by Kevin Latimer
With lines from Heather Christle, Hanif Abdurraqib, & Ruth Awad.
i wrote this poem in the bath. i stood there for many hours. my legs are wet. before this
i ran outside around a shrub. the body hazards are so tremendous. i have to do manual labor
because i majored in poetry. at least my lines are on point, unlike my edges. gentlemen,
would you put away those swords? it’s a problem. you’re scaring everyone away.
this duel has to stop because i say it does. this poem is political because i let it.
it’s hard to write about flowers these days. it’s even harder to dig them up.
i’ve got the punisher logo tattooed on my back, everybody knows i’m tough. ill end
your life, kid. just give me a reason to. or don’t. i don’t care. im an agent of the state.
i’m a hitman. not a bargainer. i kill for money, not love. look out, man! there’s a laser
on your suit jacket pocket. damn. all that blood: so sticky & so red.
it is what it is & It is what it is, filed under : things not to say when a black mother loses
her son. instead say, I’m so sorry for your loss or fuck those pigs, to the tune of an n.w.a
song. let’s play a song! sing! we were all so happy yesterday. lets all pick tulips in a field &
put them on—
they adorn my body with gold & jewels.
the priest places my hands under his own & leads
the congregation in sermon.
[ & the gospel is following in step. every-
body’s dancing. the priest is dancing , too.
through the front doors, the band marches
in two caskets. out through the lid, my parents
skeletons sit up like two tulips slicing through
the muddy ground— & they dance. everybody’s
dancing. & god, i’m sorry, but i’m dancing,
it is an emergency to be alive during these times.
it’s not an emergency if ya ain’t bleeding, my mom says.
but i am bleeding. i am!— i say, in my blood soaked shirt.
i am emergent. (some would say emerging )
. i emerge first from the dirt ( my
fingernails touch air first, to be exact)
i own the funeral house, i catalog my deaths in a spreadsheet:
[1. son died. cause of death? Did not take pills.]
[2. my son died? CALL THE
[3. son died why? ANSWER:
does it matter? god will not save him.
!how is god a god when he or they can not deliver me from this sorrow.
the believers [bless them!] have their faith
waver after the third one: earthquakes wreck
the foundation of this house. by house i mean
world. by world i mean body. by body
i mean myself. there have been reports
of once holy boys dropping to their knees
to sift through garbage cans for food. there is no god
in hunger. faith dies in a watering mouth.
one by one we crack them open: hungry mouths
like chicks waiting for our first meal. or our last.
or in awe of a new god peaking through the once
clear sky. this new god is not a cheery god—
this god like all new gods doesn’t say a word!
a cop is standing in a field of flowers. he picks the head off a daisy &
plucks it in his mouth. it’s very tasty. & then out of the sky, god says,
in his mightiest breath, that i may be merciful, but i can’t stand to see
flowers wilt & then he puffs up his chest & then he blows & then
the world goes black.
Kevin Latimer is a bartender from Cleveland, Ohio. He writes poetry and plays in his free time.