On Hearing News of Another Shot Black Man

Kwame Dawes

I am in the lemon-green room. This room

as if the color has exploded the softening

comfort of green, covering the worn

books, the discarded folders. Let me say

that this is a green of the shade of light

filtering through leaves. Imagine a bowl

of green olives or grapes in their variety

of shades, this is the green I speak of,

and I must be clear about this, for green

is as fickle as the bodies we live in.

This green has exploded over the room and settled

gently over the reams of paper, the boxes

in the multi-voiced shades of my island.

And I sit here, dappled as if the trees

above are the filter over me,

and that lime tree, stunted by the entanglement

of its roots in the pot, smiles sheepishly

in the corner. I am here thinking

of the sensuality of the dye that covers us

and turns us into creatures longing for shadows

or startling light, because I am feeling the news,

the chattering noise of a body broken by bullets,

by the illogic of why, by the heavy sorrows.

Forgive me for asking you to take

me into your verdant backroom,

forgive me if I sit quietly in the corner

rocking, maybe, but hoping for

earth to hold my vegetable self steady.

Kwame Dawes is the author of several books of poetry as well as fiction, criticism, and essays. Dawes is the George W. Holmes University Professor of English and the Glenna Luschei Editor of Prairie Schooner. He teaches in the Pacific MFA Program and edits the African Poetry Book Series for the University of Nebraska Press.
Originally published:
December 6, 2022


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