The people of the Future
drink the moon
Everything is possible—Mari Evans


Maybe Bobby gets too much credit.

Maybe that night
when his voice bounced against
the Naptown dark
& his uneasy sigh
loosed the letters that spelled kin’s death,
God’s rain spit the echoes of haints
against his face & his obituary
cooled in night’s breath, brushed
shoulders w/the crowd’s synced scream.

Dearest reader, take no offense,
this is not to suggest the act
was not shouting down a bullet,
that Bobby didn’t wish peace. Honestly,
I am an errant kite ensnared in limbs
knowing his eyes would never open
in another 2 months, that he knew the price
for free speech was death,
talked anyway.

Maybe the Circle never fired because the crowd remembered
& Medgar
& Addie Mae
& Cynthia
& Carole
& Johnny
& Virgil
& James
& Andrew
& Michael

& Malcolm
& Malcolm
& Malcolm.

Maybe black folks said
Everything is burned inside me;
I am no friend of bomb or flame,
& when I wake in the morning
I want to see the corner store
clean & whole
like it was before my sleep.


Mitchell L. H. Douglas is Associate Professor of English at Indiana University-Purdue University, Indianapolis. His debut collection, Cooling Board: A Long-Playing Poem (Red Hen Press, 2009) was nominated for a 2010 NAACP Image Award in the Outstanding Literary Work-Poetry category and a 2010 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award. His second poetry collection \blak\ \al-fə bet\, winner of the 2011 Lexi Rudnitsky/Editor’s Choice Award, was published in February 2013 by Persea Books. His poems have appeared in Callaloo, Crab Orchard Review, Ninth Letter and the anthologies The Ringing Ear: Black Poets Lean South and Resisting Arrest: Poems to Stretch the Sky among others. He is a Cave Canem graduate and cofounder of the Affrilachian Poets. His third collection of poems, dying in the scarecrow’s arms, is forthcoming from Persea Books in spring 2018.


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