotherblack body / untethered and jerking / in the tall grass / to know that each new morning / another child /will unlearn a name / that carried them here / I do not need to hear the screams / cutting through a hotnight / to know what scares the birds from their nests / I wear the skin already / I am the only one / whoholds it close / when it tries to crawl away / with every sunset / I do not need to see the soul /swallowed by a ghetto’s cooked pavement / to know that another man / won’t come home tonight /and I will / so long as I don’t run / anywhere / not even to find food / for my vanishing figure / insidethe store (I walk to) / a woman says / in the heat of the moment, it’s hard to know what is and isn’t agun / I imagine she means this / to also be true in the heat of Tulsa / or the heat of a New York doorstep /or the slight warmth / of anywhere we find the small miracle / of a black man / still breathing /everything is a gun / but then nothing is a gun / running is a gun / fear is a gun / a grandmother holdingthe brown face / of a trembling boy / and telling him not to take no lip from nobody who don’t share hisblood / is a gun / forgive how the darkness of night / swallows my hands / forgive me for having pockets /forgive me for filling them / even though there are enough corpses / telling me I should know better /it’s just that I have to hold some things close / I have to pay / for everything / that is how this countryworks / I don’t know any other way / to make myself full / before my father / has to watch a video of /my hollowing / before the gallows rise / and meet another morning / restless and hungry

Source: “On the Filming of Black Death,” by Hanif Willis-Abdurraqib – SOUTHERN HUMANITIES REVIEW