poem for a black boi

by JARI BRADLEY

 

Tell me more about the black

boy you didn’t give a shit about

until he died—until the promise

of a bullet remanded his body

 

back to the earth & I’ll give you

the names of each of my boy cousins—

the blood behind their names still fresh.

No one chants the name of a black

 

boy until he is a soiled hymn.

Tell me, have you ever tried to love

what has yet to be spilled; what

sometimes has done the spilling?

 

The boy tells me all girls wear bras—

my small mounds showing through the

FUBU sweatshirt I stole from cousin Rob.

I cover his mouth with mine until there is

 

no further question of what parts

of my body do & don’t belong.

I cannot recall his name now—

only the secret our mouths kept

 

in that dark. I cannot tell you what

happened to that curious boy or

my curiosity in boys—only that

when we kissed I learned the name

 

of the boi I always was—a boi

with chin hair and heavy breast now

dreaming of all the boys I grew up

with—all those names I’ll never get back.