You’re Dead, America

tomorrow, i’ll have hope. / tomorrow i can shift the wreckage

Filmmaker Jovan Todorovic

You’re Dead, America

i fed your body to the fish
traded it at lunch for milk
i know where they buried you
cause it’s my mouth
they tell me bootstraps
& i spit up a little leather
they tell me Christ
but you don’t have black friends
during the anthem
i hum Niggas in Paris
i cha cha slide over the flag
C-walk on occasion
i put a spell on you
it called for 3/5s of my blood
apple pie, red
bones & a full moon
but instead i did it
in the daylight, wanting you
to see me ending you
stupid stupid me
i know better than to fuck
with a recipe
i don’t make chicken
when I don’t have eggs
look at what i did: on the TV
the man from TV
is gonna be president
he has no words
& hair beyond simile
you’re dead, America
& where you died
grew something worse –
crop white as the smile
of a man with his country on his side
a gun on his other side
tomorrow, i’ll have hope.
tomorrow i can shift the wreckage
& find a seed.
i don’t know what will grow
i’ve lost my faith in this garden
the bees are dying
the water poisons whole cities
but my honeyed kin
those brown folks who make
up the nation of my heart
only allegiance i stand for
realer than any god
for them i bury whatever
this country thought it was.

“You’re Dead, America,” Poem by Danez Smith. ©2015 Danez Smith. Used by permission. Originally appeared on Buzzfeed. From Don’t Call Us Dead (Graywolf Press, 2017).