Back to Issue Twenty.

backfire

BY DERRICK CARR

 

after Nas’ 2001 track “Rewind”

The bullet goes back in the gun.
On Black Friday, a protest starts large
on the Magnificent Mile.
People slip through the throng
to bring gifts into the stores.
The young & brown with hoarse
Voices scream themselves quiet
& whole. The old & mostly white
on their flanks smile and turn home.
The shopkeepers twist their locks,
dim their fluorescents and follow
the last trickles of the march. Everyone leaves
full, carrying some form of gratitude. 

The bullet goes back in the gun/ 
           the bullet goes back/
in the gun/
           bullet goes/
                                   in the back/
                          the gun/
                                                back goes bullet/
                                     bullet goes gun/ 
             gun in the back goes/
the gun bullet in/
                          gun in the bullet/
            goes back/

The bullet goes back in the gun.
bullet holes close in a nigga’s chest.
His body is a miracle
blotting bloodstains from the snow.
His leg jerks & makes an angel
in the powdered dust. The bullet
goes back in the gun.

The shadow over him pulls back.
He stands up, flails a bit to get the dust off,
turns his head with an open-mouthed yawn
as a blood rose wilts on his stomach.
And for the last time, the bullet goes back
in the gun. The boy pushes a breath
from his lungs for the first time.

The door of a police cruiser slams shut
& the car peels away in reverse, its tires
polishing skidmarks from the road
as its sirens recede down the block.

The boy goes about his day. Smiling, he hangs
up on his mama. Does some other kid shit, none

more significant than this: he moonwalks
through his front door for a quiet morning at home
& lives.

 

 

Derrick Carr has lived in the San Francisco Bay Area since he was old enough to read. He graduated from Yale in 2011 with a degree in Black people. His work has been published in Muzzle Magazine and Oakland Review. He’s co-edited Tandem, an annual anthology published through The Lit Slam, a nonprofit working to broaden the conversation around literature. He’s participated in KSW/CIIS’s Interdisciplinary Writer’s Lab and is a founding fellow in the OCTO Collective, an interdisciplinary collective for black artists in the Bay Area. Like his mother and grandmothers, all he knows is survival. You can keep up with him at tinyletter.com/whyderrick.

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