Back to Issue Twenty.

abuela dice que spilled salt goes over the shoulder

BY JULIAN RANDALL
 

Por que no tenemos una pais anymore
cuando we lived in Santo Domingo
we watched Trujillo spill 100 daughters
onto the street y lo sigue de este
recuerdas the memory of a city
turns you to salt     esta de Dios
this would have been your fatherland
before men who were fathers
took it apart     con sus manos sucios
por supuesto    nos decidio
we had to wash ourselves of home
in order to survive     we flew
so that su madre might be untouched
sacrificio para sacrificio
sangre por sangre
what else could we have done but taken
the house spilling into bricks in front of us
and sprinkle it into the ocean?
el oceano no hay azucar
salt is always hungry
salt is what made the men forget
their country had a name
that was not the name of a man
who gave every mirror his name
mijo      la sal esta pequena pero
the ocean will never hold your face
so kindly      y este is how men grow vain
and forget to wash the blood
from their hands before they hug their daughters

 

leslie odom jr. sings obama's anger on npr

BY JULIAN RANDALL
 

The strings twitch into a song
the way the wind flinches a tree
into the end of October
I look into     the belly of Mississippi
and on screen the Black man opens
his mouth to reveal a small white woman
and the song is a fugitive just like that
the song is a mask made of everyone
I have ever loved    and all the quiet
we are now    the song is and is and is
and ends     a hair exhausted of its color
gone now to the color of harp strings which
beckons the fingers to harm themselves
into a music    and I imagine hatred
must require an entire orchestra  
a legion of calloused working hands
similar to my Father’s own pair
only in the weight and desire
But again what else is there to a pair of hands
besides what can be flayed loose?
Beneath the skin perhaps a matrix of bones
sun starved and maybe even the color of mercy
maybe not    maybe just a barely country
maybe the most fathomable wound
and this is less about anger than it is drought
how dehydration is considered a failure
of the well     rather than an impeachment
upon the throat      and here it is as hot as ever
Here a November where nothing is cold enough
to die    here Obama’s anger Chechen dolls onto
my computer and everything a man hasn’t said
lays a bloody lullaby in my lap and this too is history
a labor of callouses and blisters and other casualties
of running and I have never known music not to escape
I have never known myself not a fugitive from my own anger
I have never known us not sprinting as if sung from somewhere else
and in the distance men send bullets into the sky and sing hallelujah
and their song is the unstitching of a scab     and maybe I look out the window
and mistake the copper for a star      maybe I mistake the violence     for home

 

 

Randall 20

Julian Randall is a Living Queer Black poet from Chicago. A Pushcart Prize nominee, he has received fellowships from Callaloo, BOAAT and the Watering Hole, and was the 2015 National College Slam (CUPS) Best Poet. Julian is the editor of Winter Tangerine Review's A Lineage of Mirrors and a poetry editor for Freezeray Magazine. He is also a cofounder of the Afrolatinx poetry collective Piel Cafe. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in publications such as Nepantla, Rattle Poets Respond, Ninth Letter, Vinyl, Puerto del Sol and African Voices, among others. He is a candidate for his MFA in Poetry at Ole Miss.

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