Chief Turey, Chief of The Black Hammer Times
To pull something out of this earth, for one,
you need to crack it open, again & again,
work the raw metal through unforgiving ground.
Growth only comes after impossible toil.
A dead & rotten poplar tree still chokes,
digs its feet deep in the dirt, can still be
a motherfucker to fell, and still shakes
its neighbors on the way down. It takes every trick
in the book, the brute arts & the intricate,
a little sweat, some venom. It helps to be
ruthless, attack the roots, hack them with irons,
split bedrock, burn this bitch, a pinch of poison
works nicely, or just drown the goddamn tree
with animal blood, grip it by the crown.
Animal, Blood, Crip can be a crown,
cunt, cocksucker, clusterfuck, a communist
(that one always makes me laugh), criminal,
cannibal, delinquent, devil, public enemy,
faggot, fascist, FBI Most Wanted,
fugitive, gangster, ghetto, gutter mouth,
history, hustler, screaming homosexual,
Black Hitler (& how do you feel about Jews?)
Jihad, King Kong, psycho killer, loose cannon,
monster, menace, the n-word can be a crown,
race baiter, a riot, a racket, ratched
as all hell (fuck a talented tenth,
I’ll hang with the wretched of the earth), pansy.
I’ll hang with the wretched of the earth, panting
one final love letter to Nat Turner
before death ever takes me lying down.
Nah, Death will catch me wild-eyed and tall
in a field where all my enemies lay dead.
I’ll bury the flint of my hatred down with them,
or shed this body in red feathers of light.
There are two gods of death. One is the god
of shovels, whose hands must look like swords
to the poplar tree. Can you blame me
if I flick the blade sometimes? Let the iron
rake my tongue? O surgeon, pruning my hands
until there is nothing left but thorns. Aren’t I beautiful
when I’m angry? With a sword in my mouth?
When I’m angry, with a sword in my mouth,
how I would love to write about anything else.
A poem about a garden, for the garden’s sake.
For the blessed earth, and not the siblings
inside it. A body unsalted by rage.
I could have the words escape the jagged
trenches in my gut and call it a day.
A poem where planes drop cylinders
of soil over the avenues of Damascus.
This was supposed to be my day of rest,
but even rest can be a contradiction.
I am war against my own still waters.
The curses in my mouth when I awake each
morning without a drop of blood on my hands.
Mourning without a drop of blood on my hands
feels like whatever the opposite is
of being a ghost in a haunted house.
A bloody house that haunts me, drags its nails
across my hands, and fills my mouth with dirt.
In these times of Corona, and Colonialism,
I need whatever the opposite is
of an exorcism — the spirits of slain
Africans, and Palestinian children
tear down the Master’s house. The other god
of death, the god of hammers, whose arm swings
in my breast, I pray she posses me then.
I don’t want this world to kill me. I want
to pull something out of this earth for once.