Outside the ravenous qualities of dust
It is Missouri in the summer of 2014
a boy’s name tries to outrun the smoke
Fails. Becomes it.
Grandma is inside,
all her walls greying at the corners
across town my father sifts through dust
finds his own name.
Grandma’s name is a stubborn seed
A stone buried
Nothing grows around it
But the dust.
Grandma doesn’t remember my face
Or the last boy’s name
But she’s certain her son is a thief
That he is Black and alive means little.
The dust swallowed her pride in this
when grandpa was outweighed by smoke
Now he’s just a thief.
My father watches his city grey at the edges
Dreams a garden of granite names
Grandma survives the summer
A boy’s name spreads like a fever.
My mother sits by the window
the muted radiance of a sleeping city
pulsing in the distance
she unsheaths a rosary
teaches each stone my name
a string of small moons
Reminisces of small fables
yes sir no sir
Placing a tooth under the pillow
waiting till morning
to find the worth of my bones
Julian Randall is a Living Queer Black poet from Chicago. He is a 2016 Callaloo fellow, Lois Morrell Poetry Prize winner and the 2015 National College Slam (CUPSI) Best Poet. He is also a cofounder of the Afrolatinx poetry collective Piel Cafe. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Offing, Winter Tangerine Review, Vinyl, Puerto del Sol and African Voices. He is a candidate for his MFA in Poetry at Ole Miss.
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